How to Store Seeds Long Term
It doesn’t matter whether you are saving your own seeds or have purchased seeds, you need to store them properly if you wish to store them for the long term. Today we are going to look at some tips that will help you to store your own seeds correctly and explain how to keep them in the best condition for long-term storage.
Before we start, don’t worry if you have seeds that you have planted that appear to be duds. Don’t let it dishearten you, we’ve all been there at some point. Hopefully with the help of this post, we can minimize the chances of that ever happening to you again.
Your Seeds Need to be Dry
You MUST start out with dry seeds. We would usually let our seeds dry out for anywhere up to a month before we store them to ensure that they are thoroughly dried out.
The Best Conditions for Storing Seeds
First off we need to take a look at the containers in which you will be storing your seeds. It doesn’t matter whether they are glass, metal, or plastic, as long as they are airtight.
I am sure you have seen those silica gel packets coming in various things that you have bought and now would be a good time to put them to good use. By adding them to your seed-saving containers you can make sure that you safeguard against moisture.
Seeds should be stored in a dry, dark place with consistently cool temperatures—like a cupboard.
Storing Seeds in the Freezer
If you want to store your seeds for the long-term, you should consider freezing (completely dry) seeds in a glass jar. The refrigerator is second-best, since temperatures aren’t as consistent there due to the door being opened on a regular basis.
Recovering Seeds from the Freezer or Refrigerator
To recover seeds from the freezer for use:
- Set the jar out on a kitchen table or shelf for 12 hours so it can reach room temperature. This will prevent moisture from condensing on the seeds.
- Expose the seeds to air by opening the lid for a few days before planting.
Refrain from moving seeds from the freezer to room temperature more than once, as each transfer will reduce the viability of the seeds.
If you have a good quantity of seeds that you are saving, you need to have a system for keeping the seeds organized so that you know what you have. There is no point buying seeds if you already have plenty of them. It is also good to use a rotation method much like you should do with your food as in first in first out. This will make sure that the older seeds are used first.
If you purchase seeds, you will see an origination date on it, which is the date the seeds were collected. If you collect your own seeds, you will need to date your packets. Using this number can help you quickly sift through seed packets and categorize them by year if you need to.
There are two ways I like to organize seeds: card catalog style and Mason jar style. Your storage organization will largely depend on your lifestyle and environment, but no matter which style you choose, be sure it is an airtight solution that keeps seeds dry and cool.
Organizing Seeds with the Card Catalog Style
Use a rectangular airtight container that is deep enough to store seed packets standing up. Make sure the lid fits well when full. Dividers can help to find things even quicker. Seeds of a certain type can be catalogued in order of their origination date, so older seeds get used first.
Organizing Seeds with the Mason Jar Style
Mason jars allow you to store seeds in smaller units. How you organize your Mason jars will depend on your storage needs and how many seeds you’re storing. If you’re a tomato lover, store all of your tomato varieties together in one Mason jar. Or, try themed gardens in Mason jars. Seeds for a spring garden, a salad garden, or a salsa garden could store well together in one jar. However you organize your seeds, be sure to keep track of seed origination dates.