Storing extra seeds can be an ongoing frustration for gardeners. Most people have extra vegetable and flower seeds each year, which remain viable for several years. Experts disagree on the best way to store the extras, but most agree that, unless kept in a cool, dry and dark location, your seeds may fail you next year. Following are a few creative ideas for saving seeds from year to year.
Keep Seeds in Their Original Packaging
Many gardening pros insist that seeds should be kept in their original packets. This way, you can easily identify the plant variety as well as cultivating instructions. Most packets are dated as well, so you can use the older leftovers first. Insert each packet into its own zip-close freezer bag, then toss them all into one large bag and place them in the refrigerator or freezer until next year. One creative grower suggests repurposing photo albums or portable CD wallets. CD jewel cases will also work for storage and may do double-duty by helping you repurpose obsolete disc accessories. If you can locate a 4×6 photo organizer, this also provides a perfect seed storage system.
Mason Jars and Rigid Containers
Diverging from the seed-packet storage purists, some garden mavens swear by using mason jars or other stout containers that can be tightly sealed. Although they suggest storing your jars in the refrigerator, that’s valuable real estate for most people. You can store the containers in a cool location such as the basement or the back of a little-used indoor closet. One expert recommends drying the seeds out prior to storage, either on a window sill, under a fan or in a food dehydrator set to 85 degrees F. Another option is to add little silica gel packets to each container.
Preserving Your Own Plant Seeds
Some years, your garden produces a perfect edible delight that you aspire to reproduce the next year. Harvest the seeds and place them on a ceramic or glass plate. Set the plate in a dry, shady spot and stir the seeds several times each day until they become brittle enough to break rather than bend. For tiny seeds, experts suggest drying them on paper towels. Although the seeds will stick to the paper, you can simply fold it up and store as suggested above. When planting time comes around, simply tear the towel into small pieces containing two to three seeds and plant them as usual. Note that if the plant is a hybrid species, its seeds will not reproduce the same plant. Unless the plant was open-pollinated, don’t bother trying to harvest the seeds.
In northern Utah, Millcreek Gardens is the local expert in gardening. Choose from seeds, seedlings and mature plants as well as tools, accessories and soil amendments. Visit Millcreek Gardens today and ask their friendly staff for more suggestions for storing extra seeds.