Do you have leftovers from this year’s planting and want to learn how to store vegetable seeds?
Saving leftovers is a great way to stock up for next year’s garden.
It saves you money, but it also ensures that you’ll have the types of vegetables you want to plant.
There are many ways to store leftover vegetable seeds, but not all methods are created equal. In this blog post, I will discuss the best ways to keep your excess seed stock to stay viable and ready to plant when the time comes!
The Disappointment of Not Storing Vegetable Seeds Correctly
We’ve all been through that: We save leftover seeds from our gardens over the winter because we gardeners are frugal and don’t want to waste seeds. As spring arrives, excitedly we plant them, anxiously waiting for the appearance of sprouts, And then we wait some more.
Finally, we realize that the seeds we’ve been saving aren’t going to sprout, and so we start our gardening season on a disappointing note and are now behind schedule.
All because we didn’t store them properly!
Start with Completely Dry Seeds
Starting with dry seeds is essential!
One of my favorite seeds to grow is coriander (cilantro). However, I always wait a few weeks after rain before harvesting, and I let the seeds dry out for up to three months before storing them.
The two greatest enemies to stored seeds are high temperatures and high moisture. If you’ve saved your seed, be sure that they’re thoroughly dried before storage.
The best conditions for storing seeds are cool, dark, and dry.
Seeds need airtight containers to keep them fresh. They can be glass, metal, or plastic. My seeds are stored in sealed envelopes in a large plastic container.
However, I also use Mason jars but trust myself less than the soil mix. It’s scary when I think about dropping and shattering glass in the garden.
Ensure that you can find and use those well-stored seeds!
Keeping your seeds organized helps you keep track of what seeds you have so you don’t buy seeds you already own. You can also keep track of your seeds so that older seeds get used first and expired ones get composted instead of planted.
There are two ways that I like to organize seeds. One way is by using a card catalog system, and another way is by using a mason jar system.
Your storage system will largely depend on your lifestyle and environment, but regardless of which type you choose, be sure that it is an airtight system that keeps seeds dry and cold.
Organizing seeds using the card catalog-style
Do you remember when libraries had card catalogs?
Use a rectangular airtight container deep enough to hold seed packets standing upright. Make sure the lid closes tightly when full. This method works well because all the seeds are kept together in one container.
Plastic meal-prep containers like these work well.
If you don’t have the packets or want to be a little more organized, place your seeds in neatly labeled stationery envelopes with the year bought and the variety of seeds written on them.
Dividers can help you find things faster if stored in a larger box. Seeds of a particular species can be categorized by their origin date, so older seeds are used first.
Or you can also sort them by planting month, but this makes it harder to find them by name.
A plastic shoebox turns into an organizational system for seeds.
Organize seeds using mason jars
Mason jars, either large or small, allow you to store seeds in smaller units than standard containers. For example, you can store short-lived seeds for the winter in the freezer so they can be viable when the weather warms up again. Longer-lived seeds can be stored in a cupboard or under the bed.
Depending on your storage needs and the number of seeds you’re storing, how you organize your Mason jars may vary.
You can also use a mason jar to store different seed varieties from the same plant family. For example, you could put all your brassica seeds in one jar (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.) and all your root vegetable seeds in another (beets, carrots, radishes, etc.).
If you’re a fan of tomatoes, keep all of your tomato varieties in one Mason jar.
This is a great way to organize if you have a lot of seed varieties or if you want to be able to grab a whole bunch of seed packets at once without having to search through everything.
Store seeds in the freezer for long-term storage
If you want to store seeds for more extended periods, freeze them completely dry in a glass jar. If you don’t have a freezer, place the jar in a cool, dark cabinet. The refrigerator is second best because the temperature isn’t as consistent there.
To get started, you’ll need to keep the containers in an area where they’ll be protected from direct sunlight but not too cold or too hot. A basement closet works great. Keeping them in darkness, seeds tend not to germinate if they see the light.
To recover seeds from your freezer for use
If you store your seeds in the freezer, take out the jar and put it on a kitchen table or countertop for 12 hours, so it reaches room temperature. This will keep moisture from condensing on your seeds. (Remember, water = enemy #1!)
Before sowing, you can expose the seeds to air by keeping the lid open for days.
Avoid moving seeds from the freezer to room temperature more than once. Each time you move them, they will lose some viability.
How long will my seeds still be viable?
Seed storage is a tricky topic, and it depends upon what kind of seeds you’re storing and the conditions they’re kept in.
Annual flower seeds can be stored for up to 3 years in optimal storage conditions without significant degradation if kept at temperatures below 50°F (10°C). Perennials can last up to 4 years.
Vegetable seeds last for years. It’s harder to establish, and it might have to do with natural oil in the seeds. The greener the seed, the less likely the oils will go rancid, and your seed will be more likely to succeed.
In conclusion, there are many ways to store your leftover vegetable seeds for planting next year. It is vital to find a storage method that works best for you and your lifestyle.
Keep your seeds dry, cold, and in an airtight container to ensure the most extended lifespan possible.
With a little bit of planning, you can enjoy fresh vegetables from
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