Advice on the Seed Zoo

Pulsegleaner

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Hi all,

Was trolling around the forum, I noticed a lot of talk about Richter's seed zoo (including a reference to me, which is what started the search) Since it sounds like there are some people who may be ordering from them, I thought I should present a little caution, since they are rather pricey.

When you go through their list, keep in mind that the Seed Zoo DOESN'T regenerate it's seed. What you are seeing is the ORIGINAL seed Joe Simcox gave them which has been stored. This means that, once something is gone, it's gone for good.

More importantly (in this case) it means that, the farther down the list you go, the OLDER the seed. And by old, I mean OLD. Once you get down to the Cicoria a Foglia Frastagliate, you are basically in seed that has been there since I found the site, and I've been going for over a decade. Even factoring in for the fact I think (based on the aluminum lined seed packets they use) they keep their seed in cold storage, that puts a LOT of the seed WAY past what is generally considered optimum storage time.

I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has bought recently from the things at the bottom of the list on how the viability actually is. I have (over the last few years) bought a fair amount of the the Volta White Maize and the Avakli cowpeas*, but since both we more or less totally decimated each year by critters, I cannot comment on their viability.

(So many of the latter, in fact, I'm a little surprised they still HAVE any (given the generally low amount of seed they usually have for any variety).

Anyway that's all I had to say. Over to you guys.
 

ducks4you

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It is REALLY food for thought. I haven't been much of a seed saver, But I saved seeds from a Calla Lily that I grew in 2017, store bought, and I just put them out to see if any would sprout. Don't need to flower, just grow for me. I have noticed that the more $money I spend on seeds, the more viable that they are, therefore I figure that they are new seed and the cheaper seeds are repackaged from the previous year's stock that didn't sell. I scavanged Brussels Sprout seeds. When you are Supposed to plant them, for a Fall crop instead of a Spring crop, you cannot find them, so I buy in the Spring and hoard them. Not the best seed starter. I started them a month ago, but got busy and the seedlings dried out. STILL, it seems like every seed has grown. I have two 36 cells going right now. I am about to transplant them to bigger cells and keep them well watered. I have a big spot for them which I have kept covered in plastic to try to kill of the weeds for the last 2 months. I want the seedlings to be 5 inches tall before transplanting, if possible.
A few years back I started 25 year old tomato seeds. HAD I babied them I would have been able to get some fruit and save THAT fresh. Isn't that the idea?
 

Bluejay77

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@Pulsegleaner, What do you mean by optimum storage time. If you mean storage time that you see on seed viability charts then freezer stored seed extends that many, many years down the road. I don't remember if I have ordered any seed from Richters but last autumn I obtained bean seed from a fellow in Michigan who had a Robert Lobitz variety of bean that I wanted. It had been stored in just coin envelopes since 2001. Just for the heck of it I took about 10 of the smallest seeds that I probably wouln't have planted anyway and did a germination test on them between damp paper towels. 100% germination in four days.

Seed Dreams from Santa Cruz, California who bills themselves as a seed saving project not a seed company does the same thing. Right now of all the beans listed on their website the oldest one is 1997.
 

Pulsegleaner

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@Bluejay77 That may be the case. All I am saying is that I HAVE seen a decline in germination from Seed Zoo seeds and it seems worse the farther down their list I go (and therefore older the seed gets) Mottled grey was about 50%. Bantu was about 25%. Hashuli I think only had one germinate out of a pack of ten. Freezers may extend the longevity of the seed, but it looks like Richter's is pushing the envelope.
 

hoodat

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Interesting bean story is the Apache beans that were found in a desert cave stored in jars. They were estimated to be over 100 years old but they germinated almost 100% when planted. They are now sold under the name of rattlesnake beans because of the snake like markings on the pods. I grew some in Oklahoma and they are very versatile. You can eat them as green beans or allow them to mature and form dry beans that are quite tasty.
They are pole beans BTW and you will need a large trellis.
 
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