How long do garden seeds last? How do you tell if your old seeds are still good? Let’s find out!
Wintertime is the season when these questions matter. The gorgeous seed catalogs arrive in the mail, tempting you with beautiful photographs.
But before you go crazy, it’s time to inventory your leftover seeds to avoid duplication and determine viability.
Seeds are living things and their viability is affected greatly by the way they are stored. Most experts agree on dark, cool, and dry conditions as being the best. We keep some of our seeds in the refrigerator, but most are in open boxes in the dining room—probably not the best location!
Some seeds inherently have a longer life expectancy than others, too. Most last for a couple of years if stored in a dry, cool place. Consult the table below to see how long some of the most common garden seeds last.
|Replace after…||Type of Seed|
|1 Year||Lettuce, onions, parsley, parsnips, salsify|
|2 Years||Corn, leeks, okra, peppers|
|3 Years||Asparagus, beans, broccoli, carrots, celery, kohlrabi, peas, spinach|
|4 Years||Beets, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, Swiss chard, eggplants, kale, pumpkins, radishes, rutabagas, squashes, tomatoes, turnips, watermelons|
|5 Years||Cucumbers, endive, cantaloupes|
This is as easy as placing ten seeds on a damp paper towel, folding them up, and placing it in a plastic bag. Put the bag in a warm spot and check after a week or so to see if any of the seeds have sprouted.
Once you have determined what you need, you can shop with a clear plan in mind and be less likely to overbuy.
Have fun looking through this year’s seed catalogs and dreaming of your best garden ever. Summer is just a page away in a seed catalog!
Bell Tower Festival
at the gardens
Gardens are always open
10:00 - 4:00 PM Daily
Weekends: May - October
10:00 - 4:00
201 East Lincoln Way
Jefferson, Iowa 50129
The Thomas Jefferson Gardens bring to life the prairies that welcomed Lewis and Clark explorers and early settlers, heritage plants from Monticello, farming practices of Thomas Jefferson’s time, outdoor musical instruments to experience, a children’s garden, and so much more.