DEAR NEW FARM:
Does the use of silica gel in lettuce seed storage negatively
impact germination? How best to store lettuce seed? How best
to test seed germination? I use seed from commercial houses
like Seminis and store it in a refrigerator in air-tight bottles
containing silica gel; 100 grams of seed would be used over
a four-month period. Three problems experienced over this
period have been: 1) declining germination from 90 percent
to about 30 percent; 2) later start-up of germination; 3)
Our head gardener Eileen Weinsteiger, who has been tending
our Children’s and Demonstration Gardens for 33 years,
I have a friend who collects and saves lettuce seed. All
he does is collect the tops of the plants before the seed
shatters in the garden on a dry day. He places the stalks
in a bucket and allows them to dry for two to three weeks.
He then runs the seed through a corn grinder; this does
not damage the seed and it helps to clean it. He then places
the seed on a screen to minimize the dirt and debris. After
this process, he places the seed in brown envelopes. The
envelopes are kept in his cool cellar (60°F). He never
used silica and says his saved seed exhibits good germination
for approximately three years.
us with comments, suggestions and questions.