Skip to content

Fava beans test OK

Broad bean germination test

It’s that time of year again when obsession with seedlings somehow takes hold for a short while. I wonder if I’ll ever get over it, that almost overpowering early spring feeling that you don’t want to waste even a SINGLE seedling. Here, I germination tested a few Witkiem fava beans (broad beans) from an overlooked four-year-old supply. Bean seed viability is often rated at three years, but I didn’t doubt that these were fine, they looked and felt great. I tested some anyhow: wrapped them in a paper towel, misted them with water, popped them in a clear ziploc plastic bag, put them in a warm spot. That was about three weeks ago. Sure enough, a week later, the not-so-little white radicles were poking out of all of these big beans. Excellent! So I put them back in the bag and kinda forgot about them, moved them and all. Today, they were unpacked, and even without any light for at least a week, the seedlings were lustily struggling to break free. Now the kinda obsessive part is, I FEEL BAD ABOUT THROWING THEM OUT! This is pretty crazy. There is no good reason to pot them in February and have ’em hanging around for months until it’s warm and dried out enough to transplant. After two-three months in a pot, they’ll be useless as proper transplants, anyhow. Meanwhile, in a couple of weeks, there’ll start to be so many seedlings around here, and this keep-’em-all urge I’m having now will be gone without a trace. So I stuck ’em in some water, just for now… I thought this beginning of the season hang-on-to-every-seedling thing would wear off after a few years, but apparently not yet. Maybe I don’t take this business of tiny farming seriously enough! :)

Facebooktwitterpinterestmail

14 Comments

  1. Not odd at all! Last fall (late summer) when I was doing even my little bit of fall seeding it crushed me to have to thin out the seedlings…. just “killing” them pained me, especially after all the investment to have them grow.  I think it shows how much we love seeing that life growing – especially this time of year.

  2. Steve Mudge

    I get a little better at it each year but still have same issues–I just transplanted tomatoes–only needed three plants of each variety but kept extras and repotted into individual 4″ pots!  Oh well, I usually find a home for them with friends.  For thining, plants like beets, lettuce, cabbage family–just eat them!

  3. I’ve started my seedlings too.  I understand how you feel about not wasting one little greenie – it’s like they’re your children!

  4. David Keltie

    Why not transplant them? Broad beans will stand OK at this time of year in the UK. In Scotland, I put them in late Oct and after germination they would stand all winter.

    Here in Herefordshire, I transplanted some from root-trainers last week – they’re looking good!

  5. Mash ’em, mix with olive oil and garlic, spread on a piece of toast, salt and pepper to taste. Not wasted, and delicious!

    S.

  6. Scott

    The chickens won’t waste them :)

  7. organicsheri

    I totally understand!!
    Skepweaver, that sounds like a good idea! I never would have thought of that. Thanks for sharing.
    David from the UK…I’m looking out my window at a snowstorm that is currently happening. In this part of the world, the ground is frozen about 6′ down (Manitoba, Canada)…but I heard you lot had some snow there too this year!
    Great photo Mike.

  8. David Keltie

    Yes – a lot of snow (well at least 8ins and it lay on the ground for nearly a week and the children couldn’t get to school for 3 whole days. So we had to summon up the Dunkirk spirit, find new hyperboles to describe our fortitude and stock up on tins of spam. Us Brits, eh?).

    Guess you have a short growing season. Forgive my presumption. Time for a bubble-wrapped polytunnel?

  9. I would pot them up just for fun in a bight cool place. I believe you can plant broad beans out as soon as the ground can be worked.

  10. “that almost overpowering feeling that you don’t want to waste even a SINGLE seedling…”

    Hah!  You’d hate to see what we do down here in Loooosiana to our seedlings.  Barely one in 20 makes it to adulthood, and even then we pick at them mercilessly the whole time they are alive.  We’re like savages :)

    FWIW, I’ve compiled a list of how long we’ve been able to keep seeds viable in a cool(ish) dark dehumidified place:

    Mustard: 7 years
    Blue Lake string beans: 5 years
    Broccoli: 7 years
    G90 Corn: 4 years (IT DOESN’T PRODUCE TRUE!)
    Black-eyed peas: 14 years (maybe longer, I’ll tell you next year)
    Clemson Spineless Okra: 6 years
    Cucumber: 5 years

    All I’m saying is that if you take care of your seeds, they will last for a very long time before planting.  Keep them cool and dry.  That’s all that they are asking for.

  11. It is so nice to get a few seedlings going again. Looks like another growing season will be here soon. I also have some onion seedling up.  And I’m looking forward to the favas. Have fun!

  12. Those are some nice looking seedlings.  I sometimes think that I like plants a lot better when they’re in the seedling stage than when they’re full grown plants.

  13. Dori

    OMG! I just now sprouted fava beans that are, no kidding, 20 years old. I never thought they would sprout. The package was marked last tested in 2009 and they were 13 years old then. I plant them in December in Seattle. But I have not planted them since 2009. Well I will plant these–I want some fresh seed.

    • Geoffrey

      I love when that happens. With many years of trading in the seed savers exchange we have quite the oversized collection here. From time to time we test out old seeds just to see what can make it as a trait we would like to carry on to a next generation. Good luck with the favas. Are you interested in sharing or trading?

Leave a Reply to Mangochild Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.