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I almost never throw away seed packets. Every year I buy some more, so I wound up with a pile of seed packets. I've kept them stored in my storeroom, which is cool and dry.
I want to see what is viable before planting them. If a packet proves to be nonviable, I'll compost it.
I do this every couple of years. I like it as a winter ritual. Not exactly Solstice, but January is colder and more gloomy here, than December, so a ritual of impending Spring is good.
This method works for me. I sprout them on a labeled paper towel. Ballpoint pen works as a marker. The size of paper towel that we use, is a good fit for a ziplock sandwich bag. Just using the paper towel is hard to handle, so I cut a piece of kitchen wax paper the same size, and lay the paper towel on the wax paper before beginning.
I don't care about the exact percentage that grow, so I don't count the seeds. I place a few in each square. Then I moisten the paper towel with a spoon of water, over each bunch of seeds. That makes the seeds stick to the paper towel. The spoon makes the water easy to dole out in small amounts.
Then i fold the paper towel over, moisten more so the entire towel is moist but not super wet. Then fold over the wax paper too.
It all goes into a zip lock bag. In this photo it's held up to the light. The moisture holds the seeds in place.
Now they go onto the heating mat. When I checked last year, it ran about 80 or 85 degrees F. In the past, I used a heating pad - the kind you use for aching joints - set on low. Mine ran about 85 degrees as well, so it worked. I was concerned it might short out or something. But it didn't. I've used the top of the fridge, which is warm, as an alternative. Some hot water heaters are warm but not hot on top, so that might work too.
Here are some I finished today. This is after 4 days. This method sprouts some seeds really fast. Since I'm just testing, and it's too early to plant outside, they go into the compost bin. Except the radish sprouts, which I ate.
These were more 50/50. The tomato seeds and cilantro seeds haven't sprouted yet. They may take longer, or may not be viable. I removed the Tavera bean and butternut squash sprouts, ate the radish sprouts, and returned the rest to the mat. I'm not sure - cilantro might require cooler conditions.
I like doing this. Most seeds last several years in reasonable storage conditions - not attic or hot garage, not damp hot kitchen. Some people freeze them. Some types last longer than others. This way I know what's viable before I plant them.
A 2,000 year old Judean date seed was germinated in 2005 and is now old enough to bear pollen. Unfortunately, it's a male tree. If it can be cross bred with other date palms, then 50% Judean dates hybrids an be grown. Then, back cross to the original male, and they're 75%. One more back cross gets them to 87%. By the time those are mature, none of us may be around to taste them. But it's interesting to think about.
My oldest seeds to sprout were some dried hot peppers my partner carried in a package from China. They were in the kitchen cabinet for 10 years. I managed to grow plants from seeds removed from those peppers, but unfortunately didn't save seeds from the resultant peppers. They were about the same as Thai peppers, so probably not much loss. I've also used 7 year old tomato seeds and 5 year old bean and radish seeds. I found a 10 year old packet of radish seeds, and am testing those now.