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seed storage longevity?

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by RJB, Mar 22, 2007.

  1. RJB

    RJB Monkey+++

    I bought way more heirloom seeds than I needed last year. I didn't store them any special way other than I kept them in the house and dry. Will they all be viable? Are certain species better at storage than others? How should I store them next time? Thanks.

  2. Blackjack

    Blackjack Monkey+++

    I'll bet they'll be fine after just one year. Melbo tested some very old seeds not too long ago... I hope he chimes in because I lost the thread.

    I've used year old seeds successfully a few times.
  3. NVBeav

    NVBeav Monkey+++

    I've used garden seed that was about 5-years old with only a little germination problem, but I've heard that the percentage that germinate goes down with age.

    Here's a link to food storage, but you'll have to search for info on garden seeds... http://waltonfeed.com/grain/life.html
  4. ripsnort

    ripsnort Monkey+++

    In general the seeds of most of what is grown in a garden will remain viable for 5 years. There are some exceptions. Off the top of my head I recall that onions, parsnips and sweet corn have much shorter shelf lifes. Next time put them in a canning jar and put them in a freezer.
  5. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    We save all of our own seed and never do anything special to store them. We just put them in baby food jars or mason jars, then put the jars in a large rubbermaid container. The container is placed in a non tempeture controled room. We have had seeds strored like that for 3-4 years includeding corn, and we never have had a problem. [dunno]

  6. NVBeav

    NVBeav Monkey+++

    Great idea about putting them in baby jars! I've got a bunch stashed away to be used for crafts "someday" -- they'll just have to be appropriated.
  7. ripsnort

    ripsnort Monkey+++

  8. Blackjack

    Blackjack Monkey+++

    Nice work Ripsnort!
  9. snowbyrd

    snowbyrd Latet anguis in herba

    good to know that okra dies off in two years or so. Only vegie I will not eat. Tried it many many times and many many ways............Horriable

    thats why I prefer Donihue

    ha ha
  10. DesertDawg

    DesertDawg Monkey+++

    HMM! I wonder if freezing seeds will "suspend" them for several years, or if the frost will eventually get to them? Maybe store the seeds in vacuum-sealed bags before freezing them, so no moisture seeps in?

    I know that certain edibles can be frozen for many, many years without harming them.
  11. ripsnort

    ripsnort Monkey+++

    Freezing generally does extend viability. So does storage in inert gases, I as recall nitrogen is one of the most successful. What temperature and which gas and what percent seed moisture varies for each species and even between varieties. There have been 1000s of studies done on this. Yes, you definitely have to pack the seeds in air and moisture proof containers.
  12. jash

    jash Monkey+++

    My better half and I worked for a herb greenhouse business for 4 years. Since we had very hard to find stuff we often saved seeds, and I still do it from plants in my yard/garden. Save the little silica packs that come with shoes, purses/bags, etc. and put them in a freezer bag with the seeds a few days before freezing. This will make sure that they are dried out. Then put them in the freezer. The freezer bag must be completely closed, with as much air as possible squeezed out. Jars work very well also.

    Archaeologists have found seed caches from Native American tribes in North and South America that were stored (usually in the ground) for a few thousand years and they were still viable. It is really amazing how resilient plants/seeds are.
  13. Sojourner

    Sojourner Silverback

    Talked to my local seed guy, and made a deal with him for the seeds that he usually returns at the end of growing season. I can get whatever seeds that I want at 75% off. Even if they are not heirloom or open pollinate, they will give us a start until I can find all those that I want for long term and seed saving. They will store well in vac sealed jars. Might be something to check into in your area.
  14. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Moderator Moderator Founding Member

    I just harvested a bunch of sunflower and basil seeds from my garden. I plant to save some of the sunflower seeds, plant some now, and roast some for eating (I love sunflower seeds).

    I also plan to plant some of the basil and store some for later use.
  15. <exile>

    <exile> Padawan Learner

    When you say local seed guy are you talking about a nursery or some sort of heirloom sales person? We've just started gardening and ordered our heirlooms from a catalog, would prefer to buy them locally but I'm not sure where to look.
  16. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I would say that the best idea for long term seed storage would be in the garden. Get heirloom seeds and plant them, even if its a smaller plot, and keep twice the seed each year you would need for the largest garden you could grow (leaves some for trade/shareing if home grown is NEEDED next year) then replant what you need in the spring and the rest can be traded for seeds you dont have or discarded when the new seeds are harvested. This gives a triple advantage, it saves money over buying seed each year, gives you fresh seed each year and makes sure you have experience NOW on growing all of the plants you would plan to be feeding yourself with in a time of need so you make your learning mistakes now when you just go to the store instead. Just my 2 cents.
  17. fritz_monroe

    fritz_monroe Monkey+++

    I've been thinking about seeds a lot lately. These hybrid things are a monstrosity. I really don't like what the seed companies are doing. Luckily there are many people that don't like the hybrids and strive to keep non-hybrid seeds going.

    I'm curious if anyone has found the best way to get the maximum shelf life out of seed packets. I've read through everything here on heirloom seeds and saw the thread where someone planted 7 year old seeds and they grew. I just keep seeing those cans of non-hybrid seeds and thinking that they would be great to put away, but if they only last a couple years why bother?

    Since we are just starting to really work on stocking up, we haven't even planted a garden over the past few years. Since we have a small yard, I'm thinking that square foot gardening might be the way to go.
  18. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Im sure others will give advise on other ways but IMO the BEST way to be sure you have good seeds is to get fresh seeds then plant some of them (if you dont want much of a garden now then just 3-4 plants of each kind otherwise half the sed in case something happens that year and you dont get the seeds from them) then when they produce keep the twwice the seed (at MINIMUM) that you would need for a FULL garden and discard the old ones.

    This way you always have fresh seed that hasnt had to be stored for several years but if the garden dosent produce anything (one fruit will normaly seed several gardens) then you get another chance from 2 year old seed. Once you replace the seed with new of the same discard or pass on the old seed that should still be viable for a few years. Also keep in mind this is an EXCELENT way to build a supply of a barterable comodity for nothing but a bit of time and in the mean time you get fresh good food for it. Heirloom seed would be gold in a long term SHTF senario. Just think how many tomato plants you could grow from all the seeds in one tomato or mellon vines from the seeds in one mellon, green beans from the seeds produced by one plant and so on. One plant of each variety would produce enouph seed to plant acres of that plant the next year.
  19. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    Agreed. One thing that most people don't think about though is that alot of things will cross with each other, then you don't have pure seed. There are two ways to get around this. One is to cage things and hand polinate. The second is to grow things that will not cross with each other, this is what WG and I do. Do you really need 6 types of tomatoes? We have found one that is productive and easy to grow in our area, so that is the one we grow and only that one. This is something that takes years to figure out. We have tried lots of varietes of different veggies to find what works here. Just because something that works for us may not work in someone elses area, This is why I say it takes years to figure this stuff out.

  20. JHH

    JHH Monkey+++

    Vaccume sealed is the best way I have found to store for more than a couple years, still all the seeds don't come up, but even new seeds don't always produce. I use the traditional garden planting, but my friend does 4'x4' boxes. Black plastic on the ground, untreated 2x12s, potting soil and he has almost a work free garden. Almost no weeds and no tilling. He will have one with 16 stalks of corn and this year he ran beans with them as I do and another with tomatoes and still more with different things squash and such. The are cheap to build then plant and no work till you pick. Can't beat that.
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