Have a few seeds left over from the growing season you’d like to preserve for next year? Turns out, you can actually save your seeds until conditions are again ripe for planting. Read on to find out how.
Before we get started on particulars, its important to know some basics about the seeds you are attempting to keep. For instance, tomatoes, peppers, beans and peas are excellent choices for beginners. Their flowers are self-pollinating, and don’t require any special handling prior to storing. Carrots, parsnips and onions, on the other hand, can be incredibly picky, and short lived. These short-lived variants are best to freeze. Its always important to investigate the particular handling characteristics of your specific seeds. That said, some good generic rules are listed below.
Step 1: Temperature
The most important thing to consider when storing your seeds is ambient temperature. Keep the seeds in a cool spot out of direct sunlight, where the temperature stays relatively consistent. A cold room or basement often works well. While freezing is not necessary for short periods of storage, only refrigerate if you can guarantee the conditions will be also be dry.
Step 2: Humidity
This brings us to our next requirement: the seeds need to be dry. Very dry. All seeds really need to germinate is a little water, and a little warmth. Thus one key way to prevent them from a spontaneous sprouting is to dry them fully before sealing them in an airtight container. From there, making sure the area you plan to store them in is free of humidity can also help (though if you do plan to store them in either a refrigerator or freezer, make sure your storage container is perfectly dry and airtight). Again, consistency is key, with moisture as well as temperature.
Step 3: Protection
I’m guessing the majority of people automatically selected a glass or metal receptacle as soon as I said airtight. If that happens not to be the case however, remember to keep your seeds away from pests. Don’t forget, seeds don’t just grow food, they are food, and almost every organism thinks so. This is particularly important if keeping your seeds in mesh or paper bags, in a root-cellar style setup.
Why keep seeds in such permeable containers, you may wonder? Its actually quite simple. If you are unsure of your drying process, storing in mesh or paper can actually be preferable, as the porous containers allow moisture and gas to escape the seeds (provided the atmosphere is dry).
And that, believe it or not, is it. Keep in mind, for longer periods you will want to freeze your seeds, but if you plan on keeping them for just a season, the above procedures will more than suffice. Simple as it sounds, just dry them, keep them cool and protect them through winter, and your seeds will be more than ready for the coming planting season.
A humble homesteader based in an undisclosed location, Lars Drecker splits his time between tending his little slice of self-sustaining heaven, and bothering his neighbors to do his work for him. This is mainly the fault of a debilitating predilection for fishing, hunting, camping and all other things outdoors. When not engaged in any of the above activities, you can normally find him broken down on the side of the road, in some piece of junk he just “fixed-up.”