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New to growing your own tomatoes? This is the forum to learn the successful techniques used by seasoned tomato growers. Questions are welcome, too.

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Old March 16, 2007   #1
maryinoregon
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Default starting old seeds question

I haven't been able to get here very often. Missed you guys.

Craig, I'm trying to start some old seeds from one of your gardenweb seed offers. I put them in some seed starting medium beginning of February after soaking for several days. Not one has popped up yet, much to my dismay. I've done fairly well with your old seeds as you know. I'm not really sure what I can do now. They need to get up and running soon if they are to stand a chance here. They have been on a heat mat, watered when necessary and there are lights overhead. The lights are there because flats of newer seeds are nearby and have already sprouted. I have a new greenhouse set-up, and we have been fortunate to have more sun recently. Have been thinking I would put the old seeds out there and see what happens. It can get mighty toasty in there on a sunny day.

Do you have any ideas? I was thinking it might be time to make some compost tea, or use dilute fert of some sort on them.

By the way, this is in response to your post asking newbies to ask a question or two. Not exactly a newbie, but here I am anyway. And anyone is certainly invited to respond if you have an idea or three.

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Old March 16, 2007   #2
maryinoregon
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Default old seeds

Blast it all. Sorry I put this in the wrong place. Do I need to move it? Heck, I don't know how to do that anyway.

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Old March 16, 2007   #3
carolyn137
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Mary, you can't move it but I could but with this new system we have I can see where I can move posts but not threads.

So unless someone comes along and wants to move it to the Seed Starting Forum, lets leave it here for now.

You directed your questions to Craig. If you read in the Conversations Forum you'll see that his father died this past week following a stroke and he and his wife are currently in RI and I doubt he has time to answer you, so I'll try since I also offered many old seeds, as well you know and I think you were a participant in some of my seed offers of old seeds as well.

Those seeds of Craig must be quite old now since he hasn't made such an offer in several years.

What did you soak the seeds in and how old are the seeds, for he usually writes the seed age on the pack?

I know for some old seeds I've had to wait over two months and some never did germinate.

I usually keep the seed starting mix moist with the same solution I used to soak the seeds. Have you been doing that? And if any of them are heart shaped varieties, several of us have noticed that seed viability for them is not as great as with non-hearts.
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Old March 16, 2007   #4
Ruth_10
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Quote:
I know for some old seeds I've had to wait over two months and some never did germinate.:sad:
Two months! Wow, very interesting. I think I must have missed the time aspect in the old seed starting threads. I am curious as to what, physiologically or mechanically, is taking two months to happen. It can't be just dryness of the seed. After a certain period--months or a year--all seeds not kept over a dessicant will have come into equilibrium with the ambient moisture, i.e. they should all be the same whether a year old or ten years old, yes? Or is it that the seed coat becomes less permeable with time? Is the nitrate soak (I forget what actually it is) dissolving something off the seed coat or does it stimulate an enzyme somewhere inside the seed?

Pardon me for thinking out loud here. It's the end of a long, long week. I need some tomato seeding therapy.
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Old March 16, 2007   #5
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Craig did a small, informal offer of "Branscomb" seeds to a few on GW in spring '06 (perhaps late '05). Maybe that's what Mary is working with.

If so, they were pretty old seeds, sent to Craig in '90 by Don Branscomb. I can't find the original offer, but here's a thread alluding to it--
http://web.archive.org/web/200604270...484125368.html

and some discussion here--
http://www.tomatoville.com/search.php?searchid=5098
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Old March 16, 2007   #6
maryinoregon
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Default Thanks Suze!

Well shut my mouth. I don't save these threads. I'm too much of a packrat about some things and have to slap myself sometimes.

Thanks for providing this info.

Did not have any luck with these last year. Any suggestions welcome.

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Old March 16, 2007   #7
maryinoregon
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Default Hi Carolyn!

Thanks for stepping into the breach Carolyn. I missed the news about Craig's dad. I'm sorry for his loss.

Seeds from early to mid-90s I'm pretty sure. I shot my wad and planted everything and put the envelopes through the shredder. Yes, I'm giving myself a slap for that trick. They were all from the USDA as far as I know and he did not supply any info about them. Maybe you or others have grown these successfully and can tell me about them.

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I soaked one for three days in water, one in water with a tiny amount of milk, (just for the heck of it), one in weak tea. I think I might have tried some extra seeds in a weak Miracle Grow solution. Talk about a failing effort.

I have kept the seed starting medium moist, but not soggy. Have not tried watering with any other solution. Maybe I should try.

The good news is I have lots of other seeds produced in the last few years that started nicely, so I'll probably be begging people to take seedlings again, but I love growing the mystery seeds. Thanks for any advice.

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Old March 21, 2007   #8
garnetmoth
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I have had lots of luck with random seeds germinating in my vermicompost bin- im going to try to start some old eggplant seeds and my one no-show tomato that I still have seeds for in Pro Mix and Vermicompost mixed.
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Old July 11, 2007   #9
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All,

I planted a lot of old seeds this year, although not as old the ones Mary planted. I used up a some packets I had from five to seven years ago, mostly from Seed Savers Exchange and Tomato Growers Supply Company. I just planted them in seedling trains in potting medium as I usually do, and in fact kept them outside because I didn't get them planted until May (I was late this year because I was traveling). I planted 10 to 12 seeds in each cell. I was surprised to find that at least one seed of every variety germinated, even if some did so rather slowly.

There were distinct differences among the varieties in terms of germination rate. Only one out of 12 seeds of Sasha’s Altai germinated, and the seedling died soon. On the other hand, more than half of the Prudens Purple germinated; ditto for Purple Calabash. Brandywine OTV did not germinate well (two out of 12, although they are doing well now), and neither did Red Brandywine. Lime Green Salad did better, as did Lillian’s Yellow Heirloom. All in all, however, I was surprised at how well they did for seeds that had been stored at room temperature for at least five years.

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Old July 11, 2007   #10
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Interesting, Jonathan. I've found that tomatoes retain pretty good germination abilities for up to 10-11 years, even if stored with no special temp or moisture considerations. I keep my saved seed in snap top plastic or screw cap glass vials in my office - this year I had 60-90% germination on seed saved from 2006. Next year I am going to do a sizeable planting of seed I saved in 1989-91 just to see what I can get to germinate.
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Old July 11, 2007   #11
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I'll be interested to hear the results, Craig.
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Old July 13, 2007   #12
Jonathan_E
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Craig,

The people at Kew Gardens in the UK have germinated quite a few seeds that were 200 years old. Here's the story: http://www.kew.org/press/archive_seeds.html .

I have also read in the past that someone germinated an olive seed that was 2,000 years old, but I can't find the story again.

Best,

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Old July 13, 2007   #13
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I have also read in the past that someone germinated an olive seed that was 2,000 years old, but I can't find the story again.

*****

I haven't heard about the olive seed but I have read about the date palm and the lotus in China.

But one can't really compare tomato seeds with seeds such as olive and lotus and date palm since their endosperm and coat structure is different than tomato seeds.

The ***documented*** record for waking up old seeds is 50 yo seed. That occurred when the precursor to the USDA station in Cheyenne WY moved to Ames, IA and all the stock that had been stored just in file cabinets in Cheyenne were tested for viability.

My own personal best was waking up 22 yo tomato seed. But so much depends on the conditions under which older seeds are stored.
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Old August 12, 2007   #14
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Default starting old seeds

maryinpnw,

A couple of years ago I posted on GW's tomato forum regarding Gibberellic Acid-3 (GA-3). Apparently some believe it can wake up old seeds. When I posted on GW I do remember Carolyn and someone else mentioning GA-3 could possibly be harmful to the seed it's used on.

As a last resort I guess you could give it a try. I realize your posts were from March so it would be for next year, obviously. I've never tried GA-3 so I do not have first-hand knowledge of how effective it is. Seedman.com sells GA-3 kits for $17.95 ($15.95 if you agree to share your results with them to post on their website). The only thing I've bought from them in the past were tobacco seeds that never germinated, but it could have been something I did wrong.

Good luck with your old seeds, Jeff
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Old August 12, 2007   #15
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When I posted on GW I do remember Carolyn and someone else mentioning GA-3 could possibly be harmful to the seed it's used on.


*****

Jeff, no it's not harmful to the tomato seeds but what you end up getting are hormone induced tall lanky stupid looking seedlings.

That's why I and others tried varying the concentration of GA with something like potassium nitrate, also known to sometimes help wake up old seed.

But adding the Knitrate made no difference and I can't suggest using GA on tomato seed b'c it did no
better than a good water soak in waking up old seeds and when the seeds were treated, those that did appear were lanky.

having tried a lot of stuff I still think that a good o'n soak with a pinch of blue stuff works best.

And it makes a difference if you have seeds with NO germination rather than trying to up the germination rate. If the latter it's just easier to double/triple sow seeds IMO.
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