Old seeds


Oct 23, 2020
Northern Ontario, Canada
My Coop
My Coop
Probably a dumb question:
I just went through all my (mostly) vegetable seeds and set aside anything that was older than 3 years. Can I jus mix them up and give them to the chickens, you know, next year when I finally get them. 😂
I just hate seeing the seeds go to waste and have the space to stash the bag away. Some of those seeds are 10 years old, so what’s another 6 months?

Or does anyone have another use for old seeds?

On a positive note, my seeds are officially ordered for next year!
Unless you have like 10 pounds of seeds, I would just sprinkle them out for the birds to have now. Wild birds do need to eat, and seeds would not be considered going to waste.
I say this, because I :love my wild birds eating seeds at my feeder. I do feed year-round BTW.
Another possibility/use would be to spread them in a vacant area, in springtime, and let seeds grow wild as fodder. You would be surprised how many of those seeds will still sprout.
WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and:welcome
You can always do a germination test. Get a paper towel wet and wring most of the water out of it. Wrap ten seeds in that and put it in a zip-loc type bag, but leave it unzipped. Then put that in a warm spot, Since warm air rises the top of a refrigerator or a high bookshelf can work. Come back in a week and see how many seeds sprouted. That gives you your germination rate. With ten seeds that's easy to calculate. That will tell you if they are worth planting or not. As always there are details and exceptions so I'll include this link.

How to Test Germination (southernexposure.com)

I never eat seeds I buy as seeds. Sometimes they treat them with chemicals to protect against diseases or bugs. I would not feel comfortable feeding them to my chickens because of that.
RidgeRunner is right that they may be treated and probably shouldn’t be used for feed. Some depending on the vegetable may be perfectly fine to plant Depending on the type. I’ve gotten good crops out of 4 year old tomatoes, cucumbers, cowpeas, and lima’s. Here’s a link to a article about how long they’ll last and most are pretty conservative as I’ve also sprouted 3 years old onions before. https://www.gardeningchannel.com/seed-life-chart-how-long-will-seeds-last/
I planted 5+ year old seeds last year for my entire garden. We have about 30 packs of green beans in the freezer off just 8 plants.

My corn seeds were over 10 years old and I only had about 10 of 50 that did not sprout.

Plant them and if there are ones that don't grow put fresh seeds in those spots.

Enjoy your gardening.
I planted SAVED seeds from a mesclun lettuce mix that was probably at least 7 years old. It has all sprouted. Also slightly more recent saved seed (but still older than 3 years, I think) from bok choy, and various ruffled lettuces that have all sprouted.

I definitely agree with above posters that recommend germination test or planting some of those seeds just to see what happens. Glad you have your seeds ordered too - but some companies may run out of seed again so I would hold on to that old seed just in case they are unable to fill your complete orders.
Thanks for the replies! I did plant some of the old seeds last year, and most of them did not come up. Yes, I could (and did) replant, but in our very short growing season (95 days) that can equal no harvest. And that’s what happened with my beans. Out of 40+ plants, we collected a handful of yellow beans and zero green beans.

I’ll do a seed test on things like lettuce and carrots before throwing them to the wild birds, but I really don’t want to waste almost two weeks again next year.
I kept some hand picked bean seeds from my neighor in the freezer for about 10 years and they actually sprouted better than brand new seeds from Lowes this past Spring. If you think you are going to save your seeds, put them in the freezer. Just don't thaw them out real fast.

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