Seed Shelf Life
Name: H. H.
I am looking for a resource/reference on the shelf life of garden seeds
by species. Do you know of one, preferably on-line?
My Google-searches turned up this in the old nature bulletin archives on
your site (nb507.htm, dated 1973): "The Garden Dictionary lists corn,
dandelion, onion, and parsnip seeds as having an average viability of two
years. Beet, carrot, lettuce, squash, turnip, and watermelon seeds remain
viable for an average of 5 or 6 years but under ideal conditions may
exceed 10 years. Cucumber and endive seeds are good for 10 years at least."
Do you know exactly what book this is (publisher, ISBN, whatever)?
This should be helpful:
Anthony Brach, Ph.D
I have the original notes from Nature Bulletin 507, but they do not have anything more specific than
the title. A Google search turns up this site and excerpt:
"Taylor left the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in 1929 and after two years of negotiation began the first
edition of The Garden Dictionary, a work that would become a horticulture standard, having four
editions and spanning thirty years. The first edition was awarded the Gold Medal of the Massachusetts
Horticultural Society in 1936. The second edition appeared under the title Taylor's Garden
Encyclopedia, as did all subsequent editions. Taylor's publisher, Houghton-Mifflin, continues to issue
a series of horticulture books under the name Taylor's Guides."
And this site has a bibliography that includes a reference to Taylor's work:
The Garden Dictionary, (Ed.) Norman Taylor. Halcyon House, New York, 1942
I think it is a pretty good guess, from what I know of the people who wrote our old nature bulletins
(this one was first printed in 1957) that this is the book referred to.
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
I cannot answer your question directly except to say that for a single type of garden seed with a
germination probability, there is much room for variation based upon time of seed collection (and
ripeness), presence/absence of light and/or moisture, and temperature of storage. It would seem to
be a listing of this data could only be a rough guide unless guidelines for storage conditions are
standardized and included with the data and are provided for the seeds in question.
Thanks for using NEWTON!
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Update: June 2012