Storing Seeds

The summer garden is in. Days and weeks of digging beds and barrowing compost are over, and daily tasks shift to weeding and watering. It is time to store seeds.

I often have seeds left over after I plant what I want. If stored properly, most seeds will be viable for three to ten years, depending upon the variety. Sweet corn, beets, carrots and onions are infamous for their refusal to germinate after the first year, but tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash, cucumbers, and brassicas are more cooperative if stored in the right conditions.

After I have planted the garden, I tuck the packets with the unused seeds into small, plastic, ziplock bags, and write the name of the seed on the bag. It’s a good idea to add the date, too. I put the bags into a plastic shoe box with a tightly-fitting lid and stash it in a corner of the freezer. Yes, the freezer!

Store seeds in the freezer for future use.

Store seeds in the freezer for future use.

Seeds germinate when they encounter moisture and warmth, and the freezer is dry and cold. When you are ready to plant again in the spring, take the seeds out of the plastic bags and let them come up to room temperature. Condensation is not a good thing!

If you go to all the trouble to grow heirloom, open-pollinated varieties so that you can save your own seeds, make sure to store them properly so that you can enjoy a good harvest for many years.


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