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Tips for Storing Seeds – Short and Long Term

What do You do with the Leftover Seeds?

Around here, we hardly plant all the seeds that come in the packets, except maybe corn and peas. Our usual MO has been to take those part-empty seed packets, stuff them in a Mason jar, and put the jar in the fridge where it often remains for months because we went out and bought six packs of plants at the local garden store… impatient to see growing things here. ?

So this year we’re also using the Garden Planner Pro app for garden planning and loving it! It allows you to easily change things as needed and 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.

So after years of creating garden plans by hand, we’re loving nifty this tool!


This year, by gosh, will be different. We’re gonna grow almost everything from seed! Well… maybe buy a few six packs of marigolds. 🙂 So in keeping with our intent, here are some helpful notes about seeds and how to keep them viable.

As usual, we’re always interested to know what you (our garden friendlies) do to keep your seed ready to germinate.1)


Storage for Short Term (3 years or less)

How to Properly Store Seeds at Home

Excerpted from

Appropriate containers for seed storage are similar to the donations we receive: glass containers, 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 cool, dry and dark!


Seeds are embryos encased in a womb shell, or, as the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center explains, “A seed is a plant in a box with its lunch.” Because seeds are alive, they’ll inevitably lose viability as environmental factors are wont to encroach. 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 seed’s viability.

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

By keeping seeds in a steady-state environment, you reduce the chance of them going through environmental peer pressure; they’ll continue to remain viable and well-adjusted. Still, 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.

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). Or, if you really want to hedge your bets, properly storing seeds in the freezer may keep them alive and waiting for years and years. Just remember to let the entire container of frozen seeds acclimate to warmer temperatures before opening the package. Also, always label your seeds properly!2)


Storing Long Term (>3 Years)

via Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth


Seeds of all species can be stored for many years with almost no loss of germination and only minimal loss of vigor when dried to about 8% seed moisture sealed into an airtight container and frozen. Seed stored using these techniques will maintain their vitality for up to 10 times longer than normal germination rates.

How to Test Seed Moisture

Freezing does not hurt seeds that have been dried to moisture levels of 8% or less. If the seeds are not thoroughly dry however, the excess moisture expands when frozen and will rupture the cell walls. A quick and easy test is that seeds will break instead of bending when folded, if their moisture level is 8% or less. Also, hard shell seeds, such as beans or corn, will shatter instead of mashing when placed on concrete and struck with a hammer.3)

The awesome Teca Thomson of Farm to Table, walks you through freezing seeds in this video. 4)

For information  and a listing of the best seed companies check out this article.


BOOKS on Amazon:

Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth
The Urban Farmer by Curtis Allen Stone
The Market Gardener by Jean-Martin Fortier

PRODUCTS on Amazon: 
Organic Seeds on Amazon

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