London (change)
Today 15°C / 11°C
Tomorrow 15°C / 13°C

How to test seed viability

Overview

Sowing old veg seed is a bit of a gamble. It might germinate well, but it might not. Over time, seed viability decreases, and different seeds have different storage times.

To take the guesswork out of sowing old seed, do a simple viability test. It will tell you if the seed is worth sowing at all, and how much to sow. If only a small percentage of seeds germinate, you'll need to sow a greater number to ensure a decent crop.

Follow our 14-day test to check whether your old seed is worth sowing.


How to do it

Step 1

1

Lay a piece of damp kitchen towel on a plate, then sprinkle a sample of your old seed in individual rows to aid identification.


Step 2

2

Cover the plate with clingfilm and keep it in a warm place indoors. Make sure the towel stays moist and check regularly for signs of germination, noting the date when shoots appear.


Step 3

3

Germination times vary between veg, but after two weeks most viable seed should have sprouted. Count how many have germinated – if it's about half, then you've got 50 per cent viability. The lower the percentage, the more seed you'll need to sow to get a decent crop.




Discuss this project

Talkback: How to test seed viability
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step