Maker of clothes, recipes, natural fabric dyeing, Gardener of veg, fruit and flowers.

Maker of clothes, recipes, natural fabric dyeing, Gardener of veg, fruit and flowers.

How to check for seeds viability

Here a story that I would like to share on how to check for seeds viability. It’s now in March here in London. Spring this year has arrive early and it’s now gone a bit (it’s been some strong cold winds around lately). It’s time to sow seeds again to grow from my garden.

Why do it?

I have bought my seeds last year from ebay. Some are expired (they were going cheap) and about to expire. I just love growing edibles (vegetable, fruit or flower) that I read or find on gardening websites and books. Hence I accumulate a fair of seeds over time.  I have stop buying anymore as a result. When I try to sow some of my seeds some don’t germinate that easily. Therefore I would like to share my own experience to how to check for seed viability. It just saves compost, time and space when sowing seeds for the growing season.  

Living in London space is precious when it come to growing and gardening. Some people I know even don’t have any garden in their house/ flat. Some just grow from their patio in containers. 

seedlings planted indoors

Using this method is way on checking if the seeds you kept in not optimum conditions for viability. I have kept a lot of mine need the radiator rather than in the fridge. Many say it’s better to keep in the fridge. To be honest I have got any space in my fridge. There is just simply no space for a big fridge in a small flat. I have  also done some seed saving last year. Here is a post on it

How to check

This is a very easy method. I have seen a few blog post many gardeners using this method to sow their seeds as well.

I use a kitchen towel, lay the seeds on top. Like 10 seeds or more, then make the kitchen towel damp and cover in a plastic bag. Some seeds like beans germinate quicker if you soak them overnight or some seeds you have make a slit on it’s hard shell.  

Leave it on a radiator or somewhere nice and warm. Leave it alone for 2 days to let it to germinate. Patience it’s virtue as some seeds like carrots take longer time to germinate. Don’t be surprise if there is no sign of life in 2 days. Give it at least 14 days. It’s always a good idea to label them as well.

seeds in plastic bags on radiator

 After 14 days if nothing happens then the seeds are not likely to germinate and they they are not viable. If there is lots seeds then the packets of seed you got is viable.

Say if you sow 10 seeds and you got 8 seeds viable then it’s 80% viable it’s a good rate. The less that germinates the less viable the seeds are. The germinated seeds can be planted straight away. If it’s not in season (in which I don’t recommend to do this test for seeds viability then it will have to put in compost bin or given to livestock (eg. chicken if you have got any) as food.

Also there are a few conditions that can affect the viability of how these seeds by sowing this way. As the temperature of the radiator is not constant as well. It is not the best or optimum compare to sowing seeds on a propagator. Propagator it’s design specially for sowing seeds. I don’t have it on me as due to lack of space I don’t want to own one. Also I found out from trail and error that if the plastic bag has got a hole in it. It will not germinate either.

So if your seeds don’t sprout for some reason do check that they are given the best optimum conditions.

How to check for seeds germination
seeds germination
how to check for seed viability


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