A type of ancient wheat seed called Farro (AKA Emmer) was found in ancient Egypt in the late 1800’s, and after being sealed-off for hundreds of years, the seeds sprouted just fine. “Fifteen stems . . . sprung from a single seed,” T.E. Thorpe said in an 1857 issue of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine article after testing centuries-old grain. It just goes to show how tenacious seeds are when given the right circumstances for storage: cool, dry, and dark—the elements needed to long seed storage.
All of the seeds at True Leaf Market have been put through a drying process that promotes longevity, including grains , flower seeds , herb seeds , and vegetable seeds alike. Albeit, there are several factors when storing and handling seed that can lead to germination decline. Keep in mind that the drying process does not make the seed immortal, but it does slow down the decline in germination substantially. If you’re buying high-germ seeds, storing them right, and handling them with care, they should last for years to come. A great example of seed longevity is the ancient grain uncovered in Egypt nearly two centuries ago.
If what you mean by “go bad” is that the seed will spoil, then no, it does not go bad. If a seed has not been properly dried, then yes, the germination rates will rapidly decline. Seeds that have not been dried are called crop year seeds. When a plant goes to seed, Mother Nature fully intends for that seed to sprout the next season; everything needed for the seed to sprout and develop is present in its little package—including a little moisture. This will cause diminishing results in germination. HOWEVER, when dried, seeds can stand the test of time!
The most important thing to consider when storing your seeds is the humidity levels in your area of the country. Granted, the west lends itself to the storage of seed because of low levels of humidity, making seed storage ideal for us here in Salt Lake City. So, if you are at lower elevations where high humidity is more common, a few extra steps may be required to cultivate a dry place for your seeds. The quickest and easiest solution is to double-seal your seeds in two plastic baggies and place in the freezer—if you have bulk seeds a box freezer may be required. If you have a cellar or basement, it may be useful to look into ways to dehumidify that specific area. Understanding humidity control, allows you to create the environment that these seeds are designed to hibernate in for years to come.
The term “bad seed” gets thrown around a lot, leading to much misunderstanding as we’ve pointed out. In this case “bad seed” can refer to invasive species of plants that can harm and/or disrupt the ecosystem to which they are not native. A good example of this is purple loosestrife. Introduced to the United States in the 1800’s for decorative and medicinal uses, it has had a substantial impact since then becoming a dominant plant in wetlands. So seeds can be “bad” when referring to their effect on an ecosystem—a very different meaning from “going bad” in terms of spoiling. Nevertheless, the distinction is worth noting and considering when assessing the status of your seeds.
Make the first germination check after two or three days. Keep checking at regular intervals to note the rate of seed germination. Once a day is not too often after germination begins. Most viable seeds will germinate within two to three weeks, and some will sprout much sooner. For example, seeds of the cabbage family will often sprout in a few days while carrot seeds can take up to three weeks.
Seeds with germination rates of 30% or lower should probably be discarded. Not only will the germination rate be low, but even the seeds that do manage to sprout will probably be less vigorous and more prone to pests and diseases.
It’s not unusual for gardeners to find themselves with half-used and undated packets of favorite flower and vegetable varieties. If the seeds have been stored properly in a cool, dry place or airtight container, and properly treated with silica gel or some other desiccant if humidity is a problem, it’s a good chance that performing a simple seed germination test will give you an accurate assessment of your seeds’ viability.
Ten seeds are sufficient to accurately test for germination, although you can use more if you have them. Evenly space the seeds on the paper towel keeping them about two inches from the edges. Carefully roll or fold them up in the towel so they are encased in a long, narrow strip of wet paper and slip the whole thing into a plastic bag. Seal and mark it carefully, especially if more than one kind of seed or variety is being tested at the same time.
Adams County Master Gardener
Although still a bit early, many gardeners are itching to begin this year’s growing season. Being able to safely plant seeds outdoors is still some time away, but it’s not too early to assess seeds you have left over from past seasons and order in new supplies if necessary.
Viability is the seed’s capability to grow and develop. One way to test a seed’s viability, and thus avoid wasting time and garden space if the seeds prove to be no good, is to run a germination test. This involves little more than the seeds, some absorbent paper towels, water, a spray bottle, a plastic zip bag and someplace warm.
If you opt for the severance route, please don’t use a template (new or old). I can’t tell you how many bad, outdated, inappropriate templates I have seen. An experienced HR consultant can help you. If there are special circumstances, nuances or a high-risk issue, HR will know when to pull in legal counsel. If you don’t have an employment attorney (not your corporate counsel), you should consider engaging one.
Now the fun part: Who gets to deliver the message? Let HR handle it! Seriously, that’s what we are paid for. All terminations should be witnessed by another manager, preferably the employee’s supervisor or hiring manager. The message should be direct and to the point. Write up talking points and rehearse; ad libbing can get you into trouble. Nothing you can say or do will change the fact they lost their job and their livelihood. Remain professional, thank them for their service and wish them the very best in their future endeavors.
Enter HR. Many of my clients ask when and how to fire someone — is it even ok? I like to get right to the core of the matter: What is the company’s intent? I want to know the outcome my client is looking for: Do you want to save the employee or let him/her go? Once I know the direction, I can help the client work toward getting there.
Other important factors to consider:
Allow me to bring you into a typical situation: An employee is not working at an expected level or is just not a good fit. You have several conversations with the employee, trying to make things work. It’s been a few months, and it’s not getting better — in fact, you think it’s getting worse. But you feel conflicted, because it’s a key position and the person is working on a project that needs to be completed. You have put the decision off for so long now, that the employee is dealing with a death in the family, a pregnancy, or a health issue. Now we really have a problem! To make it worse, through all the time, effort and energy involved in trying to coach and counsel this employee, no one bothered to document the conversations or even recap them in a simple e-mail to the employee. Now what?
My recent posts covered how to make the best hiring decisions (Combatting Employee Turnover Before You Hire and The Importance of Background Checks). But what happens when you do all the right things, and you still wind up with a bad apple?
I am not a big fan of putting someone on a performance-improvement plan (PIP) just for documentation purposes. However, if you see potential value in the employee, and you think a well-written, milestone-driven, achievable PIP may work, then go for it. But if you are putting someone on a 90-day probation just so you can fire the guy when it’s over, why bother?