Storing Seeds

QUESTION: What is the best way to store my seeds?
- A gardener from Alabama

ANSWER: That is a common question among gardeners everywhere, especially within the seed-saving circles. If seeds aren't stored properly, they will not germinate well in future years and all your hard work will be for nothing.

Since seeds sprout when they’re introduced to moisture, warmth, and light, you want to keep them far from such influences while storing them. If stored at room temperature, seed will approximately last 2-3 years, more or less depending on the particular vegetable. The seed life doubles with every 10º the temperature is lowered.

A dry, cool, and dark room is ideal. Store them in the refrigerator, basement, or cellar. You can use all sorts of containers – glass jars, Tupperware containers, buckets, cups, bags, etc. Sealed containers with lids are best, but we do not recommend vacuum-packing because seeds are living organisms that need oxygen to live. Without air to breathe, they're suffocated and you will notice a decrease in the germ rates.

We also do not suggest freezing your seeds. There are a lot of varying opinions and stances on this matter. Let me explain why we don't recommend it. If seeds are placed in a freezer with more than 6% moisture content, they will inevitably crack and will not germinate. Sometimes the damage can be so small that the fractures in the seed are not easily visible. Don't store them in the freezer or else you risk losing seed that wasn't completely dry and ruining your hopes for future plantings.

It's very easy to give your seeds the right environment and encourage them to live long lives in your garden. Take care of them and they will, in turn, take care of you.

Here's a list of approximate years to expect from seed saved and stored properly:

Vegetable Seed Longevity

Beans----------------------- 2 – 4 years
Beets------------------------ 3 – 6 years
Broccoli--------------------- 3 – 5 years
Cabbage--------------------- 4 years
Carrots---------------------- 2 – 3 years
Corn------------------------- 2 – 3 years
Cowpeas--------------------- 3+ years
Cucumbers------------------ 5 – 10 years
Eggplants------------------- 2 – 5 years
Lettuce---------------------- 2 – 6 years
Melons---------------------- 5 – 10 years
Okra------------------------- 2 – 5 years
Onions---------------------- 1 – 2 years
Peas------------------------- 2 – 3 years
Peppers--------------------- 2 – 3 years
Radishes-------------------- 3 – 5 years
Spinach--------------------- 2 – 5 years
Squash---------------------- 2 – 6 years
Tomatoes------------------- 3 – 10 years
Watermelon---------------- 4 – 5 years

How do you store your seeds? Do you have any questions? Let us help!

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