These seed packets may include tomatoes, peppers, carrots, lettuce, beans, etc. But, these seeds are over a year old and you don't want to waste your time on dud seeds that can no longer germinate.
Thus, you can take on a tried and tested test of germinating seeds in a paper towel. This will help you find out if the seeds are good to germinate or if you should think of ordering a whole new packet of required seeds.
But, before we begin with our little experiment, let us find out which seeds survive for how many years. Seeds that have a larger endosperm will be able to sustain the plant embryo for a longer time. This is the reason, we plant the bigger seeds deep into the soil.
Keeping this in mind, corn, onions, leeks, peppers, parsnips, parsley, etc. are seeds that can survive for about 1 to 2 years. Seeds of asparagus, eggplant, carrots, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes as well as plants of the cabbage family do well for about 3 to 4 years.
Other than that, seeds of cucumber, lettuce, spinach as well as lettuce are able to survive for up to 6 years. Once you think your seeds may still be viable, you can go ahead and conduct the test of using moist paper towels for germinating seeds.
How to Sprout Seeds in Paper Towels
It is very simple to sprout seeds in paper towels. When storing seeds, make sure you keep them in a cool and dry place. This will help them last longer and remain viable too. But, before you sow these seeds in your garden, conduct a simple test that will help you know if they are still good.
You need to take 3 to 4 sheets of paper towels, but not those that contains any type of ink or dye. Do not use toilet paper, just a white, plain paper towel. Wet the paper towel with tap water or you can use bottled mineral water. Make sure the paper is damp and moist, not wet at all. Now, place this moist paper towel in a ceramic or plastic plate.
Take a couple of seeds from the seed packet and place them on the paper towel, set over the plate. Fold one end of the paper towel over the seed and place another plate of the same size over the plate.
Once the plates are completely covered, place it near something warm. You can either keep it near a seedling mat, cable box, over a hot water heater, near a heating pad or heater, etc. But make sure the plate does not melt or the seeds do not get cooked. The temperature should be warm enough to help the seeds germinate.
After about 48 hours, keep checking the seeds every 12 hours twice a day. This will help you see if the seeds are germinating and the roots have started to grow. If the paper towel appears dry, moisten it with a couple of drops of water. In most cases, seeds generally germinate within 5 days or at the most after about a week.
When the seeds begin to sprout, it indicates they are good to be sown in the soil. This method will help you know, if your little seeds are good to grow your vegetable. If they don't sprout, try using a few more seeds and experimenting again. If they fail to germinate again, you need to order a new batch of seeds.
This is all you need to do for germinating seeds in a paper towel. You can even try to place the moist paper towels wrapped around the seeds in an air tight, zip lock bag at room temperature for a week. Make sure the paper towel is moist and warm for germination of seeds.
Check the seeds every day after 48 hours for signs of germination. As you can see, germinating seeds on a paper towel is rather easy. Just follow these instructions that are sure to work. And, ensure you won't have to shell out more money buying new seeds, when you already have good seeds.