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Seed Saving and Storing for Best Results

Seed saving and storing is an annual ritual for many gardeners and heirloom seeds are a family tradition passed down through the generations. There’s something really special about planting seeds that came from generations before us.

Seed saving is another form of family legacy to pass down with each generation growing good crops from proven winner seeds.

Have you ever received heirloom seeds from a friend or family member who’s into seed saving from the best of their garden? Those seeds packets are often carefully opened and handled reverently. The gardener has taken special care in harvesting seeds from the best produce of the best plants, then storing them to remain dry and protected.

Saving and storing seeds is an art and tradition.

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

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Seed Saving Tradition

In times past, it was common for every gardener to save seeds. In fact, it wasn’t just tradition, it was survival.

Easier to Buy Seeds?

Over this past few decades, many had found that it’s easier to buy seeds than to save and store them. It does take time to patiently harvest, label, and properly store seeds. So with the ready availability of inexpensive seeds, plus lots of interesting new hybrids to try, more often than not people haven’t been saving seeds.

The result is that a lot of seed preservation knowledge has been lost to many people. However many today are getting back into the tradition of harvesting, storing and saving seeds and the sales of heirloom seeds are steadily climbing. Especially now.

“Heirloom seeds” averaged 27,100 monthly internet searches in September of 2020, and just 8,100 in September of 2019. That’s a 235% increase in interest in heirloom seeds in just one year’s time!!

SEED SAVING AND STORING SEEDS. "Heirloom seeds" averaged 27,100 monthly internet searches in September of 2020, and just 8,100 in September of 2019. #SeedSaving #HowToSaveSeeds #HeirloomSeeds #GardensAll #SeedStorage #StoringSeeds
Photo by Eco Warrior Princess on Unsplash

Another Reason to Harvest and Save Your Seeds

With the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, garden seed companies experienced a sudden onslaught of orders. The largest companies were mostly able to carry on. Many smaller seed companies had to close altogether. The seed companies that remained open experienced extended delays in order fulfillment.

So while it’s takes extra time and space to harvest and store seeds, it’s an important hedge against dire times, and we’ve all heard that warning bell.

Vegetable garden seed storing is preparedness survival insurance.

The Best of the Old Plus Some New Seeds

You don’t have to be a breeder or own a plant nursery to save your own seeds. Seed savers 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 speckled skin.

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

Garden metaphor: Seeds are to gardeners what words are to writers.... #GardenMetaphor #WritersMetaphor #GardenWriter #SeedsAnalogy #GardensAll
Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay 

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.

  • Save seeds from healthy plants, non-hybrid plants.
  • Dry seeds before storing them
  • Store in a a glass jar in a cool, dry place.

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

The Art of Seed Saving is Simple. #SeedSaving #HowToSaveSeeds #HeirloomSeeds #GardensAll #SeedStorage #StoringSeeds

The complete guide, vegetable seed saving

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

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 even 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’d end up taking those partly-empty seed packets and storing seeds stuffed in a Mason 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!

FAVORITE GARDEN APP - The Garden Planner Pro is Coleman's garden planning canvas. He loves how it evolves with the seasons and each year is easily built upon and adjusted for new additions. #GardenPlanner #GardenApp #GardeningPlan
Garden plan example from the app company. See the GardensAll garden plan here.

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

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

YOU KNOW THIS IS TRUE! Plant lovers and gardeners... #PlantLovers #Gardeners #GardenMemes #PlantQuotes
Drosera Capensis – Cape Sundew Plant – Image by TheUjulala from Pixabay

How to Properly Store Seeds at Home

Containers for Seed Storage Can Be Airtight Containers of:

  • Glass, such as mason jars
  • Envelopes – (best stored in envelopes within another more air tight container)
  • Locking bags
  • Plastic containers with secure lids
  • Clay vessels, (although best if more air tight)

The most important part is keeping seeds cool, dry, and dark – the big three rules to remember in proper seed storage. If you’re in a humid are like we are in North Carolina, it may serve to use silicon dehumidifier packets. You can add them to your container of seeds as well as any outer container for double protection.

We save the silicon packets that come in with other things, such as supplements, or you can buy them online. Include these in your seed storage container or seed storage area to help absorb dampness.

3 Rules of Seed Storage — Keep Seeds:

  1. cool
  2. dry
  3. dark
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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).[1]

Remember to label your seeds properly with name and date!

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

Freezing Seeds

Excerpted from Suzanne Ashworth’s book, Seed to Seed

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.[2]

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

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Let’s keep on Growing!


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