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Dry Saved Seeds in Paper Envelopes

By RickCorey
November 22, 2013

Save paper envelopes from bills and junk mail and dry your saved seeds and seed heads in envelopes instead of on paper plates. They take up less room and are less likely to spill.

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Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Nov 21, 2013 6:17 PM CST
Great tip Rick; I've been saving/storing seeds this way for a couple of years and it really works!
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Nov 21, 2013 7:01 PM CST
Thank you!

I don't remember who I learned it from, but it sure saves space and protects the seeds from my cat, and from me knocking the plate off the table.

I have a couple of other articles creeping along towards readability, about using desiccants to get seeds dryer than household air.

According to my little blue-pink humidity cards, and inside my house in my climate, the average jar of seeds stays around 50% relative humidity, which is barely enough for short-term storage. I wonder whether people who keep seeds viable for 10 years live in drier climates, or keep their houses warmer?
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Nov 21, 2013 7:27 PM CST
Very useful tip and saves money too so frugal. Thumbs up
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Nov 22, 2013 2:57 AM CST
That is a frugal tip! I tend to use brown paper lunch bags which I leave open for at least a month.
Then I roll them up enclosing the seeds, and save until planting time.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Nov 22, 2013 12:20 PM CST
Thanks very much, Carolyn and Rita!

>> ... brown paper lunch bags which I leave open for at least a month.
>> Then I roll them up enclosing the seeds,

That saves some time and makes it less likely that you'll lose the label or drop them on the rug while transferring them.

Paper bags must also handle really wet flower heads easier than my method. When I try to salvage seeds during "rainy season", even after pressing out all the water I can, I also let them dry totally open to air movement until they are at least dry-ish to the touch, before bundling them into paper envelopes.

I bought a bundle of "school lunch sack" paper bags, but I manly use those for sorting outgoing seed-trade packets. Sometimes I collect big, bushy plant limbs with seed pods in a big, grocery-store-size paper bag, or a big cardboard box.

But then I try to reduce the bulk so that the pods or seed-heads will fit into an envelope. Luckily, I get a few things in the mail in rather large envelopes, so I have some options.

I bet that humidity migrates even faster through thin Kraft paper bags than through glossy, heavy paper envelopes. And of course the open top of a paper bag allows total air circulation.

>> which I leave open for at least a month.

Yes! No matter how open a container is to humidity diffusion and air circulation, nothing can ever dry drier than the average humidity of the air it is exposed to. In my house that seems to be 50% RH (at least it is inside sealed seed jars).

And the speed of drying slows down to zero as the equilibrium RH of the seeds approaches the average RH of your household.

When I read that 50% RH is just "napping" for seeds, not "deep sleep" or "hibernation", I was sure that I needed desiccants if I wanted maximum viable lifetimes and rapid drying down to 15-30% RH. Of course, how many seeds do I save unused for more than 5 years and then have a burning desire for high germination rates? ... A few!

Frugal? I only feel frugal when I cut envelopes in half so I can have twice as many for free! And then I begrudge the Scotch tape on the cut edge!

P.S. I love envelopes with a clear glassine window. Then I can see my precious seeds while they sit on the table.
Name: Ann
Ottawa, ON Canada (Zone 5a)
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ViolaAnn
Nov 23, 2013 6:33 AM CST
I make small envelopes out of advertising flyers. I cut it into squares ranging from 5 to 8 or 9 inches, depending on how many seeds I will have. (Access to a paper cutter helps.) Fold the square in half diagonally. Fold down the centre tip on one side and then fold in the side points in thirds, tucking on inside the other. I generally secure it with a bit of tape at this point. Pour the seeds into the envelope and fold down the remaining flap. I secure it with tape. How much tape depends on how large the seeds are - more tape for tiny seeds that can slip out.

Later, once the seeds are really dry, I can put them into little ziplock plastic bags from the $ store. I collect a lot of hosta seeds.

Ann
Ann

Pictures of all my hostas, updated annually and tracked since 2008 begin at: https://violaann.smugmug.com/Garden/Hostas/Hostas-in-my-gard...
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Nov 25, 2013 11:35 AM CST
Ann, I totally agree with drying seeds in paper until they are really, really dry. Then the plastic Ziplocs are OK.

I usually store my Ziplocs full of seed inside plastic tubs, and keep some silica gel desiccant in the tub. That way, the very gradual diffusion of humidity through the Ziploc continues to pull humidity out of the seed, and they get down to 20-30% relative humisity instead of staying around 50% RH.

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