1, 2, 3, germ!

Monday Oct 30 2017

1, 2, 3, ...germ!?!

No, I’m not talking about the start of flu season, but rather a much more exciting time. In the seed world, ‘germ’ is the shorthand we use for germination. Germination is that magical thing seeds do when they begin to develop into a plant (given the right conditions).

So, we’re off to the races here at Hope Seeds. Suzana has been packing the germination box full and, at times, the office smells of cucumber and melon sprouts (which don’t taste as good as they smell, unfortunately).

During germination testing, we try to emulate nature in the same way that one does when starting seeds in containers or sowing them in the garden. Different types of seeds require different conditions to germinate, but luckily for food gardeners, most vegetable seeds don’t require special treatment beyond a little bit of warmth and moisture. We follow standards and procedures set out in the Canada Seeds Act to test our seeds and take a lot of good advice from other resources as well. “The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds” by Bob Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough is one of our favourite reference books, especially for oddball seeds.

You can do your own rough germination test at home to check on the viability of your seeds. Here’s how:

Step 1. Take a sample of 100, 50, or 10 seeds (choose a number that is easy to work with, based on how many seeds you can spare for a germ. test).  Make sure the sample is random – don’t pick and choose the best or worst looking seeds!

Step 2. Place the seeds on a moist paper towel. The paper towel should be wet but not dripping. Make sure the seeds aren’t touching one another. Fold or roll the paper towel.

Step 3. Put the paper towel inside a clear plastic bag (such as a ziploc bag) and place it in a warm, undisturbed location (such as the top of your fridge). Check periodically to make sure it hasn't dried out.

Step 4. Check your test after 3-4 days and again after 7-10 days. Record how many seeds have germinated and multiply the number by the number of seeds you’ve tested to get a percentage. For example: 18 out of 20 seeds = 90% germination. Older and less vigorous seeds tend to germinate slower so keeping track of the days to germination might also provide you with some clues about the life of your seeds.

Remember, seed viability is affected by storage conditions and varies from seed to seed.

Want to learn more about seed longevity? Take a look at our handout here

Ready to order fresh seeds for 2018? See our seed availability online or hold on tight for our new catalogue in the new year.


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4:53 PM October 30th 2017
by Sue
Looking forward to the new 2018 catalogue!

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