The Q&A Archives: Old Seed And Storage

Question: In my local seed store, they have last year's seed for 1/2 price. How long should seed be good for?

Answer: Storage life of vegetable seed varies significantly between vegetable species. Storage conditions also affect the length of time seeds remain viable.

Ideally, vegetable seed should be stored in a refrigerator in an air tight container such as a quart jar. Placing a moisture absorbing silica packet in the jar is also beneficial.

The following vegetables are listed with their general storage life under ideal conditions:

5 years or more: beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, kohlrabi, chicory, escarole, radicchio, cucumber, kale, lettuce, melons, mustard, peppers, radish, rutabaga, sunflower, tomato, and turnip.

3+ years: beans, carrot, celery, chard, eggplant, parsley, peas, pumpkin, salsify, and squash.

1-2 years: corn, leek, onion, parsnip, and spinach.

If the storage conditions were less than ideal (warm temperatures, high humidity) the seed viability could be decreased significantly. And, even if they sprout, weak seeds can make for weak plants that lag in both vigor and productivity.

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