Determining the viability of seed is an important step in planning a successful garden. Viable seed is capable of germinating and growing into healthy plants, while non-viable seed will not. There are several ways to test the viability of seed, including the paper towel method, the float test, and the germination test.
The paper towel method is a quick and easy way to determine the viability of seed. Simply moisten a paper towel and place the seed on it. Fold the paper towel in half and place it in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and place it in a warm, dark location. After a few days, check the paper towel for signs of germination. If the seed has sprouted, it is viable. If not, it may be non-viable or dormant.
The float test is another way to test the viability of seed. Place the seed in a bowl of water and wait for several minutes. If the seed sinks, it is viable. If it floats, it is likely non-viable. Keep in mind that some seeds will float even if they are viable, so this test should not be relied on entirely.
The germination test is the most accurate way to test seed viability. This test involves planting a small number of seeds in a controlled environment and observing the rate of germination. To conduct a germination test, take a sample of at least 50 seeds and plant them in a seed tray filled with a seed compost. Cover the tray with a lid or plastic wrap and place it in a warm, dark location. Check the tray regularly for signs of germination. The percentage of seeds that germinate will give an indication of the overall viability of the seed.
It's also important to note that seed viability can be affected by a number of factors such as temperature, humidity, light and storage conditions. Old seeds that have been stored for a long time in less than optimal conditions may have a lower germination rate.
By using one of these methods or a combination of them, you can determine the viability of your seed and make informed decisions about what to plant in your garden. Knowing the germination rate will help you to plan accordingly, save money and to avoid disappointment.