Are you wondering if your old seed is still viable and good to germinate? Today I was wondering the same thing. The spring bug hit and I decided that I would really like to be eating some fresh peas in a few months. Peas are time intensive for picking and shelling and so some years we have skipped planting them; thus our seed is at least a decade old. Of course I never throw away seed because of its value for sustaining us. Seed will keep for years if stored properly in a cool, dry place, as the ancient Egyptians knew very well. The seed that was stored in the pyramids still has a good germination rate.
First, lay out a piece of plastic wrap that is a little larger than a paper towel. Next, write on a square of towel with a permanent market the details of the seed that you would like to germinate. Be sure and write the name of the seed and today’s date, the date that you are setting the seed to germinate. You will want to know that information for later reference. If you want a quicker germination you can soak the seeds in water overnight before you test them.
Pour a little water on your towel and then squeeze the extra water out of it. If the environment we are creating for the seeds is too wet the seeds will rot. Take 10 seeds out of your packet and place on your towel. 10 seeds make it easy to figure the germination rate.
Fold the towel into fourths keeping the seeds separate, and then fold the plastic wrap around the towel allowing one end to be slightly open for air. Seed is a living thing and needs a little air flow.
Place your trial packages in a warm place of at least 70 degrees. Some people like to place them on the top of the refrigerator, but do not forget it. Check on it every day to see how the seeds are progressing and to keep them moist.
On Day 2 the seed has swollen slightly. The towel may be a little dry so I add about a teaspoon of water to keep it moist. If your seed environment becomes dry your seed will die. I will be checking on the packages every day to see how the germinating is coming along and also to make sure the seed does not dry out.
When the seed sprouts in a few days then count the amount of seed that has sprouted to know the percentage of germ. If 7 seeds out of 10 have little sprouts coming then your germination rate is 70%. If you have only 3 peas of 10 sprouted then your rate would be 30%.
To use up old seed with poor viability, then plant 3 times as many seeds as you normally would in the area to get a good crop.