How Do I Know If My Seeds Are Still Good



Do you know the worst feeling when you have seeds that have been sitting on your counter or wherever you keep your seeds and wondered if the seeds are any good? Or maybe you had been busy and forgot to label them. Maybe you thought you’re going to use them and then, forgot.

Guilty as charged. Well me, I thought my memory wouldn’t fail me because, oh you know, I’m still young and I should remember, right, WRONG. That’s my ignorance. And my brain refused to indulge me any further. She said, ‘listen old woman I may be in your head but I need help too.” Well, that’s that. I’m old.

Seed Storage

I have my seeds in a rolling cart I bought. It has 3 layers and I recycled medicine bottles to put my seeds in. It’s about 3 feet in height and 2 feet wide. Every season when I plant new vegetables I plant enough that I let some go into seeds. By doing so I have seeds for next year. If I’m lazy I’ll just let them reseed Themselves for next year. That’s my forever garden.

More on my Self-sustaining vegetable garden.

Once I have gathered the seeds I put them in the medicine bottles and labeled them as to what are they, month seed gathered, and the year. This determined when I last store it. It’s important because some seeds do go bad. Learned that the hard way.

More on how to store seeds.

The Disappointment

I learned a very valuable lesson last month when I took my okra and papaya seeds to plant. I sowed them at the end of March and 10 days later I went to check on them.

I was surprised that none of them germinated. Oh my, the HORROR I felt. WHY? So sad I went to investigate the issue. Hmmm…


Now I’m a woman on a mission. Got my spectacles on like Sherlock Holmes. I grabbed my off-white storage trolley and started investigating my seeds. One package was bought from the store. That would be the okra.

The papaya seeds were given to me by no other than my lovely mother (another lover of gardening.) The papaya seeds were in the medicine bottle that was handed down to me. On further inspection, it had no date on the bottle.

I interrogated my lovely mother and she finally broke down after a grueling minute and a half. She said, “Um… I don’t know. I thought it was good. So I gave it to you because Ms. Nab Vam (name has been changed for their privacy) said it’s good.”

However, I can’t come to a conclusion with the okra seeds. The package said it was still good until 2023. Upon further investigation, I did a little experiment on my own.

The Science Experiment

science experiment

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, people of Gardenian (made up town.) Please use personal protective equipment when dealing with good old tap water. It could be dangerously good to drink and might not fully work properly. Okay, here we go!

  • A plastic cup or anything to hold water.
  • A scissor.
  • The seed(s) in question.

Fill your cup/small container with water halfway up. Take your scissors and cut or ripped the paper package if it comes in one. If not twist open your bottle and hold them in your hand. Smell the seeds. Just kidding. Pour your seeds into the cup or water and watch them swim.

Look carefully to see which seeds refused to swim. Did they all sank to the bottom or do they all swim? I am the winner! All my papaya seed swam and some of my okra sank to the bottom and some are doing a great job floating around enjoying the water.

For this experiment, you don’t want to be the winner with floating enjoying seeds you want to be the looser with loyal seeds that will sacrifice for you.

The ones that will sacrifice for you because they know they will be thriving once they come back.

How Do You Know If Your Seeds Are Still Good

When you finished your science experiment check the bottom on your cup. The sinking seeds meant it still alive, its solid and are just waiting to be put into the ground and grow. These are the ones you want to sow. You know that they will germinate.

The top floating seeds are the seeds that had dried up. There’s nothing in them. They are just hollow seed shells. There’s no mass in them so they are light and anything that is light, floats. Those are the ones you can toss them in your compost and those are the one will enhance the next generations of food.

My solution and conclusion

Okra flower

There you have it. Number one reason why your seed isn’t germinating.

  • It’s too old.

  • Loves to float in water.

  • Bad seeds.

  • Molds on seeds.

If you ever come across some seeds you had forgotten about it just do the experiment above and see if your seeds are any good.

Remember we are looking for the sunken seeds and not the floating ones. Floating ones could be in any condition mentioned above. You can do it with any seeds.

Thank you for reading my blog. I really appreciated your time as yours are as valuable as mine. If you have any comments, questions, or like to educate me, please feel free to do so. I love learning new things.


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