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Germination Notes

March 8th, 2017

Every year I watch closely as I start seeds, taking note of germination rates for new seed and old seed. Lettuce is one of those things that I started buying fresh each year after noticing reduced germination from even year old seed. This year, I purchased a few new varieties to try.


I noticed that one variety in particular has not germinated at all – zero seeds have germinated. With other varieties I have around 95% germination rate. Instead of writing them off (or writing the company), I decided to give them another go. Yesterday I seeded three more soil blocks of ‘Alkindus’ lettuce. I’ll keep my eye on them, if I don’t get any germination this time around I’ll definitely write the company and see if they’ve had similar complaints. Since I had such great germination of all other varieties in the flat, I know it’s not the conditions.

Do you have certain seed you buy fresh each year? Have you noticed decreased germination rates in old seed?

3 Comments to “Germination Notes”
  1. Nebraska Dave on March 8, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Susy, I had that same issue. Three years ago I bought a heat mat that is the perfect size for a 72 cell seed tray, I plant the seed tray with very moist potting mix. Put the cover on and set the tray on the heat mat for three days. Some of the seeds are starting to barely poke through but most are not up yet at three days. Then the cover comes off and the tray goes under the grow lights with bottom watering. I’ve started onions, cabbage, Marigolds and lettuce this year with great success with this method. This week or weekend, the tomatoes, green peppers, and eggplants will be started. The heat mat made a big difference for me.

    Have a great seed starting day.

    Nebraska Dave
    Urban Farmer
    Omaha, Nebraska, USA
    Nebraska Dave´s last post ..Before Planting Projects

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

    • MC on March 8, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      It has made a big difference for me, too, but onions, leeks, etc., I have to start fresh for best results, and even then, I will get a dud batch of seeds. I wanted to try Dakota Pearl onions from Fedco this year, and my germination rate is about 20%. Patterson from Johnny’s is about 100%. Both got the same care.

      Reply to MC's comment

  2. Carolee on March 13, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Haven’t had trouble with older lettuce seed, but old spinach seed definitely drops in germination rate big time. I always buy new spinach seed (Gangbusters from Renee’s is terrific) Of course, I don’t throw out the old spinach seed, but I plant it directly outdoors in a bit of border area, not the prime space in the raised beds. Sometimes I get a meal or two, sometimes not.

    Reply to Carolee's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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