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It's not your fault if the seeds don't germinate

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From late February onwards it is seed sowing time. Sometimes, we sow seeds in the greenhouse or veg plot, and nothing happens, disappointing. We blame it on the weather, mice, but it maybe the seed's fault. Some seeds are easier to germinate than other and this is recognised and reflected in the EU regulations governing seeds which sets minimum standards of germination for commercially sold seeds.

So for Carrot seed, which are one of the most capricious when it comes to germination, the EU regs specify a minimum germination of 65%, and the same for Leeks, but for cucumber and runner beans it is 80%. Maybe I am slow, but I had assumed that all seeds were near to 100% good to germinate, as sold, clearly not.

"Which " that great champion of consumers surveyed this  problem and found, back on 2007, some bad offenders amongst our well known seed retailer, with some as little as 2% viable seed which went on to germinate. "Which" revisited the issue 2 years later still many seed companies were still not reaching minimum standards. Hopefully seed retailers have improved further since that bad publicity.

Rather surprisingly there are no minimum standards for flower seeds at all.

Steps you can take include storing seeds and packets in an air tight container, with the actual seeds in foil will help and keep out of sunlight. I do use seeds well after the use by date on the packet but not carrot seed which I buy fresh each year.  I sow early in the season with the older seed and if it doesn't germinate, there is plenty of time to buy new seed and use the same compost. Seeds which are already packed in foil inside the paper packet would seem a better idea.

And if  the seeds do not  germinate, complain, it may well not be your fault at all.


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  1. Jane Stevens

    My courgette seeds have failed but my aubergines are doing well. Reading this has encouraged me. Off to buy another packet of seeds!

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