Seed Identification

texas_jenniferJanuary 22, 2007

When my grandparents passed on, I rescued a bunch of my grandfather's seeds from their house as we were cleaning it out. None of these particular ones are labelled. So, I'm hoping someone here might can help me id them. The link to see the pictures is: (just copy and paste)

Sorry, I don't know how to post pictures here in this forum.

Thanks so much if you can help!

One other thing, could I successfully transplant these if I tried starting them indoors (mostly to see if they will grow)?

Thanks again!


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gardenlad(6b KY)

Sadly, Jennifer, it's almost impossible to identify bean varieties just by looking at the seed, because too many of them are similar.

Were it me, I would try to grow them out, and, if successful, just track them with my own system. Maybe Grandad #1, or Papaw's Lima. Something like that.

As to pre-starting. Conventional wisdom has it that you should not pre-start beans; or, at most, start them two weeks before transplant.

The fact is, however, that you can pre-start, and transplant them, long in advance. In England they do it all the time, starting them as much as six and eight weeks before transplant.

You do want to be careful not to overly stress the roots, though. Because of that, it's a good idea to start them in a peat or newspaper pot; something that gets buried with the plant.

The real problem, starting them too early, is that the vines start to take over. And that can be a real mess.

You didn't say how many of each variety you have. But an alternative, if you have a quantity, is to do a germination test. Fold ten seeds in a damp paper towel. Put that in a plastic bag, and store it in a warm place. Starting about the third day, examine the seeds daily to see if any have sprouted (if so, you'll see a thin, white foot emerging from the eye). By about the 10th day, all the seed which will sprout has.

I suspect, though, that you'll have good luck. Bean seed lasts an incredibly long time, even when mistreated. And the fact is, all you need is enough of them to grow, this year, so you can save fresh seed for the future.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 7:23AM
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jimster(z7a MA)


Do you know if those beans were varieties he had saved seed of and kept going for many years so they would be considered family heirloom varieties? Or are they more likely commercial varieties?


    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 7:42AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Here's a click-on link to the pics.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jennifer's Bean Pics

    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 7:49AM
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gardenlad-WOW! Thanks for all the useful info! I'll give the germination test a try. The reason I asked about that is, I tried last year planting some cream peas (I think) because I just loved them. Nothing came up, at all. :(
But I'll give that a try.
I didn't figure it would be easy to id them from the seeds, but I was just hoping...

Jimster-I would consider them family heirlooms, as he planted a garden yearly since I was very little. (I'm now 37). His last garden was probably about 6-7 years ago. He grew up in a farm family, and so his was a way of life. That's another reason I want to grow them. His garden always produced such yummy things!
Thank you for the link! How'd you do that?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 10:26AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

"How'd you do that?"

I just copied the URL you provided, "";, and pasted it into the space labeled "Optional Link URL:". Then I typed "Jennifer's Bean Pics" into the space labeled "Name of the Link:".


    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 11:05AM
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didn't see that when I originally posted.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 1:52PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Hey. Don't worry. This a friendly place.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 2:08PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

From the photos, the seeds appear to be limas & cowpeas (or just "peas" for those down south). The color is too poor to make out any of the varieties... and as Gardenlad pointed out, there are many with similar appearances, so we would just be guessing. Could you verify the color of the limas in photos #2 & #3?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 4:48PM
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It seems they look like beans.Just plant them,they will sprout if still viable.It will be easier to identify from the product.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 12:46AM
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