Dead Seed & Making New Plans
I’ve had really good luck with extremely old seed. I’ve successfully germinated tomato seed that’s 20 years old in the past. I might get only one or two out of fifty, but that’s sometimes all you need to get a stock going.
Invariably though, some of it just won’t survive. A lot of that has to do with how the seed was stored before it came to me, or sometimes how it was saved. Sometimes seed just dies because it doesn’t last forever. Seed needs to be kept cool, and dry but not too dry. Too damp will rot it, too dry will kill it.
I’m growing a few varieties this year where the seed is about 15 years old. These are varieties from my now deceased friends, Dan & Val McMurray. I’ve written about them on the past on this blog, and those in the tomato world will know their names because they were giants in seed saving and sharing.
The varieties from a part of their old collection I decided on this year were Orange Tree, Peasant, Rumba Ozarowska, and Siniy. Unfortunately only 50% of that seed survived; ‘Peasant’ and ‘Siniy’ both look to be dead, which is extremely unfortunate because I can’t seem to find another source for these seeds. Fortunately ‘Orange Tree’ and ‘Rubma Ozarwska’ both gave me some sprouts – I had germination rates of about 50% on both. After the seeds I planted of ‘Siniy’ and ‘Peasant’ didn’t do anything, I decided to try to pre-sprout them in a damp paper towel. No success there either – all the seed seems hopelessly dead.
So, it’s not too late to pivot. I may have lost these two (although I will try to find somebody somewhere out there that may have seed), but I have an absolute abundance of varieties of theirs still waiting to be grown. I have two spots now open for new varieties, and I have decided on ‘Norderas Busk’, ‘Dwarf Wild Fred’, or ‘Victorian Dwarf’. I’m not sure which two of these three I’ll go with. Likely I’ll see how many I have of each seed, and the one with the most seed I’ll leave until next year.