The Penguins – Seed Bank Freezer Project

The Penguins – or the Freezer Committee of the Seed Bank.

Team members – Terry Batt, Jenny Gohl and Royann Petrell.


In march we took one of the bins of seeds saved in 2012. Our aim was to start germination testing.

We found that some of the packets had too few seeds for freezing and germination testing.

If we start with 100 seeds and take out 20 for testing this year and another 20 when we test again in 2019 – that means we will have saved only 60 seeds.

We also found that not all of the seeds were perfect. They had a spot of mould or discolouration or were small or nicked. We would prefer only freezing the best seeds.

Some of the seed packets had a lot of uncleaned seeds – obviously a waste of freezer space.

So we have a list of recommendations for our dedicated seed savers.

  1. Quantity – 150 seeds
  2. Quality – your best seeds
  3. Carefully cleaned.

Germination testing

As scientific as possible – we are researching the ideal temperatures and conditions for each seed.

Each variety requires different handling so we are learning a lot. Some need light and some need dark,some warm, some cool.

We’re keeping careful records to help future testers.

We are starting with 20 seeds If 17 germinate its a pass – 85%. Anything less we will try and get growers to grow them out for new seeds. Sometimes we give them a second chance when we suspect that the error was ours and not the seeds.


We have a lot of black turtle beans from different growers. They all germinated at 95 to 100%

We plan to amalgamate these for more efficient freezer space and biodiversity.

The same with the Giant French beans, as we don’t have 150 from one grower but can make up our numbers by combining Royann’s and mine.


15th April

Penguins met in Royston.

Results of 2012 germination tests are almost all collected so these seeds are back in the bin, waiting for drying with silica.

We divided up the seeds from the 2013 bin – approx 25 varieties to each of us. We are following the guidelines of Seeds of Diversity and they say its important to have the germination baseline before saving seeds.

Its a daunting task and we would appreciate the help of any scientifically inclined person who enjoys germinating seeds. The beans are easy and we eat them afterwards! If it was later, or we had the space we could grow them our for the plant sale or our gardens.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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