Seed storage and handling

It has come to my attention this winter that I really don’t know enough about handling, storing and shipping seeds. I used to have a box of half used vegetable seeds when I was a kid that kept on the top shelf of the pantry and I’m not much ahead of that many years later. I would like to hear how others preserve their seeds.

I find the coolest, driest part of the house, then store them in ziplock bags, within a filing box. I add some dried milk as a desiccant to each ziplock. Obviously you could go super-over the top and store them in a sophisticated temperature and humidity controlled environment. But I’m not growing any irreplaceable heirloom seeds, either. The Svalbard global seed vault is the holy grail of seed preservation:

Find a tectonically dead island, where it never rains, and ice never melts, dig a hole in the ground, wrap your seeds in heat sealed tri-foil packets, and then make sure you keep the temp at -0.4 degrees indefinitely.

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I like the idea of using desiccant, hadn’t thought of that. So if I had the option of storing I the fridge or freezer , the freezer is preferable?

I just store them in wooden box in the fridge door. They dry out a lot there and need some time to soak back when you plant them, but they usually keep life in them beyond expected shelf life(not what is written on the package, but what you can find in the books or internet for different seeds. )

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Story of my life in a baker’s dozen of words!


Cool, dark, dry – wherever you can best provide that should work well without a lot of fuss. I keep my seed, sorted by type in paper bags, in a large tin in our pantry, temps range from 40 winter to 60 summer. They keep very well. It depends on the quality of seed you start with, of course, but if you get your seed from a reliable source it will last much longer than is usually stated (except for a few like onion and parsnip which are only viable for a few years)… I grow most of my own seed and have carrot and parsley that is almost ten years old and still good. Most seed is really quite hardy given reasonable care.

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I have a spare fridge that I have some scion wood in and I think I will put me a plastic box in it to store some seeds, I have some with little compartments in them for storing fishing tackle that may work perfect.

Depends some on your climate, but if you have spare freezer space that would likely do better for long term seed storage.

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I treat them like I would celery or lettuce in the 'fridg. They can get too dry, so if your 'fridg could turn unwrapped celery into limp-y stalks, then you should consider keeping seeds stored or wrapped in plastic.
Here is my Dollar store style. :grinning:

And I agree with Sue. Stored this way my seeds last much longer than ‘they’ say the seeds should.

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I do have freezer space, I wasn’t sure if cool temps would be better or freezing temps for long term.

I learned from several other experienced growers that the freezer was the place for long term storage. The seeds do have to be fully/properly dried, but if they are then freezer storage seems to work. I have onion seed which still germinates well after 8 yrs from the freezer, and 6 yr old tomato seeds from there. I let the seed come to room temp before planting.

I also double bag the seed in ziplocks. And I have not tried everything, but for tomatoes onions peppers, spinach and the other things I grow, freezer storage seems to work.

BTW, I have only used manual defrost freezers, the warming/cooling cycles of the auto defrost models may change your results (it does effect how long food lasts).

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Aren’t some of the long term seed storage facilities dug into the permafrost? These are the ones storing thousands of seed species to maintain genetic material.

Yes. Scroll up.

They probably pack them better than I do, lol.

I put my seeds into sealers, in with the seeds I put a little pouch of dry milk powder made with a breathable material like a coffee filter. I store them in my cold room.

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I like the idea of using milk powder to keep things dry. That’s a great tip