From Across the Field – Starting to Feel a Bit Like Spring

Temperatures are beginning to warm and it is beginning to feel like spring outside. I have to keep reminding myself that February still remains ahead, with the potential for cooler weather and perhaps some additional snow.

For most people spring seems to be their favorite season, as thing green up and begin to grow. Having grown up in the southern part of the spring meant mud, and for that reason alone I always hope for a “short spring,” where the transition from frozen ground to dry ground is quick and rapid.

Even though spring is still weeks away there are some things that can be done in preparation for this year’s landscape and garden. If you saved seeds from the last growing season and wonder if they will germinate when planted this spring, you can discover the average rate of germination before the planting season begins. It’s easy to check vegetable and flower seed viability, and it can save you time later when the gardening season begins.

The following home germination test is a simple way. find out whether a variety of seed will germinate and grow: Dampen a paper towel and place 10 seeds an even distance apart. Roll up the towel and place in a plastic bag. Leave the damp, rolled towel in a warm area or a window for two to five days, lighting doesn’t matter. After the two-to-five days, check to see how many of the seeds have germinated. The percentage of seed that germinated in the towel will be similar the amount that germinates in the garden.

Some seed types last longer than others. Typically seed from sweet corn, parsnips, and spinach generally will only remain viable for only a year. On the other hand, beans, carrots, cole crops, collards, squashes, tomatoes and turnips are good for at least three years, when properly stored.

Seed is best stored through the winter at 50 degrees with 50 percent humidity. Store unused seed packets in a sealed jar with a desiccant or powdered milk at the bottom to absorb moisture. Then store the sealed jar in a cool room, cellar, or refrigerator over the winter.

As we Extension professionals are currently wrapping up our annual conference on campus, I’ll conclude this week’s column with a quote from Ben Franklin, who said “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Have a great week.

Upcoming Events
Feb. 1st RSVP’s due for NW Ohio Crops Day
Feb. 9th NW Ohio Crops Day

Garth Ruff,
Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator
OSU Henry County Extension

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