I had always heard that many types seeds won’t germinate much after the year that they are supposed to be planted, so when I unearthed a box of dusty seed packets from 2010-2012, I didn’t have high hopes. Just for fun, I planted a few in our high tunnel, using a generous pinch of seeds in each cell in anticipation of low germination rates. You can see the results below.
Turns out that many of the seeds were still viable! I’ve even taken the time to separate some of them, which is easier than it might seems as long as you do so before the roots get very developed. These photos were actually taken over a week ago, so the ones that haven’t been transplanted look even more ridiculous now.
Surprised by my success, I did a little bit of research (!), and discovered that these seeds were actually well within the range of normal longevity, even though our office (the top floor of a drafty building) is prone to temperature extremes. That’s great news for us frugal gardeners who don’t necessarily use up every packet every year. This article from the Oregon State University Extension Service gives a quick run down of minimum seed life for most common vegetable seeds.