After fermentation, the seeds are separated from the pulp and the skin by washing as often as may be required to obtain clean seeds. The good seeds settle to the bottom of the vessel, while pulp, skin and light seeds rise to the top, and may be poured off. Three or four washings are usually sufficient. Sieves are often used in the process of separation by washing.

After windmilling or washing the seeds must be thoroughly cured before storing. They should be spread in thin layers in lofts, or in dry, well-ventilated places until thoroughly cured. It is an advantage to wash early in the morning of bright days to facilitate drying. Seeds must not be subjected to freezing temperatures before being cured, for this invariably impairs their germinating power.

144. Preservation Of Seeds

Seeds may be stored in either cloth or paper bags. The greatest enemy to the preservation of seeds is moisture, but the conditions in an ordinary living room are satisfactory, although neither high nor low temperatures affect the vitality, provided the seeds are well cured and the humidity is low. It is a well-known fact that seeds do not keep well in the South, because of the great amount of moisture in the air. The hot weather also hastens deterioration. Some seeds, as that of turnip, cabbage and radish, may mold unless kept in well-ventilated bags.

145. Buying Seeds

Buy the best; the price is secondary. It costs much more to produce good seeds than poor, because the time of experts and the most severe roguing are required. For example, certain well-bred strains of Jersey Wakefield cabbage tested at the Pennsylvania State College were found to be much more profitable than others. (Pa. Sta. Bul. 96.) A few more dollars a pound for seed is not worth considering when there is assurance of increased profits.

Buy from reputable houses; they desire to serve you well. All good seed houses have specialties in which they take great pride, and it often pays to patronize these houses when such varieties are wanted. Special commercial growers sometimes purchase, a year in advance, liberal quantities of the same variety from different houses. Each lot is then tested and the best is used for the regu-lar plantings the following year.

146. Seed Guarantees

Several states have enacted laws to regulate the seed trade. Such laws have doubtless been valuable, but it is an extremely difficult matter to control by law. Legislation is needed more for farm seeds than for garden seeds, as impurities are seldom found in vegetable seeds. Many firms are making an honest effort to sell good seed, but errors in labeling may occur, and inclement weather may affect the vitality of seeds, and unjust penalties might be imposed if legislation were too severe in this matter. There are humbugs in the seed business, but why should they be patronized when there are so many reputable dealers, although even the most reliable dealers may make mistakes?

147. Change Of Seed

There is a prevailing idea that growers should change seed after using the same strain for a few years. If the seed is selected at home without care or intelligence, this advice is in order. On the other hand, if the fundamental principles of breeding are observed, why should it be necessary to discontinue a strain of merit for one of unknown value? A change of variety is a different proposition and this can often be done to advantage.

148. Novelties

All good varieties now in cultivation were once novelties. Advancement hafts been possible because novelties arouse universal interest, although comparatively few of them ever become of great value. The grower, however, never knows when a novelty may become more valuable than an old variety he has been growing perhaps for many years. The testing of novelties, then, is of economic value. The producer who is specializing in only a few important vegetables can well afford to test the novelties. One of superior merit might materially increase profits if substituted for a long cultivated variety. A sample packet of seeds is sufficient to test a novelty and therefore the expense is slight, while the reward may be great.

149. Old Versus New Seed

Fresh seed usually germinates more promptly than old seed, although there may be advantages in sowing old seeds. Many gardeners claim that fresh seed of the cucurbits (melons, cucumbers, squashes, etc.) tends to produce more vine and leaf and less fruit than seed several years old. But fresh seed is generally preferred and is particularly important when the vitality of the seed is low, as with onion and parsnip.

150. Seed Testing

Seeds may be tested to determine their purity, trueness to name or type and their viability or power to grow. As most garden seeds do not contain impurities, testing for this purpose is of little importance, while testing for trueness to name or type is of great importance, and can be done to a considerable extent by special growers who are cultivating only a few crops. Most of the testing at the experiment stations has been done to determine the sprouting or germinating qualities of garden seeds. Sprouting tests are made in plates, pans, dishes and in various apparatus where soil and moisture conditions may be controlled to a greater or less degree. Gardeners want to know whether their seeds will grow when planted under real conditions, and germination tests are regarded more valuable by practical growers when carried on under natural conditions. Seeds are counted in lots of 25, 50, or better 100, and planted in drills. The soil should be in good physical condition and watered often enough to keep it moist. When sufficient time has been allowed for germination, the plants in each row are counted and the percentage determined. Such a test may be the means of avoiding losses and disappointments by sowing seed of low germinating power. It requires very little time, and it is a great satisfaction to make the main planting with the assurance that a high percentage of the seed will grow. Most of the large seed houses test the germinating power of their seeds before supplying customers.

Rules and regulations for official seed testing, adopted by the standing committee on methods of seed testing of the Association of American Colleges and Experiment Stations, are published in Circular 34 of the Office of Experiment Stations.

The following table shows about the average percentages of germination of one-year-old seed when planted under proper conditions:

Asparagus

90

Bean

90

Beet

140*

Cabbage

.......... 90

Carrot

.......... 80

Cauliflower

.......... 80

Celery

60

Corn, sweet

.......... 85

Cucumber

85

Eggplant

75

Lettuce

.......... 85

Muskmelon

85

Okra

80

Onion

80

Panley

70

Parsnip

70

Pea..................

90

Radish

90

Salsify

75

Spinach

80

Squash

85

Tomato..............

.......... 85

Watermelon

.......... 85

*Botanically a fruit, often containing more than one seed.

151. The Longevity Of Seeds

The life of seeds depends upon (1) the kind of vegetables, (2) conditions under which they were grown, (3) thoroughness of curing and (4) storage conditions. In some years seeds lose their vitality more rapidly than in others. The figures in the following table relative to the longevity of vegetable seeds are conservative, for it is not best to place too much reliance upon tables of this character; the only certain means of determining the vitality of seeds is to make germination tests.

The following table shows maximum ages of properly cured and stored vegetable seeds when they will be likely to germinate satisfactorily:

Years

Artichoke ...................

2

Asparagus ......................

2

Bean .......................

3

Beet ......................

4

Cabbage ......................

3

Carrot .......................

1

Cauliflower ...................

4

Celery ......................

2

Cucumber ......................

5

Eggplant ......................

5

Endive ...................

2

Kale ........................

2

Kohlrabi ......................

3

Leek.........................

3

Years

Lettuce ....................

4

Muskmelon ...................

5

Okra......

4

Onion ..................

1

Parsley .......................

1

Parsnip .....................

1

Pea ......................

3

Pepper ....................

3

Radish........................

2

Salsify .......................

2

Squash .....................

3

Tomato .....................

5

Turnip ...................

4

Watermelon. .............

5