Should you order more squash seeds this spring or use the rest of the package from last spring? The answer may be "Yes" or "No" depending on several factors including the type of seeds and how they were stored.

All seeds should be stored in a dry, cool and dark location. These conditions will help prevent spoilage and premature germination. Seeds kept under proper conditions, remain viable for varying periods of time. Onion, sweet corn, parsley and parsnip seeds tend to be short lived and should be stored no more than one year. Asparagus, peas, beans, carrots and peppers can last 2 or 3 years. On average, beets, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, muskmelon, pumpkin, spinach, squash, turnip, tomato and watermelon seeds may remain viable for 4 or 5 years.

To test old seeds, spread 10 of them on a moist paper towel. Cover them with the towel and place them in a shallow pan on top of the refrigerator or other warm place. Do not allow the them to dry out. In 7 to 10 days, check to see how many of the seeds have germinated. If half or more of the seeds germinated, simply increase the seeding rate at planting to make up the difference. If only a few seeds germinate, it may be time to buy a new packet for this year’s garden.

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.


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