I have a basket of seeds. Some are as old as 2002. They've not been refrigerated or frozen - and thus are quite likely to be worthless. At the time, every packet was a daydream. A little collection of possibilities. And so I find myself this year, knowing the odds of any plants arising from the seeds, but unwilling to not give them a chance, so planting as many as possible. So with the older seeds any germination is a cause for joy. But I've gotten new veg seed - since I used most of the older already, and I've saved seeds from my own plants - marigolds, amaryllis, iris, peony, and alliums. But this is the first year I've had any trouble starting marigolds.
I think perhaps the african marigolds I saved the seed from last year must have been mules - an entire flat and a damp papertowel in a plastic bag both got 0% germination. And the 2004 seed I tried seemed dessicated. (Did get one seedling from that though). So tonight I poured boiling water over the marigold 0% germ. flat and then replanted with various perennial seeds - I think the lupines have a good chance. I planted quite a few seeds in each peat pellet, (the chances of germination are rather low) and hopefully will get a couple seedlings.
I've still got 0% for ground cherries and cleome. I've ordered fresh ground cherry seed - I dithered about the cost of shipping from Seed Savers long enough that they ran out of plants. I'm not 100% certain that the berry after dessert in France was a ground cherry - but with no local sources - growing my own seems to be the only chance to find out. I'm contemplating buying a 6 pack of cleome - or another pack of seeds to scatter directly outdoors. Perhaps I should try the papertowel method with cleome, if I can find my remaining seed.
I tried the frig then bottom heat this time. Rather than just pop it in, cover, and put under the lights. I took a few more and put them in the frig for some more time - but still no sign now that they are under the lights. I've read that people get the best germination rates direct sowing or winter sowing - so perhaps just throwing out some seed... Unless they've dropped the price on the cleome at the nursery....