It is the time of year when everyone is looking at ordering new seeds for the growing year. We should also go through our old packets of all seeds to see what we do and don’t have, before we get carried away with ordering new seeds! I’m quite guilty of this. I get very excited when new seed catalogues come through my door and before you know it I’ve circled enough ‘wants’ to need a 5-acre farm to grow them all.
Many of our old seeds are still useful. You might ditch some, as you didn’t like the taste of the variety, or it didn’t grow well etc. And of course some might be out of date and are no longer viable (how old they can be before they no longer germinate).
To find out the viability of seeds isn’t that easy. You can find lots of websites talking about viability, but not many list that many of the actual seeds a gardener in the UK may grow. I finally managed to find a really useful seed viability chart from Amateur Gardening magazine (January 2012 issue). I also found a printed copy of the Seed Savers Handbook list (Australian) which someone gave me last year.
I noticed some differences between the two, so have compiled an Excel document listing seed name and the number of years each suggests. Most of the differences are minimal, though I do wonder why one says Chicory has a viability range of 5 years, and the other 8. And Cucumber has been given 5-6 years by Amateur Gardening and 4-10 by Seed Savers! Maybe the different climates (UK and Australia) affect the viability of seeds? And I’m curious to know why Amateur garden left out Chard (which is known as Silverbeet in Australia), given how popular it is in the UK? I guess as it is the same family as Beetroot, the viability must be similar.
Anyhow, I thought my little documents might be useful for other people, so am including them here so others can download them if they find it helpful.
Download Vegetable seeds
Download Herb seeds
If you come across any further useful seed viability lists, I would love to know about them!