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Saving and Storing Seeds for Best Results

Have you ever inherited garden seeds? Carefully opened a packet of seeds placed reverently in your hands by a family member or friend? Some gardens seeds are actually considered family heirlooms carefully selected for their superior qualities, and are passed down through generations. Saving and storing seeds is an art and tradition.

Seeds are like gems in the hands of a gardener.
~LeAura Alderson,

In times past, it was common for every gardener to save seeds. But with the easy availability of seeds and the development of hybrids a lot of that knowledge has been lost to many people. Now with the easy availability of information it is time to bring that knowledge back.

You don’t have to be a breeder or own a plant nursery to save your own seeds. Most gardeners keep on saving seeds from their best plants year to year, though most gardeners also delight in ordering new seeds to plant something new they’ve not tried before.

Cucamelon, for instance. We tried these “Mexican Gherkins” this year. Have you heard of it? And if you have, have you tried it yet? We really like them. They’re like a pleasing tangy and juicier cucumber, they look cool in salads and on your plate and they make great healthy travel snacks in their sturdy self-contained, miniature watermelon like skin.

Seeds are to gardeners what words are to writers.
They hold within an entire story waiting to unfold.
~LeAura Alderson,

storing seeds

Seed Saving Tips and the Survival of the Fittest

Seed saving is the science of common sense. When it comes to seed saving, you want to save seeds only from the strongest plants. But more than that, you don’t even want to leave the smallest producing plants in the garden else they will compromise future generations.

A few golden rules that apply to all seed saving, by Mark Ridsdill Smith on


  • Save seeds from healthy plants.
  • Ensure your seeds are dry before storing them – and keep them somewhere cool and dry. A large glass jar with a lid or a plastic container is perfect.


  • Save seeds from F1s. F1s are hybrids, and if you save seeds from them, the plant you grow is unlikely to have the same characteristics as the parent plants. (Seed packets tell you if the plant is an F1).1)

For more, you’ll enjoy this informative tour of lovely gardens and learn the secrets to saving vegetable seeds.

Seed saving is the science of common sense. Save the best seeds from the best plants.
~LeAura Alderson,

The complete guide, vegetable seed saving

Watch more videos on saving seeds at: Work with Nature.2)

The book, Seed to Seed is a great resource for saving seeds:

Saving seeds is another important layer of gardening. Of course you can always buy good seeds from a reliable source, but it’s wonderful to save your own seeds for a family heritage of seeds that can be passed down for generations.

Are You Storing Seeds?

Around here, we hardly plant all the seeds that come in the packets, except maybe corn and peas. We used to take those partly-empty seed packets, stuff them in a Mason jar, and put the jar in the fridge where it often remained until next season because we ended up buying six packs of plants at the local garden store, impatient to get growing things in the ground.

Now, we use the Garden Planner Pro app for garden planning and love it! It helps us better plan and update our garden and to easily change things as needed. You can also quickly create your second and third plantings, while keeping track of what you’ll need, how much space they’ll take and when you need to plant them.

The Garden Planner Pro app even has a list of suppliers included in the app so that you can click directly through to order seeds as needed! Very cool! So after years of creating garden plans by hand, we’re loving nifty this tool!



Now, we grow almost everything from seed! Well… maybe buy a few six packs of marigolds and some extra tomato plants here and there.

For a gardener to come back from the home store without a plant is like a kid coming back from a candy store without candy! 😁
~LeAura Alderson,



How to Properly Store Seeds at Home

Containers for seed storage can be glass, envelopes, ziplock bags and even clay vessels, although air-tight containers are recommended for long-term storage.

The most important part is keeping seeds cool, dry, and dark – the big three rules to remember in proper seed storage.

3 rules of seed storage—keep them:

  1. cool

  2. dry

  3. dark

What lovely herbal pantry stores!

Seeds Need a Good Environment

Seeds are embryos encased in a womb shell, or, as someone eloquently said, “A seed is a plant in a box with its lunch.” Because seeds are alive, they’ll inevitably lose viability if exposed to the wrong environment. Leaving seeds in the sun on your car dash, lying around the kitchen sink, or left outside exposed to the elements are all liable to negatively impact your seeds.

By keeping seeds in a steady-state environment, they’ll continue to remain viable and well-adjusted. While it’s important to properly store your treasured seeds, it’s worth noting that seeds in general have evolved to be quite resilient.

Some seeds prefer to self-seed, meaning the parent plant is allowed to grow seeds and shed them in-place, like cilantro, but others can be harvested and live in storage longer than expected. A farmer we met in California claims he had forgotten a large grain sack filled with Swiss chard in the back corner of his barn dated from 1995 – he planted the seeds last year, and wouldn’t you know? Near every seed germinated. Wow… impressive!

One of the best places for short-term (<5 years) seed storage—a practice tried and true—is on a shelf in your bedroom closet or root cellar (cool, dry, dark).3)

Remember to label your seeds properly!

“A seed is a plant in a box with its lunch.”
~Unknown author


Excerpted from Suzanne Ashworth’s book, Seed to Seed

Freezing Seeds

If you really want to hedge your bets, properly storing seeds in the freezer may keep them dormant and waiting for years. All species of seeds can be stored for many years with almost no loss of germination. Just be sure they’re dried to minimal moisture and sealed into an airtight container.

How to Test Seed Moisture

Seeds must be dried to 8% or less before freezing to prevent the excess moisture from expanding and rupturing cell walls.But how can you tell how much moisture is in a seed?

If the seeds are not thoroughly dry, the excess moisture expands when frozen and will rupture the cell walls. A quick and easy way to test moisture in seeds is to bend them. If they’re 8% or less moisture, the seed will break. If they contain too much moisture for freezing, the seed will bend instead of break.

To test moisture in hard shell seeds, such as beans or corn, will shatter instead of mashing if dry enough when placed on concrete and struck with a hammer.4)

The awesome Teca Thomson of Farm to Table, walks you through freezing seeds in this video. 5)

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Keep on Growing!

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