It’s in our shed, perhaps our darkest gardening secret, a massive collection of pre-loved, left over, surplus to requirement seeds. Blame frugality or whatever but I have real trouble throwing out old seeds even if they are past their use-by date. That is until a few weeks ago. The revelation came when I was listening to one of Gayla Trail’s Whatcha Growing podcasts. Gayla was confessing she had also shared the same tendency, but with one clear explanation, she was able to change her dark habit and I am also a changed gardener.
What changed? A plant scientist pointed out to her that just because a seed could germinate didn’t mean it would make a healthy plant. Indeed old seed will most likely produce dodgy or low viability plants, a state which seems to be obvious to any pest or passing disease.
So we began a major clean out (see results above). Maybe I haven’t changed completely because we didn’t chuck the seeds in the bin. Instead we decided to use them as a green manure in the area where our chooks have been undertaking soil renovation.
Believe me this part of the yard was completely covered in grass before we let the chooks in. This should also be a warning to anyone who thinks chickens look good roaming around the garden unsupervised – have you seen what strong digging claws they have? The chooks are now off rota-tilling another section of garden, where the polyhouse normally lives.
Having spread the seed on the ground and raked it in, we just waited for the local Crested pigeons to come along and have a feed. Oh, what a surprise! the Crested Pigeons have arrived.
Despite regular visits the pigeons haven’t eaten all the seed yet. Indeed with several bouts of rain in the past weeks what’s left of the seed is actually sprouting.
And what was the oldest seed we had kept? Several packets of herb seeds from 1997 – now that’s bad.