Germination | Our Commitment!
By Nell Frazer Lindquist, January 2024
Just like every other seed company in the US, Snake River Seed Cooperative is required by state and federal law to provide proof of germination for all of our seeds. Regulators are primarily concerned with commodity seeds (agricultural and vegetable), but seeds of flowers and other ornamentals also require germination testing.
I conduct most of these required germination tests in our office, following procedures laid out by the Association of Official Seed Analysts (AOSA). However, there are many varieties of seed for which AOSA has no guidelines, so I use my professional horticultural knowledge and experience to create protocols to test those seeds. There are a few varieties we carry that require complicated germination tests and we send those to the Idaho State Seed Lab.
Many seed companies have all their tests done at seed labs, however, germination testing in-house allows SRSC to be intimately aware of the nuance inherent in each lot of seed. Seeds from the same variety of plant grown by different farmers in the same year can have different germination results. We acknowledge and honor the individuality of each seed lot. Having this knowledge of each lot by observing it as it germinates in our office respects our value of sacred relationship with the Earth.
Q&A with Nell
What inspires you about seeds?
Each seed contains everything necessary to grow a plant when the right conditions are present. Seeds touch every part of our lives.
We humans are not separate from and outside of Nature. Planting a seed embodies the essence of being human and helps us connect with our place as part of the web of life. The human race exists because our ancestors discovered the bounty that seeds can provide. Each time someone plants a seed, that connection is honored and renewed.
I hope to:
- Inspire excitement, care, and reverence for the natural processes that produce seeds and the human labour that goes into growing, harvesting, and packing those seeds
- Educate and empower people to learn about seeds, seed saving, growing their own food and ornamental plants, so they don’t have to rely on Big Ag or Big Hort for plants.
What is your background as it relates to starting plants and starting seeds?
My father was an avid gardener and introduced me to starting plants from seed kits when I was a young girl. Other activities he shared with me included going to the garden center and listening to the morning call-in radio show hosted by the horticultural extension agent for Harris County, Texas. As an adult, my first yard inspired me to become a serious gardener. It was nothing but lawn and I wanted so much more. I read gardening books and magazines, and pored over plant and seed catalogs. I soon realized that starting my own plants from seeds was a way to have more variety in my garden, since I wasn’t dependent on only what the nurseries wanted to sell me.
In Texas, I worked at a major agricultural university, so I began taking Horticulture classes there part-time. Upon moving to Boise, I took classes and became a certified Idaho Master Gardener. I was employed for 9 years at the Idaho Botanical Garden and for the 8 years I was the greenhouse manager and chief propagator for IBG. I was also the volunteer plant production lead for the Boise River ReWild Project, focused on growing native plants for restoration along the Boise River.
What drew you to Snake River Seed Co-op?
Snake River Seed Cooperative grew out of Earthly Delights seeds and the Commonwealth Seed Library, headed up by my dear friend, Casey O’Leary. As an intern at Casey’s Earthly Delights Farm, I was introduced to the wild and magical world of seed saving. I’m proud to be part of this vision.
SRSC was in need of a dedicated germination tester. My experience growing a wide variety of plants from seed has been a big help in understanding the magic and science of germination.
What are a few reasons that germination status is important to our customers?
To our Seed Co-op?
Required by law and we want to make sure we are offering the best possible seed to our customers so they can be successful. Our credibility as sellers of quality seeds is dependent on accurate germination information.