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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5 Great Tomatoes for Cool Climates | Veggie Gardener (With Commentary from The Tomato Lady!)

this is a good article that I got in my email. it showcases early tomatoes. I  have grown all of these but Novia. I am carrying SubArctic, Legend, and Black Prince. Look for my My Two Cents Worth: I will tell you my thoughts on the variety.

Here’s a tip for early tomatoes. I will try it and let you know how it works. Or you can try it and let me know how it works for you. Flick the blossoms (they are self pollinating) or take a cotton swab/paint brush to pollinate your early tomatoes. Sometimes we don’t have the necessary wind or the bees aren’t out yet so they aren’t being pollinated, therefore no fruit. I don’t know why I never thought of this myself!

Tomatoes are very adaptive plants, and can produce fruit in a wide variety of climates and regions. Whether you live in zone 4 or in zone 10, you can grow tomatoes without too much trouble.Although this is true it is important to choose varieties that are well-matched for the climate you live in for the best results. Some tomato varieties perform best in very warm climates, while others are bred for better production in cooler climates.If you live in a cool climate (from zone 6 to zone 4) here are five tomato varieties that should thrive for your area.

Northern Exposure

Northern Exposure is a determinate tomato variety that performs very well in cool climates. They are generally ready to pick in about 67 days after transplanting outside which is great for shorter seasons.The compact size of this tomato plant makes them perfect for containers. According to my sources it is now sold on Burpee seed racks as Burpee Early Harvest Hybrid. I honestly don’t know why they change the names! My Two Cents Worth: I have grown this for sale but not put it in my own garden (I only have so much garden space). I have heard from my customers that they love this tomato. It is a very healthy plant in my greenhouse.

 

Sub Arctic

With a name like Sub Arctic you know this tomato does well in cooler, short climates. It is a determinate variety that produces four ounce tomatoes in about 42 days after transplanting.Ideal for short seasons in the north, or for a quick harvest in southern vegetable gardens. My Two Cents Worth: I love this tomato. Grew it for years but never put it in my garden until I had a leftover plant. I put it into an enormous container and loved, loved, loved it. They are a smaller tomato, about the size of a ping pong ball, sometimes larger and very sweet and bright red. I am offering this one this year.

Legend

The Legend tomato is another variety that produces well in cool climates and is resistant to late blight.It produces large fruit that can measure four to five inches in diameter and are a bright, glossy red color. This is one of the earliest maturing slicing tomatoes available. My Two Cents Worth: This is a lovely tomato, good flavor, consistent size, shape and color. Plus, it doesn’t want to take over the world. In my garden the fruit didn’t get to 5″ across but about the size of baseballs. I am offering this one this year.

Novia

The Novia tomato variety is an indeterminate that produces seven to nine ounce fruit and is very disease resistant.They contain a high level of lycopene which is a beneficial antioxidant. These tomatoes perform well in cooler climates, but can also be grown as far south as zone 9.

Black Prince

The Black Prince tomato variety comes from Siberia, so you know it is used to some cold weather and short seasons.This heirloom tomato features medium-sized fruit that are a deep red with green to purplish shoulders. They are loved for their rich, almost smoky tomato flavor and excellent hardiness in cold temperatures. My Two Cents Worth: This is very pretty tomato. One of those that are considered “black” Mine were a dark, dusky puprle with green shoulders and about the size of large eggs. The inside is a  beautiful dark red and the taste is good but I honestly don”t get the “smokey”  flavor. I think that is a trick of the mind!  I am offering this one this year.

Source: 5 Great Tomatoes for Cool Climates | Veggie Gardener

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

ted's-5-colorted-chinese-five-color-2015

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

The Letter of the Day T: “T” is for the Tomato, Tumbler and the Pepper, Tabasco

Tumbler

Specially bred for hanging baskets. Bushy plants look fantastic mixed with lobelia and alyssum. Sweet, bright red fruits. We sell them in the small pots and as baskets. Perfect for someone who wants to hang it on their balcony or patio. Determinate, early

This is a picture of one I had hanging on my patio. It is planted with flowers. Who says veggies can’t be pretty?

tumbler-for web

Tabasco- HOT

Originally from Mexico—and taking its name from a Mexican state—this small, very hot pepper’s a favorite in the South and East, where the plants can grow tall and are covered with the petite light yellow-green to red fruits. Best known as the pepper that lends the kick to the namesake hot sauce from Avery Island, Louisiana.TOBASCO

The Letter of the Day is F: “F” is for Tomatoes, Fiorintino (Costoluto) and Fireworks

Fiorintino

tomato-fiorintino

My description on my website: A fantastic old Tuscan Heirloom variety with dark red skin and juicy delicious flesh. Shaped slightly flattened with fluted shoulders. Fruits are typically about 8 ounces, with a smoother shape than the heavily ribbed Costoluto Genovese. The flavor is high in sugar with excellent acid, making for outstanding taste that’s wonderful fresh or made into sauces. Fusarium resistant too!

My Notes: These were prolific and most were of a medium size. The taste was pretty good too. I liked to cut their tops off and stuff them with chicken salad. The fluted edges really stood out. Great for cooking and salsa.

Indeterminate, 80 days

Fireworks


My description on my website: This is one of the largest, earliest red slicing tomatoes available, and it has excellent flavor. Fireworks is an exceptional variety. Its bright red fruit are 6 to 8 ozs., round with a pointed tip, and borne quite heavily on vigorous plants.

My Notes: One of the earlies that is an indeterminate and a larger tomato which is unusual for an early tomato. Jetsetter and Siletz are all a good size. I will be growing it in my garden for myself this year. I had so many customers who raved about it’s size and taste that I need to see it for myself!

Indeterminate, 60 days

Nifty Way to Plant an Accessible Kitchen Garden

Aside

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Here is a picture I saw on facebook about a different way to garden. The only caveats: the bag will weigh a lot so make sure that where you put it, is where you want it (you might try putting it on a cart with wheels if you want to move it to catch sun) and that what you put it on, is able to hold it’s weight. Also, PUT DRAINAGE HOLES UNDERNEATH, LOTS OF THEM!

Try shallow rooted veggies like radishes, round carrots, lettuce, spinach, beets etc.

Today I Planted Sweet Pepper Seed and Transplanted Over 300 Impatiens

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Despite my inability to stand without pain in my knees I managed to transplant 6 different varieties of impatiens, including Athena, Mystic, Red Flash and Butterfly Mix. I love handling the little guys, it makes me feel like spring although the forecast is for snow tonight.

Today and yesterday, I seeded 24 varieties of sweet peppers. California Wonder, Albino bullnose and White Lakes (both cream colored), Sweet Pickle, Sweet Banana, Sheepnose  and several colors of mini bells, to name a few. A couple of the hot peppers that were planted last week are coming up. Hot peppers take longer to germinate so I am surprised. 

Onions are up and Hot Peppers planted

ImageImageImageearly jalapeno

Onions are up! Impatiens are up! Snapdragons and lobelia too! It’s nice to see signs of spring, even if it’s only under lights in the house.  Oh, and I have Yugoslavian Buttercrunch coming up too.

I tried something different with my onions, I planted them individually in plug trays since they don’t seem to like being transplanted at a young age.

Yesterday I planted hot peppers, Hot peppers are notoriously slow to germinate and then sometimes they are spotty. Depends on the freshness of the seed and the variety. First I soaked them in weak tea. Pain in the butt to separate them, stuck to my fingers. Here is the list: Arbol, Bhut Jolokia (yes, the infamous ghost), Cayenne, Early Jalapeno, Habanero, Hungarian Yellow Wax, Maules Red Hot, Pasilla, Pepperoncini, Serrano, Tabasco, Anaheim, Shishitso

I don’t like hot peppers although I have been know to use a smidgen of jalapeno in my salsa.

We’ve had snow and cold weather until the pineapple express rolled in last night. Now it’s 45 degrees. Melting all our snow.