That’s not old seed – it’s elderseed!

Ken Dunn from the Resource Center stopped by the Op Shop this past week with a bounteous gift that transformed a conversation we were having about some seeds in the seed exchange collection. What Ken brought was a bunch of seeds that have a few years under their belts, especially a whole lot of Burpee’s Fordhook zucchini.

Burpee's Fordhook zucchini for days

This changed a conversation we had been having about a few tomato seed packets we had in the mix that were more than a year or two old. Thanks to Ken’s generous gift, they went from an anomaly to a few of the many seeds in our newly launched elderseed exchange program.

Fordhook zucchini seeds, our featured elderseed

Checking the vitality of seeds you’ve had for a few years is pretty easy to do, and what could be more in keeping with the principals of the Op Shop IV’s urban agriculture ethic than to seek out seed that would otherwise be cast aside and let it flourish, perhaps so that its own seed might contribute to the exchange in the future?

Ken laid out the basics of how to test the seed, and we visited a University of Illinois Extension service page to make sure you had a place to check out details. (It’s the first paragraph under “Planning Tips” at the bottom of the page.)

Basically, you moisten (not soak) a paper towel and line up 10 seeds from the packet you are testing on the towel. Fold the towel in half and keep it in a warm place (like on top of your fridge).

The Fordhook zucchini seeds, ready for testing

Whatever sprouts after a couple of weeks (keep the towel moist with a spray bottle the whole time) is what will grow. Depending on how many sprout, you have a rough percentage of how many of the seeds you have that will germinate.

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