Thursday, July 17, 2008

Expired garden seeds...

While going through some garden seeds from last year, I pondered over the expiration dates. Do seeds REALLY expire?

I searched for the information in my gardening books --- although seeds don't really "expire" some do lose their vitality. It really depends on how well they are stored.

I've been reading a lot about how genetically altered hybrid seeds are not good for cultivating. This is why I'm so interested in heirloom gardens. Due to hybrid marketing, plants are becoming more and more extinct.

Seed Savers is a wonderful place to find rare seeds and to share and learn with other heirloom gardeners -

One of the headlines that really captured my attention was the 2000 year old date palm that was excavated in Masada - a cliff-side fortress in Israel where the Jews had killed themselves to avoid capture by the Roman soldiers.

The date seeds were found in storage rooms, stockpiled by the Jews as they hid from the invading Romans. 40 years ago these seeds were discovered and placed in a drawer until scientists decided to have them germinated.

This extinct Judean date palm sprouted and has been named, Methuselah.
I won't be tossing away any of my "expired" seeds after all. I figure if science can revive a 2000 year old date palm, I can plant seeds that I had purchased in the year 2000.


Anonymous said...

Seeds are so expensive and since I plant in containers I don't come even close to using a whole package so I keep them from year to year till their all used up. I've planted seeds that were 5 years old and had no problem. Seed companies tell you not to do that but its because they want you to keep buying for their own pockets.
As long as the seeds are kept dry they will probably never expire.

Bill McDorman said...

Each seed is a living, breathing embryo. Our experience over the past 25 years leads us to believe no one knows or has actually tested just how long different seeds will stay viable. Trust the seeds. Many of ours have lasted more than 10 years. Just keep them cool, dark and dry. You can find detailed seed saving instructions on the website of this 20 year-old nonprofit:

Helen Cates said...


Thanks for the link to your awesome website. The preservation and knowledge of cultivating our precious heirloom seeds are priceless. I've saved your weblink in my FAVORITES and plan to return.