We’ve all got leftover seeds from the garden season. We worry about germinating last year’s seed. Sometimes, we find old seeds that are 2 or 3 years old, or even more. Will really, really old pumpkin seeds sprout? Let’s find out.
How long will seeds last? This is a question we get all the time. Our sage words of wisdom about saving pumpkin seeds is generally 5-7 years, when stored properly in a cool, dry place. Over time, seed viability gradually declines. While we consider our pumpkins and their seeds to be finer than the finest wines, they are unlike wine. Seed quality and viability does not improve with age.
While it is sound advise to keep pumpkin seeds no more than 5-7 years, an email from Ken Walker of Flushing ,Michigan this winter (2002) piqued our interest.
Ken said “I had found some seeds in a shed, at an old farm house my parents had bought, here in Michigan. The note in the jar said, 1957 pie pumpkin.” He then went on to ask if the seeds would sprout. Ken and I traded a few emails. We knew that wheat seeds had been found in the tombs of ancient Egyptian Pharaohs. When tested, some of that wheat seeds sprouted. So, we reasoned the seeds just might sprout. Storage conditions were not ideal as the jar faced as many as 45 cold winters and hot summers. But they, were in an air tight container.
Over the winter I forgot about our conversation until Ken emailed me again one late spring day. He said “…Well, rack another one up for pumpkin power. I figured there was about 200 seeds or so. I made a special place for them and planted the whole jar. In hopes that something would come up. So far, I have had about 14 come up and every day when I go out, it seems that I find another.”
As you can see by the pictures, Ken’s 1957 Pie Pumpkins have gone on to produce fruit…..all in all pretty amazing.
We are so glad that it was Ken, a pumpkin grower, who discovered the jar of seeds. A non-gardener most likely would have thrown those seeds out. After all “one man’s garbage is another man’s pumpkin!”
We hope this causes all of you to go out to your garage or shed and clean them out. ‘Ya just never know what you’ll find.
As for who got Ken started (and hooked) on pumpkin growing……………