New England Farmer 5(48): 382. June 22, 1827


Gardeners, in general, prefer new seeds to old for their principal crops, as they are believed to come up sooner, and with greater certainty, and to grow more luxuriantly. But peas and beans of a year old, Mr. Marshall observes, are by some preferred to new, as not so likely to run to straw. And cucumbers and melons are best to be several years old, as they shoot less vigorously, and thence become more fruitful. But this principle is carried too far by some gardeners, who say, these seeds cannot be too old, and will allow ten years to be within bounds; three for cucumbers, and four for melons, however, is age enough.

Peas and beans will germinate very well at seven years of age; but the seeds of lettuces and kidney beans, and some others are not to be depended upon after a year or two, and, generally speaking, the smaller seeds are of the least duration.

A correspondent of the New England Farmer, says, vol. ii. page 225, "Do I mistake in supposing that it is generally thought that the newer the seed the better? When the produce is looked for under ground this may be true. Also when it is to be in leaves and vines. But when in things produced upon vines, as peas,beans, cucumbers, &c. the seed should not ordinarily be used till it is two years old. If it were twice that age it would not be the worse, except in planting, a little more seed would be required."

Loudon says "The latest periods at which the seeds most generally in demand may be expected to grow freely are the following:—

Cabbage tribe, four years. Leguminous culinary vegetables, [peas and beans] one year. Esculent roots. Beets, ten years. Turnip, four years. Carrot, one year. Parsnip, one year.— Radish, two years. Salsafy, two years. Skirret, four years. Spinaceous plants. Spinage, four years. White beet, ten years. Orache, one year. Purslane, two years. Herb-patience, one year.— Alliaceous plants. [Onions, leeks, garlic, &c]— two years. Asparaginous plants. Asparagus, four years. Sea-kale, three years. Artichoke, three years. Cardoon, two years. Rampeon, two years. Alisanders, and the thistles, two years. Acetarious plants, [such as are used for salads and condiments] in general two years. Lettuce, three years. Endive, four years. Burnet, six years.— Mustard, four years. Sorrel, seven years. Celery, ten years. Pot-herbs and garnishing plants in general two years; but parsley will grow at six years. Dill and Fennel, five years. Chervil, six years. Marigold, three years. Borage, four years. Sweet herbs, generally two years; but Rue and Rosemary three years; and Hyssop, six years. Plants used in tarts, &c. generally two years; but the Rhubarb only one year; and Gourd-Pompion, &c. ten years. Herbaceous fruits. The cucumber and melon, ten or more years.— Love apple, Capsicum tribe, and egg plant, two years. Annual and biennial flower-seeds, generally two years; but some grow with difficulty the second year; they are seldom kept by seedsmen longer than one year. Perennial flower seeds the same. Tree seeds. Stone two years; and some as the Haw, three; but they are in general of very doubtful success the second year; Elm, Poplar and Willow seeds not at all.