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Grow with KARE: Planting old seeds

Laura and Bobby dish on which seeds last the longest, and what you should do about planting them - even if they're a few years old.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — I’m all about being frugal, and not spending a bunch of money on new seeds sounds like a good idea to me... especially when you might have a big stash of old packets on hand from last year, or even a few years ago.

You actually can plant old seeds, but here’s a couple of things to remember when doing so.

The seeds from veggies and flowers can last anywhere to two, four or six years -  even longer if they are stored properly. Keeping them in your refrigerator produce drawer or in another cool, dark place in your home will help seeds last longer.

But regardless of where you dropped them after last season, many will sprout again and provide a harvest this year.

Corn and pepper seeds have a shorter shelf life of one to two years. Beans, peas, tomatoes and carrots last quite a bit longer, up to four or five years. Believe it or not, cucumber and lettuce will sprout even a couple years longer than that. 

Because not every seed in the packet will germinate, double up or even put three seeds to each hole. You can always thin the plantings out later when tiny plants do come up.

One cool idea I saw online - if you don’t want to devote time or space to starting them indoors, scatter all the leftover seeds in one area of your garden and see what comes up.

Regardless... plant them and see what happens. What do you have to lose?


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