I have thousands of seeds that I have saved from past harvests, purchases and gifts. Each year before planting season starts I take out a portion of them (usually the oldest) and I test their viability. There is no point in keeping seeds frozen for future use if they won't germinate when you need them.
This year, as it happened, just before the day I was going to start my germination tests I found a dried ear of corn laying close to the compost bin. It must have still been on the stock and was missed when we cleaned them up last year. I picked it up and and was going to toss it into the bin when I decided to just shuck it and see what it looked like inside. I guess being nosey and curious serve a purpose at times. I did just that and found a cob chock full of vibrant yellow kernels completely dry.
Well I couldn't just throw it away at that point. Could I? I took it inside to pick the kernels off and make them part of my germination test. Well nature sure knew what she was doing when it came to preserving corn becuase the germination test results of thar cob where as good as the ones that I had plucked off at the end of last season and then froze them for future use.
For the germination testing I used a cheap little seed sprouter I found at one of my favorite little country stores. It is a 3 level sprouter but I found that using two levels at a time works the best for some reason. I put a variety of beans on the bottom tray and the two different corns, one being the found kernels the other being the kept kernels.
I then put water in the top tray and it runs down through the bottom two trays but very slowly as to allow the water to rise just enough to get all the seeds nicely covered in water. The water then drains all the way to the bottome tray. I usually do this process twice a day until they are large enough to plant or determine they will not germinate. If the seeds are not going to germinate you will find they get a bit of a slimy coat to them and then they get mushy.
Depending of what type of seed it is they can start to get little sprout tales in as soon as one day. Other types can take serveral days to sprout. You will also find that some seeds of like will sprout at different times. You can have a tray of corn, all the same date and kind, some will start to sprout after 1 day and others will take 3 days just to start.
I came about using this method thinking if I could sprout beans to eat then I could sprout them to plant too. It is also a great way to give them a little head start without needing to use little pods or potting soil and such. Also they have a greater chance of surviving the pill bugs (sow bugs or rolly pollys depending on where you are from). All in all it just works great for us. I have only used this method on corn and beans to this point but think I will give it a try on maybe okra and squash too. I will keep you informed as to what happens when I give those a try.
A variety of beans - butter beans, Kentucky pole beans, yard long beans
The corn with the dark tips is from the "found" cob.
After 3 days
Corn after 5 days. Almost every one germinated.
None of the butter beans sprouted they all turned to mush.
The corn is almost ready to plant. Another day or two and it won't fit in the sprouter.
Look at the great roots on those corn and the nice green sprouts. No more lids going on these spouts. They are ready to plant now but I will wait another day or two just to give them a little more shelter time.
The beans took quite a bit longer than the corn and I had to pick out the mushy ones that didn't sprout. All the ones that sprouted did great though.
Time to get that corn in the ground before I have stalks growing in the kitchen.
Ronnie volunteers to plant the corn and beans in his square foot garden.
This is the corn today in the square foot garden. Some squares have 4 corn and some have two corn and two beans
I will keep you posted with the progress.
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