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Plain White Paper Plates Help Seed Sorting

By kylaluaz
October 15, 2014

Using paper plates makes cleaning and sorting seeds so much easier.

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Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
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irisarian
Oct 14, 2014 6:34 PM CST
I use small paper plates for my iris seeds before putting the seeds in envelopes. You are right about clear vision. You can also write what the seeds are on the plates. Remember to cross that out before doing another batch. nodding
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
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kylaluaz
Oct 14, 2014 6:40 PM CST
Green Grin!

Good point.
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
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chelle
Oct 14, 2014 7:05 PM CST
Another nice thing is; they're stack-able!

Great tip, Kyla. Thumbs up
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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Oct 14, 2014 8:30 PM CST
And the cheaper they are, the better they work for this use! I love the flimsy, lightweight ones for this purpose.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Alana H
(Zone 7a)
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poisondartfrog
Oct 15, 2014 5:24 AM CST
I use the super cheap ones. They are so light weight that when I open a window or turn on a ceiling fan they sometimes take the drying seeds on a magic carpet ride. To prevent losing seeds this way I often put a quarter on the plate.
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
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kylaluaz
Oct 15, 2014 5:28 AM CST
Oh, yeah, they have to be the cheap, thin paper plates; otherwise you can't crease them so easily.

Alana, I wouldn't think a quarter would be heavy enough! I'd feel safer just staying out of any breeze. Green Grin!
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
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kylaluaz
Oct 15, 2014 7:00 AM CST
Also, I should confess I'd not have thought of this except we do have these around in the house; my housemate buys them. I've tended to stay away from disposable paper products as much as possible for environmental reasons, but if it's right there, I'm willing to use it. Plus, these can easily end up in the compost, adding good plain carbon, if you want to complete their cycle in a green manner. Green Grin!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Oct 15, 2014 1:06 PM CST
I agree about the flat, white surface for cleaning / sorting.

They are also good for the first stage of drying, where you need air circulation and don't want to pile damp green plant parts too deep. If I wait until fall to collect seed heads, they are always rained-on-wet.

Once I get the pods or seed heads almost air-dry and/or have separated most of the seeds from most of the green plant parts, I also use paper envelopes to finish air-drying seeds and to hold different batches separate.

Paper envelopes take up much less space than paper plates once you fold the top over and paper-clip them closed. You can stand them on end and pack many envelopes into a small space.

(I need to take a photo of the cardboard "trays" or "dividers" I made by cutting Ritz Cracker boxes in half. You can stand up 3-4 envelopes in each tray with some air circulation, or 6-8 envelopes with very little air circulation.)

http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/1568/Dry-Saved-Seeds-...

http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/649/Silica-Gel-for-Dr...



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[Last edited by RickCorey - Oct 15, 2014 1:27 PM (+)]
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 15, 2014 1:20 PM CST
I fold 8.5" x 11" card stock into big funnels, or cut it down and make small funnels that fit into 2"x3" Ziplock bags. Then I stand four of them up with funnels inserted and use tiny measuring spoons to split batches of seed into trade-size packets.


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Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
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kylaluaz
Oct 15, 2014 1:41 PM CST
Yeah, no, I don't save or dry the seeds on the paper plates, just sort and clean them that way. Rick, your envelope method is excellent, especially if you're collecting seeds that aren't yet dry. In your climate, that's probably all the time! Green Grin!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 15, 2014 2:17 PM CST
I guess the closest I come to drying on paper plates is to use "basket-shaped" coffee filters.

I put a square of paper or card stock into the coffee filter along with the drying seed heads or seed pods. I write the variety and date on the card stock, not the coffee filter, so i can pour it along with the seeds into envelopes for ongoing drying.

Actually, I write the name and date on card stock before I go outside to harvest. Then I just pour the label along with the seeds from coffee filter to envelope to Ziploc. Desiccants may get involved somewhere along the way.

The stand-up pleated part of a basket coffee filter keeps breezes from blowing seeds around as they dry, but they do nothing to abate the disasters that a curious cat can cause. Hence paper-clipped envelopes.

Maybe re-seal-able envelope flaps would be a plus, but I just save the "return" envelopes when I get bills. Even a torn-open envelope can be used for drying/storing seeds, but you have to fold the top over before paper-clipping it.

>> collecting seeds that aren't yet dry. In your climate, that's probably all the time!

Mid-summer would be an exception. We usually have dry-ish summers.

However, in fall I sometimes have to collect seed heads in the rain, then wrap them in coffee filters and cotton towels, then press them to wring the rain water out. Then dry them "air-dry". Then the ACTUAL drying phase starts!



Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
Charter ATP Member Cottage Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: United Kingdom Region: Northeast US Irises
Region: United States of America
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irisarian
Oct 15, 2014 10:15 PM CST
Wow. After mine dry on the small paper plates, the seeds go into coin envelopes before planting.
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
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kylaluaz
Oct 16, 2014 5:54 AM CST
I dry seeds before I do any cleaning and sorting, and after sorting the seeds go into little wax paper envelopes which I am almost out of! So far I have not organized the seed-drying to any extent like Rick's. At this moment I have seeds in (labeled) paper cups all over the top of my dresser, and in various paper envelopes in a box on my table.

Which reminds me, I have a whole lot of seed organizing to do. Green Grin!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 21, 2014 12:48 PM CST
Kyla, I'm guessing you have no cats?

Storing in paper (in a uniformly dry climate) is probably better than storing in plastic. Even very dry seeds metabolize a LITTLE, which releases humidity, which speeds up metabolism,k aging seeds faster.

Best of all would storing seeds in coin envelopes or other paper, INSIDE something that seals tight, with a desiccant packet and humidity card or humidity meter.

I store in 2x3" Ziplocs, and rely on the leaky "zipper" and diffusion right through thin plastic to let humidity out. I used to keep silica gel in every tub, but haven't refreshed it in too long!
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
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kylaluaz
Oct 21, 2014 11:51 PM CST
Smiling

I do have cats, but the only one with access to the seed sorting area is unusually well behaved, usually. Green Grin!

And my "operation" is very low key and haphazard, compared to yours! I tip my hat to you.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 22, 2014 10:52 AM CST
I have an elaborate system, but last year grew nothing and saved nothing! Life got busy and I got lazy.

Meanwhile, all my seeds are slowly getting older.

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Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
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kylaluaz
Oct 22, 2014 11:02 AM CST
You keep them so carefully I bet they will retain viability for quite a while, Rick.

Someone gave me some seeds -- all commercially purchased -- she'd not been able to use and had kept sealed in plastic. There are a lot of packets! and some are from 1999, the rest from 2006. I'm not sure it's even worth trying but I'll probably see what they do. Mostly sunflowers but a few other things.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 22, 2014 11:28 AM CST
>> You keep them so carefully I bet they will retain viability for quite a while, Rick.

Thank you very much! If fussing and fiddling are good for seeds, these should last for 100 years. If I had kept up with new-silica-gel-pkts, they might be in really great shape.

>> There are a lot of packets! and some are from 1999, the rest from 2006.

Well, if it was harvested in 2006, that's only 8 years. I see "4-6 years" listed as sunflower seed viability under ideal storage conditions.

If they were very dry before going into plastic, at least they were protected from swings in humidity, and probably did have ideal conditions for at least the first several years.

I expect commercial seeds to be dried very thoroughly, but I've also learned to look at commercial pkts to see if they say "packaged FOR 2006". That only means that they met national standards for commercial seed viability in 2006 - they might already have been 2, 3 or 4 years old.

I bet you would get 10-50% viable seeds. The number of authorities solemnly announcing how long seeds last is greatly exceeded by the number of people who left an open paper bag in a shed for much longer than that, sowed thickly, and got a good stand of whatever it was.

Because I like to fiddle, I would be tempted to put more effort into old second-hand seeds than new, carefully selected ones (I'm not sayin' that makes any sense whatsoever ...)

You COULD give them an overnight soak in 0.1% hydrogen peroxide (1.5 tsp of drugstore peroxide per cup of water). Then test their germination rate on paper towels in a Ziploc baggie (sunflowers at 70F). And label everything like a science experiment. Maybe plant out each sprout into a 4" pot.

If the seeds have lost vigor and used up most of their stored food through long storage, I would expect lots more of them to sprout than have enough strength to fight off mold and push through an inch of soil to find the Sun. If you coax them with dilute peroxide and sterile potting soil, their apparent "viability" will be much greater.

Or just mix all the sunflower seeds together and sow them 4 times thicker than you would otherwise. Maybe 100 times less effort for slightly less return.

I swear: the BEST way to increase the germination rate of seeds is to assume they are all too old, then sow them too thickly. Those little rascals ALL seem to sprout if I do that!
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Oct 22, 2014 11:45 AM CST
RickCorey said:>>
I swear: the BEST way to increase the germination rate of seeds is to assume they are all too old, then sow them too thickly. Those little rascals ALL seem to sprout if I do that!


Hilarious! Been there, done that! Absolute truth! Hilarious!
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
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kylaluaz
Oct 22, 2014 3:15 PM CST
That's my method! Plant thick and they'll have to come up for air, if only to get away from all the others!

Hilarious!

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