How to Test the Germination Rate of Your Old Seeds – Courtesy of You Grow Girl

This is an excellent article on testing the germination rate of seeds. If you are like me, I am always saving seeds I buy, seeds I collect from my garden, seeds I save from other folk’s plants… Sometimes I feel the need to test the germination rate of seeds I buy from commercial seed houses! Occasionally I get no or little germination on a seed packet.

How to Test the Germination Rate of Your Old Seeds

I love to buy, collect, save, and trade seed, but I have to admit that I do not go about it in a particularly organized fashion. While I am careful about where and how I store my seeds and I do have my own “it’s all in my head” system, it doesn’t exactly compare to some of the personal seed banks I have seen. I do not have Excel charts or lists of any kind that track what I have and when I got it. If I’m being honest, I often don’t realize I am out of a particular something or other unless I bother to check ahead of time. However, most years that moment doesn’t come until I am in the act of sowing. Whoops, guess I won’t be growing that this year.  For this reason, it’s not uncommon for me to find packets in my stash that are older than I can remember. Most store-bought seeds have a “packed for” date on them, but I receive a lot of seed in trade, and some of those traders are even less organized than me. The seed of some plants last no more than a year or so. If I find an unmarked, rogue packet of onions or leeks I can be nearly certain that they are junk. Tomatoes seem to last forever, so if I find a packet of unknown origin that I’d like to grow, it’s worth spending the time to test its germination rate.A germination test determines the viability of the seed — how many in a packet will reliably germinate. This is important because the window of opportunity to get some crops sown and growing can be short. I’ve lost the chance to grow a specific variety some years because I sowed and then waited on seed that wouldn’t grow.Germination rate can also provide a gauge of a seed’s vigor. I explain what this is below.

How to Test for Germination Rate
There are lots of ways to go about this. Some people use paper towels. I use coffee filters because I find it easier to see the germinated seeds and their roots should I opt to plant those that have germinated. Fragile roots and leaves tend to disappear in the pile of paper towels.

What You Need:
Coffee filters
Plastic baggies
Water
10 Seeds (per test)
Permanent marker

Cut or tear the coffee filter along the bottom and one side seam. Lightly moisten with water so that it is moist, but not sopping wet. I sometimes use a spray bottle but you can also just dip it into a bowl of water and squeeze it out.

Open the filter up flat and lay out 10 seeds on one half. You do not have to do 10 seeds at a time, but it makes figuring out the germination rate a heck of a lot easier. Spread the seeds out so that they aren’t touching. I do this so that there is less chance that their roots will become entangled should I decide to plant them up.

Fold the half of the coffee filter that does not have seeds over onto the side that does.

Fold the bottom half up.

Place the moist and folded coffee filter inside a baggie and seal. Write the variety name and the date you started the test on the outside of the baggie. I write this onto sticker labels so I can reuse the baggies in further testing.

Place the sealed and labelled baggies in a warm place and check on them every few days to see whether germination has occurred. Some seeds may require more time. Some may also require light in order to germinate, or more heat.

Tip: The majority of the seeds I test do well in a kitchen or utility drawer that is used often. Otherwise I have a tendency to forget about them! I also put a sticky note on the front of the drawer as an added reminder to keep checking the seeds! Hot peppers tend to need more heat, so I keep them on top of a reliably warm (but not hot) appliance.

The rate is determined by the number of seeds out of 10 that have germinated. For example, 6 out of 10 seeds = 60% 3 out of 10 = 30% and so on.

You can go ahead and plant any seedling that have germinated into soil just as you would a seed. Don’t bother trying to remove the seedling from the paper — you risk damaging delicate roots. Instead, tear the paper around the plant. (Note: If your seedlings have browned roots like mine do in the above photo then I would not suggest planting them up. I left those too long and the roots were starting to rot.)

Loss of Vigor: Seeds that fall below 70% germination tend to suffer from a loss of vigor that will increase with each passing year. What this means is that even though many of them will still germinate, the seedlings that develop may not be healthy or develop into strong, vital plants. If the percentage isn’t too low you may decide to take a chance and see how the seedlings develop. It should be easy enough to determine which are suffering. However, if you’re planning to save seed from this plant for future crops then you may want to replace the seed now. Unhealthy plants beget unhealthy plants and since you’re going to the effort, it is worth it to start out with the best of the best.

Please note that some varieties suffer from a poor germination rate even when new and healthy, so it’s important to know your plant/variety.

Tip: I keep all of my seed testing equipment (including the used baggies) together with my seed saving equipment in one of the dollar store containers that I use for organizing seed. That way I have it on hand whenever I need it.

Source: How to Test the Germination Rate of Your Old Seeds – You Grow Girl

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Behind the Scenes: Planting Peppers Seeds,, Petunias, Lobelia, Alyssum, Pansies and Million Bells

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Here you are looking about 1000 or so peppers seeds.

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Here I am planting pepper seeds and some flowers. I planted 50 different varieties of peppers, superhots, sweet bell, non sweet bells, hot and medium hot peppers. I was scared to death to touch the seeds from the superhots so I used tweezers to place them in the seedling pots. My luck, I would have touched them and then my eye, not thinking! Ouch! This was on January 15. They have almost all come up now. We have a ton of baby jalapenos. For all of my seeds I use a sterile seed starting mix and clean single pots. Damping off is an ugly thing!

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This is how my pelletized petunia seed came. It is put into a gel cap, and looks sort of like Contact cold medicine. Depending on variety, there are 5 to 10 seeds. I love working with it in this form, much easier to not over sow. In it’s “wild” form, it is like brown dust. You might think you used 25 seed but in reality, you just dispensed 349 seeds!

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Such tiny little seeds.

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Petunia and Million Bells seeds don’t like to be covered. They need light to germinate. Peppers on the other hand need a thin scattering of seed starting mix over them. Always read your seed packet to see what the light requirements are for germination.

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Million Bells is another one that I like to work with pelletized. They are coated with a clay like substance. the seed lays on top (press into the seed starting mix) and wet with water. This softens the clay coat and they are able to germinate. I use tweezers to distribute as evenly as I can so they can grow after germinating and not crowd each other. They take a long time to obtain a size that I like transplanting. I have found there is no point in rushing them.

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Mucho Nacho Jalapeños and Emerald Fire Jalapeños -A Germinators Dream! (at least this year)

Every once in a while you meet a plant that you really like. This year, mine is the Mucho Nacho Jalapeño and the Emerald Fire Jalapeño, Peppers are notoriously hard to germinate, especially the superhots (Carolina Reapers, Ghost and Trinidad Scorpions) and the hot (Tabasco, Habanero, Serrano, Hungarian Yellow Wax etc.) to mildly hot (Jalapeños, Numex Big Jim, Anaheims, Poblanos etc.) Some of the hot peppers can take up to 4 weeks or more to germinate and then if you get 50% you think you are doing pretty good.

 

mucho-nacho-jalapeno2Mucho Nacho is a new one for me this year. It is supposed to be hotter, fatter, longer, more prolific, well, you get the picture, than a regular Jalapeño. It was the first one to germinate and it was very happy, vibrant and healthy. Lush. I can’t say enough about it.

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The Emerald Fire was a close second. Germination on both of these were close to 90 – 95% which is really good. Nice strong stems, beautiful true leaves, easy to handle when transplanting into 3.5” pots.

For those of you who germinate your own seeds in a greenhouse you can understand how happy I was to handle these guys. Some plants, especially flowers practically require magnifying glassed and tweezers!

jalapeno-green-pepperMucho Nacho Jalapeños – 68-70 Days

An impressive Jalapeño from Mexico, large, 4” fruits are fatter, thicker, heavier, hotter, and up to a full inch longer than regular Jalapeños. They start off green and mature to red. Vigorous and prolific, they set heavy loads about a week earlier than is typical of Jalapeños.

ad8bf754-f0b0-446d-992d-573a80710745_1000Emerald Fire Jalapeño – 90 Days

These hot peppers are good for salsa, pickling, grilling, and stuffing, Extra-large, thick-walled, crack-resistant peppers, plump and delicious. Emerald Fire is very prolific and there will be enough peppers to share with your friends and family!

Winner of a 2015 All-America Selection, Emerald Fire is compact enough for patio containers, but may need some support to hold up all the peppers! Easy to grow, standing up to heat, humidity, and refuses to crack. Long season but worth the wait!

Super Hot and Hot Peppers Planted

Trinidad-Scorpion-Hot-Pepper

Yesterday, I planted my super hots and hot peppers. The super hots are: Trinidad Scorpion, Chocolate Trinidad Scorpion, Carolina Reaper, Ghost Pepper and Peach Ghost Pepper. The plain old hot peppers, the one that destroy-your-tastebuds-but-don’t-take-your-face-off are: Tabasco, Serrano, Cayenne, Hungarian Yellow Was, Thai and Habanero. The next peppers are still too hot for me; they are Jalapeno, TAM Jalapeno (customer request, supposedly a milder Jalapeno) Padron, Anaheim, Poblano,Chinese Five Color and Golden Greek Pepperoncini.

Super hot peppers are notorious for poor germination and long time coming up. That’s why I start them sooner than the sweets. Hot peppers like Habanara and Cayenne also require longer germination times.

I always use a germination mix which is finer than regular potting mix and supposedly sterile which cuts down on things like damping off, a fungal disease. Nothing is worse than seeing the babies raise their pretty green heads and the next day wondering why they all fell down. And died. Very sad.

They are under lights in our dining room, nice and toasty warm. I bottom watered with hot water to get them started. Once they come up I will use warm water.

As i look out at the white beauty, I marvel that I am able to start seeds so early. We use ordinary space heaters to keep the greenhouse warm.

Be on the look out for more posts describing the peppers. Gives you something to look forward to…warmer temps, green grass, daffodils and crocus….

 

Chinese Five Color – a customer favorite, hot but not too hot, so they say. I am a wimp!

pepper chinese five color

Male And Female Peppers: Fact Or Fiction? – PepperScale

Great article from PepperScale.This is in response to a post I saw on Facebook this morning.

A plant world sex scandal… Do bell peppers have a gender? Some say they do. The idea has been around for a while but only recently has it caught traction. According to the theory, there are distinct male and female peppers and the gender indicates whether a bell pepper has more seeds or whether it […]

Source: Male And Female Peppers: Fact Or Fiction? – PepperScale

Shishito Peppers – The Gourmet Pepper From Japan

shishito-hot-pepperPepper Profiles: Shishito

This gourmet pepper is an exotic delicacy iconic to Izakaya (Japanese tapas/appetizers).The Shishito Pepper is delicious and couldn’t be easier to prepare.

Native to Japan, the slender, green peppers grow 3”- 4” long, have delicate skin and a slightly pleated surface. Most of them have a hist of grassy and peppery flavor, with a faint note of citrus. However, some (approximately one in ten) have a real bite! It’s almost like playing roulette. They mature to a fiery red.

Shishito-Pepper

The plants have a  spreading habit and produce prolifically.

To highlight their bright flavors, simply heat oil  in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the peppers, turning occasionally, until they begin to blister on all sides. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt—they are ready to enjoy! They are also wonderful grilled, deep fried or tossed on top of pizzas and salads.

Shishito-Peppers-Pictures

Recipe: Shishito Peppers

 Courtesy of Author: Julie du Pont
Recipe type: Starter
Prep time:  2 mins
Cook time:  5 mins
Total time:  7 mins
Serves: 6
Sauteed Shishito Peppers guaranteed to get your party started!
Ingredients
  • 4 cups Shishito Peppers
  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • 2 tbsp good soy sauce
  • Large Sea Salt Flakes
Instructions
  1. Slit the side of each pepper. I like to leave the little stem on the pepper because it allows guests to grab easily, but you can also remove the stems if that is your preference.
  2. Heat a large wok or frying pan on high heat until it is very hot. Add butter. Once butter is sizzling and almost to the point where it browns, add the peppers and toss with a wooden spoon for about 4 minutes until they begin to blister. Add soy sauce and stir with wooden spoon for about a minute until the butter and soy sauce create a glaze over the peppers. Remove from pan and dust with large flaked sea salt. Serve immediately and take your chances that you don’t get one of the spicy ones!

Chinese Five Color Hot Peppers

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These are screaming hot little peppers. And beautiful too! The two pictures above are taken from my friend’s garden in Rathdrum, Idaho. He absolutely loves them. Since I don’t eat hot peppers, I have to take his word for it. Ted says he puts one into a pot and it flavors the chili quite nicely.

These peppers turn a rainbow of vibrant colors; from purple, cream, yellow, orange to red as they ripen. They would work as an interesting ornamental if you don’t eat hot peppers. The plants are great for containers. Just pick a few any time to liven up your salsa.

I transplanted 67 of them yesterday. Funny thing is, I only had 7 come up last year and Ted took 5 of them. This year, I should have at least a hundred for sale this year.

pepper chinese five color

Time To Tell Me Your Favorite Tomatoes and Peppers

It is time to hear from my customers about what tomatoes and peppers they want to see on my list this year. I have allready ordered some that I always plant but want to be sure to include your favorites. Remember if I don’t hear from you, I plant the ones I like! The tomato in the picture is Indigo Cherry Drops and Marglobe. Two of my new favorites from last year. I loved the Marglobe so much that I wondered why I hadn’t grown it in my own garden! The pepper is called Islander and I loved it’s colors. What did you particularly like?

Update Pictures on Pepper Babies, Carolina Reaper, Trinidad Scorpion, Albino Bullnose, Guajillo, and Others

Here are some pictures of my pepper babies which i started mid-January. These were taken about two weeks ago. I will update them soon. They are best crop I’ve ever had.

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Albino Bullnose – one of my favorites. Starts out this amazing white and turns to a beautiful, dark red. My first experience with a white pepper.

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Carolina Reaper, a superhot, not for weenies!

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Guajillo – a customer request, hot but not searing

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Petite Colour – mini multi colored pepper mix

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Trinidad Scorpion, a superhot.

Carolina Reaper, Ghost Pepper, and Trinidad Scorpion Have Been Seeded!

I seeded my super hots and my “just plain hot” peppers over the last couple of days.

The superhots: Carolina Reaper, purportedly the hottest pepper in the world, the Ghost pepper, aka Bhut Jolokia, and the Trinidad Scorpion can take up to 8 weeks to germinate.

The normal hot peppers (ones that are not reported to set your head on fire) that I planted are Thai, two kinds of Habanero, Serrano, Cayenne, Hungarian Hot Wax and Chinese Five Color can also be slow. I do know they are slow to grow, hence my starting them in January. Next week I will sow the rest of them. The sweet bells, non sweet bells and the medium hots like Jalapenos, Poblanos etc.

The funny thing is that I am of hispanic descent yet I don’t like anything even remotely spicy! Wait, I do have a caveat to that statement. I will use the smallest piece of jalapeno that I can get away with in my salsas for flavor. And I mince it to dust at that.

Carolina_Reaper_Pilemaya pepper chinese five color hungarian yellow wax Trinidad-Scorpion-Hot-Pepper