Seed Starting

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List of Donated Seeds free for members – Updated May 2022

Seed Viability and Germination:

Choose seeds that are one to three years old and have been kept in a cool, dry, dark container. Older seeds can still be used but their germination rate will be lower so you may have to sow more.

You can test older seeds to prevent wasting your time or having to reseed:

  • Place 5-10 seeds between damp paper towels in a sealed container in a warm spot.
  • After the recommended germination time on the package (up to 14 days), check and see how many have sprouted. From this you can determine how many you need to use to ensure enough seedlings.
  • Any sprouted test seeds can also be potted up.

Below is a condensed seed longevity chart from shorter-lived to longer-lived:

Vegetables:Years of Viability
Onions1-2
Corn, parsnips1-3
Lettuce, spinach1-6
Beans, peas2-4
Beets, swiss chard, peppers2-5
Carrots3-4
Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale3-5
Melons, radishes4-5
Squash, cucumbers3-6
Tomatoes3-7
Herbs:
Fennel, caraway1-2
Chives, lovage, sage1-3
Borage, cilantro, dill, lemon balm, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, savory, thyme1-4
Basil, lemongrass3-5
Mint, oregano4
Companion Flowers:
Verbena, Pansy1-5
Marigolds, Poppies, Zinnias2-5
Cosmos, Sunflowers, Sweet peas, Lupine3-5
Calendula4-6
Nasturtium3-7

Reference and seed storage advice: High Mowing Seeds, West Coast Seeds, Johnny Selected Seeds