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How to Tell If Your Garden Seeds Have Gone Bad

Maybe you have leftover seeds from years gone by or maybe you tried to salvage some seeds from produce over the winter. How can you tell if your seeds have gone bad? Use these tried and true tricks to find out!

How to Tell If Your Garden Seeds Have Gone Bad

If you save seeds from year to year, or save and store seeds over the winter months for spring use, you may have to inspect them before planting.

This can ensure that your seeds are still fresh and in good condition, ready to bloom in the months ahead. But how can you tell if your garden seeds have gone bad?

Luckily, there are some tell-tale signs to check for so you can be sure you only plant the good ones. Look below at how to tell if your garden seeds have gone bad, so you can insure a healthy garden in the growing season to come!

How to Tell If Your Garden Seeds Have Gone Bad

1. Observe the color.

One of the first visual clues is the color of the seed. Most seeds will have color variations of white, yellow, even black. However you should confirm that the seed is the correct color for its type. Look for seeds that have turned either speckled black (which could indicate mold) or green which could indicate some type of mold or decay as well.

2. Smell them.

Most seeds will have a woodsy or earthy scent. That is normal. But just like you can smell rot on fruit or vegetables, you can smell it on seeds as well. Smell the seeds to make sure they don’t stink or smell like mold or mildew. If they do smell, it’s probably best to toss them.

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3. Check for signs of mold.

You may notice mold when checking the colors or smells, as mentioned above. However, mold can also take a textural form as well. You may notice raised bumps, a furry coating, tiny hairs, or raised speckles. These are all signs of mold and can indicate that the seeds have gone bad.

4. Check for signs of excessive drying.

While discoloration and mold can be an indication of the seeds experiencing moisture, there are also signs to look for that could show the seeds have dried out beyond use. This can happen if the seeds are left in an area that is too hot or packaged and stored incorrectly. Look for brittle shells, slivering, or even a withered appearance to the shells.

5. Look for splits, holes, or cracks.

There are numerous reasons why splits, holes, and cracks can happen to seeds, but whatever the reason you shouldn’t try to use a seed that has these characteristics. While some seeds need to be nicked prior to planting, being stored all season with nicks and cracks can cause the inside to dry out or rot.

6. Do the water test.

Take your seeds and put them in a container of water. Let them sit for about 15 minutes. If the seeds sink, they are most likely still viable. If they float, they probably will not sprout.

This planting season, give a once over to your seeds. By looking for any of the traits above you can remove the seeds which are most likely damaged and won’t grow. This saves you time and frustration in the long run, and can help you grow a more productive garden.

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Remember, the best medicine is prevention! Prevent your seeds from going bad by storing them properly.

When storing seeds, a cool and dry space is always best. Keep them in an air tight container, such as a baby food jar or mason jar, and mark all containers clearly so you know what the contents are. You may wish to layer seeds over paper towels so any moisture left in them can dry out.

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