Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dating Seeds With Years Viable

I can feels the time ticking and despite the rush to get a new business off and running, I've got to get seeds ordered for our garden. It won't be long and I'll need to start seeds under grow lights. I worried that I wouldn't have viable seeds to begin the process.
Today, in my first step in ordering seeds I decided to mark each package with how many years they are normally viable.
 This has been a great start to knowing just what I needed to order without over ordering seeds that still are good for a few more years. Some of you might wonder what the fuss is. Why do I have this pile of seed packets in my basement?

Why don't I just go out and buys some seeds every year from the local store. First and foremost, they aren't organically grown. Plus, many of the seeds now for sale have a low level of nutrition genetically engineered in them. Yes, high production, but high production sacrifices nutrition levels. It is a balancing scale that tips more and more away from our needs  for health and towards profit. A necessary thing to a degree or one doesn't stay in business.

Compound the high production low nutrition seeds with the fact that farmers add three to four nutrients to their fields each year but the soil needs fifty-two. That's forty-eight nutrients the soil is becoming more and more depleted in. Hence, the need for more pesticides because of insect infestation and disease because the plants have  malnutrition.

Then ship those depleted crops to the store and they sit there and in your refrigerator and there isn't much left but a hull. Organic, consciously grown seeds with a heirloom heritage, means higher nutrient levels inside each bite along with something that can go on giving each year, IF kept from crossing with other species. This knowledge is what keeps me going.

 Add to those seeds in most catalogues the fact that they were grown with chemicals and you add another negative to the rising pile. Worse yet is if they were raised with systemic pesticides that once are in the parent plant are now inside the seeds to be pasted on. The ones that played a major role in the disappearance of our bees. No bees, nothing but grain crops survive. We are headed on a scary spiral downward.
To keep from spending more than I need to on garden seeds, I labeled them this year with the years they are viable. Those that are a year past the date, I'm going to try a small number of seeds to see if the percentage of viability so I know if they are dead or just how thick I need to spread the seed in the row. Most I will probably mix with new seeds if they are fairly good. 

Some plants like onions surprised me how short a time they were good, only a very short time. That means I will need to grow seed every year to keep them going. Last summer was my first year in growing seed and this year, we'll see how well I did.

Coupling with this is that I plan on growing some crops every other year in larger amounts making some seeds sit for two years before being used. My garden just isn't large enough to grow everything and this rotation allows me to concentrate my efforts on fewer varieties. Should be easier during canning season too.

Next, I want to go through the list of which crops need differing amounts of water during their growing cycle. That way I can place these crops close together to insure less waste of water and higher production.  

Then which crops need what nutrients and what crops should be rotated behind others.

Here is the list of how long seeds are normally viable keeping them in a cool dry place.
Beets 4 years
Carrots 3 years
Broccoli 3 years
Beans 3 years
Corn 1 -2 years
Cucumber 5 years
Peas 3 years
Peppers 2 years
Lettuce 5 years
Tomato 4 years
Zucchini 4 years
Squash 4 years
Spinach 3 years
Onions 1 year
I hope this helps with your garden plans this year. It already has mine.

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