Old seeds and herbal teas – properly stored, both can stay viable

I recently ran across a large envelope filled the seeds we had leftover from our garden in the Hill Country. What a surprise! The seeds, all Heirloom variety seeds, were packaged for use by 2012.

It is now 2020. They’ve been misplaced for a while.

Back then, we bought bundles of seeds for vegetable gardening and several kinds of watermelons (remember that time we had watermelons growing in our front yard hedges, the year after I planted the seeds?), as well as a medicinal garden and kitchen herb garden.

I figured it wouldn’t hurt a thing to put a couple beans in a plastic baggie with a wet paper towel and stick it in on a window sill to see if there was any life left in the old seeds. Children in elementary school do the same experiment, or at least they did when I was in school.

I forgot about my baggie of beans for a few days, and when I remembered my own little experiment, I was tickled to find that the beans had all sprouted. One even had about three inches of green growth coming out of it. Every bean was attached to the still-damp paper towel with its strong, spindly little roots.

I put them in the ground almost immediately, and have my fingers crossed that the deer or javelina, whoever it was that just chomped my hollyhocks nearly to oblivion and dragged a potted cactus off the front porch, won’t notice. I’m pretty excited about getting more of the seeds going for our gardening experiments at home.

There are no real expiration dates on seeds packages. Most flower and vegetable seeds will stay viable for at least a few years if they’re stored at a low enough humidity and temperature. Newer seeds that  are only a year or so old, with packets still unopened, generally will germinate readily.

I guess having the seeds stored in an old briefcase we haven’t used in years was just the right temperature and darkness to keep them viable. The super low humidity of Far West Texas probably helped keep the seeds viable as well.

The medicinal garden package of seeds came with a booklet of traditional home remedies, using what can be grown from the seeds therein. There’s a section for Healing Herbal Teas that I find really interesting.

If you know me, or if you’ve ever been to my house and have gone looking for tea, (my family can attest), you know that I obsessively and compulsively collect tea.

I have all sorts of pre-packaged tea bags in every type of tea leaf you can imagine. I have tea for all sorts of health issues… teas that relieve sore throats, sinus pain, aid in detoxification, help lull you to sleep, keep you in an all-around good mood, and more.

This is the result of steeping dried chamomile in a tea ball. I thought it was so pretty… and when it dried, it fell apart.

I’ve got black tea, white tea, green tea, hibiscus tea, rooibos tea, hibiscus tea and then some. I’ve got loose bits of chamomile, cinnamon, ginger, raspberry leaf, licorice, spearmint, lavender, rosehips, yerba mate and more. It’s really quite more than I will probably ever use because I’m not a fan of a number of the prepacked tea bags.

Yet, I can’t make myself throw them away, probably because I bought them in the city where the selection was multitudes of anything we have out here in the Far Far West. The bags are individually sealed, so maybe someday when I develop a taste for the tea I don’t really like right now, I’ll have it on hand and can say, “Good thing I kept this!”

According to the booklet, these herbal teas, or “tisanes” as they’re called, are hot teas. Tips for brewing are, “Boil your water and remove from heat. Don’t boil the tea once the herbs have been added! Pour the hot water over the herbs and cover. Let steep 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how strong you want your tea to be. Strain and enjoy.”

These are some recipes for the herbal teas, or tisanes that anyone can create from herbs grown in your garden. If you can’t use fresh ingredients, you can substitute dried by using one-part dried herbs to two parts fresh herbs.

Relaxing Tea:
Chamomile is a well-known relaxant – drink this tea as you’re preparing for bed, or after a stressful day.
2 teaspoons fresh chamomile
1-1/2 cups water

Headache Tea:
A good remedy for a tension headache
2 teaspoons fresh catnip
1-1/2 cups water

Gastrointestinal Relief Tea
Fennel and anise will both work to relieve discomfort
1 teaspoon fennel
1 teaspoon anise
1-1/2 cups water

Cure-All Tea
An all-time favorite for just about every health issue
1 tablespoon fresh lemon balm
1 tablespoon fresh mint
2 teaspoons rosehips
2-1/2 cups water


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s