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6 Steps for a DIY Home Seed Germination Test

Before you go to all the work to plant Heirloom Seeds you have purchased or plant the seeds you collected from your garden this do this easy test to make sure your seeds are good.  In general as long as your seeds are properly stored, they can remain viable with a high germination rate for years. It is important however, before you sow your seeds , to know how healthy and viable they really are. Purchasing fresh Heirloom Seeds from a reputable company, is a start.  But how do you know for sure?  Especially after you you put in all the hard work to dig and prepare your garden?   If you have old seeds, or are curious about the quality of seeds that you  collected and saved, then taking the time to do a home germination test might be a good idea.

Do this easy test before you do all the work to plant seeds! 


1) Use a spray bottle, and mist down a paper towel until it is thoroughly wet.

2) You will need a sampling of Seeds for your test. The more seeds the better, but at the same time you don't want to use too many of them. It really depends on how many Seeds you have of each of the varieties that you are going to test. For instance, if you only have 50 Corn Seeds, then don't test 20 of them. I would say you should either test 10 - 20 seeds of each variety, or if you only have a small amount of seed, then no more than 10% of them.

3) Place seeds of the variety to be tested on one half of the wet paper towel, and then fold the other half over the seeds. Put the wet paper towel and Seeds in a plastic ziplock bag, and then seal it. You can use a black magic marker to mark the name of Seed variety, amount of Seeds, and starting date on outside of bag.

4) The bag should be kept in a warm dark place. I use a cabinet above my refrigerator. When you check on the Seeds from day to day, make sure the paper towel stays moist, and doesn't dry out. You can mist it from time to time.

5) Seed germination varies for each variety, but after a few days--your seeds will begin germinating. You will have to keep a running tally on good and bad seeds as you do this. The count of the Seeds that germinate (sprout) will give you an accurate germination percentage. If a Seed germinates (sprouts) then it is counted as a good seed. If some of the seeds mold or don't sprout at all, then count as bad seeds.

6) When doing this test, give your Seeds 10 days, or less if they have all germinated before then. Count all your Seeds that have germinated (sprouted) in the sampling. If you tested 20 Siberian Kale Seeds, and 18 of them germinated, then your germination percentage would be 18/20 or 90%.

If your germination percentage is high 80% or higher, then your Seeds will do just fine when time to plant them. If you noticed a lower percentage, like for example 50%, you can still make do with them by planting twice as many Seeds to get the harvest that you want. Keep in mind that older seeds, with lower germination percentages, won't be as vigorous or healthy as fresh Seeds. Sometimes, your best bet is to toss out the old Seeds, and purchase fresher seed stock. It's up to you.

Extend the life of seeds by keeping them in a Mylar bag.  THE SEED GUY for instance,  includes a  10 x 14 silver mylar bag in the Heirloom Seed packages. It will extend the life of  Seeds. At room temperature(sealed)--  mylar bags will keep Seeds at High Germination rates for 4 years, 5-7 years in the refrigerator, and 10 years in the freezer.


Disclamer:  We do not  receive compensation from The Seed Guy .  THE SEED GUY has a great 55 Variety Heirloom Seed package that has 22,000 Seeds, Small Farm Grown, Fresh from 2014 harvest, all Non GMO, and you will get a ** FREE 12 Variety FALL GARDEN Seed Pkg ** as a bonus. That's 67 total Varieties, and over 26,000 Seeds. Price is $50 You can see Seed varieties in package and order on their website .  I