Are you worried that last year's seeds won't grow in your garden?

A simple test lets you measure your seed germination rate before you plant

Now is a good time to take out your leftover seeds and inspect them to see if they are still good. It is common to have seeds leftover seeds that you purchased for last year’s garden. If stored properly the year before (in a cool, dry place) many of your seed will germinate the next year. Most seed packets these days have a date or year they were packaged stamped on them. This information is useful because some seeds last longer than others.

If you are not sure you can always do a simply seed germination test. Just take 10 seeds and place them on a dampened paper towel and fold the towel over to cover the seeds. Place the paper towel in a zipper bag that has been partially closed. Let them sit for the about a week before checking again to see if the seeds have started to germinate, making sure to keep the towel moist. Continue to check the seeds regularly until evidence of sprouting has occurred or until the time specified for germination has elapsed.

At the end of the appropriate germination time count the number of seeds that have sprouted and multiply by 10 to get the germination rate for the seed. A higher rate suggests that the seeds will be OK this year. Sowing them a little heavier than normal if you plan to sow them directly into the garden. Purchasing a bit more new seed to add to the old will ensure a full crop without worry.

For more information about gardening and starting seeds, visit our Gardening in Michigan website. For more about seed germination, go to

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