Vegetables and Fruit forum: Storing Unused Veggie Seeds

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Name: Linda
New Harmony, Utah (Zone 5b)
lindaboom
Jan 10, 2012 5:08 PM CST
I'm new to vegetable gardening and appreciate all the advice I can get. My question is (please don't laugh too hard) can unused tomato and sweet pepper seeds be stored and grown at a later date? If they can.... what is the proper storage method?

Thanks,
Linda

The WITWIT Badge Mules Forum moderator
Patti1957
Jan 10, 2012 5:26 PM CST
I store mine in zip lock baggies and store the baggies in plastic tubs in my spare room. Some people store seeds in the refrigerator, but a cool dark place will work. If I stored my seeds in the fridge we would not have room for food Smiling Both tomato and pepper seeds store very well.


Name: Linda
New Harmony, Utah (Zone 5b)
lindaboom
Jan 10, 2012 5:30 PM CST
Patti1957,
Thank you.....thank you......thank you!!!!
Linda

The WITWIT Badge Mules Forum moderator
Patti1957
Jan 10, 2012 5:40 PM CST
Your welcome Linda! Smiling


Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (Zone 5a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member Region: Indiana Dog Lover Container Gardener
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mom2goldens
Jan 10, 2012 9:18 PM CST
Linda....many seeds will be viable for years. Just be sure to keep them dry, and not in an overly-warm environment. Ziplock bags, rubbermaid/tupperware containers are all good for storage.

If you ever want to check germination before planting, just put a few seeds into a moist paper towel, then stick the whole thing into a ziplock bag to keep it moist. Keep it somewhere fairly warm, and you'll be able to see if you seeds sprout in the paper towel. If they do, your seeds are good to plant!
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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pod
Jan 10, 2012 11:16 PM CST
I've had good luck and excellent germination by storing my seed stash in the freezer.
Name: Linda
New Harmony, Utah (Zone 5b)
lindaboom
Jan 11, 2012 2:42 PM CST
Thanks everyone for the great info. You guys really make everything much easier to understand.

Linda
Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
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Horseshoe
Jan 14, 2012 8:07 PM CST
Welcome to the site, Linda...

And I agree, store seeds in an airtight container (storage/freezer bags; tight-sealing jars, etc) and keep from being exposed to excessive heat. I store mine in bags and/or jars and keep in the fridge or freezer for longest term storage. (I had sweet corn from 1994 that had near 100% germination two years ago that had been frozen.)

Have fun gardening!
Shoe
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
Jan 18, 2012 2:18 AM CST
I don't have any evidence that keeping them extra dry makes them last any longer, but I bought a pound of silica gel (for drying flowers). I keep a litle paper packet of silica gel as a dessicant inside the plastic peanut-butter jar where I store pepper and tomato seeds ... in the fridge.

Necessary? Probably not, since so many people have good success just drying them first, and then storing them sealed. But it reassures me.

And the humidity indicator cards show that the silica gel IS keeping the humidity lower than it would be otherwise. It shows the RH as around 10-15% when I've changed the desicant bag recently, and it takes an hour or two to reduce it from around 30% when the jar has been open a while.

One bag lasts 4-8 minths, depending on how often I open the jar. And you can regenerate the silica gel by baking for a while, at 260 F.

Some people use dry rice, baked extra-dry, as a gentle dessicant. Bake it not-quite-brown-yet.

Everyone else was giving good, simple, practical advice, so I had to contribute some unecessary complexity! The only practical aspect is: get them GOOD and dry before sealing them up or freezing them.

When I asked a local Master Gardener about dessicating seed for storage, she hadn't heard of the idea. When she consulted with her buddies, their consensus was that, if seed was dry enough to snap or crunch when you bent or crushed it, it was "dry enough".

If you ever manage to get a seeds internal humidity down to zero, you would kill it.

P.S. Another way to tell how dry your jar of seed is, is to store a piece of newsprint inside. After a few weeks, if it feels limp, it may not be dry enough. If it is crisp or brittle, it is plenty dry.



Name: Linda
New Harmony, Utah (Zone 5b)
lindaboom
Jan 21, 2012 5:25 PM CST
RickCorey - Thanks for the info re: drying the seeds. I'm such a "newby" that I didn't even realize the seeds needed to be dried prior to storage. Do I just spread them out on a paper towel and let them air dry for a period of time? My inquiring mind wants to know.
Thanks,
Linda
Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
And in the end...a happy beginning!
Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Garden Sages I sent a postcard to Randy! I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
For our friend, Shoe. Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Enjoys or suffers cold winters Birds Permaculture Container Gardener
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Horseshoe
Jan 21, 2012 5:34 PM CST
You'd be better off drying seeds on wax paper or waxed paper plates. Fresh seed tends to stick to paper towels and you'll spend forever and a day pulling each one off so you can bag them. Ugh.

Your first post asked about "unused" seed. I take that to mean you have some purchased seed packs and wanted to save the seeds you didn't sow, right? If that is what you are saving those are fine to save as is..unless they got wet or were stored in a high humidity environment I'm sure you can just leave them in their packs, put the packs in a jar and then fridge.

Shoe
Name: Linda
New Harmony, Utah (Zone 5b)
lindaboom
Jan 22, 2012 11:00 AM CST
Shoe - Yes the seeds I have are all in packets. I am far...far...far from saving seeds from plants I've grown. Your info makes everything "easy peasy". Hooray!!!!
Thanks,
Linda
Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
And in the end...a happy beginning!
Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Garden Sages I sent a postcard to Randy! I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
For our friend, Shoe. Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Enjoys or suffers cold winters Birds Permaculture Container Gardener
Image
Horseshoe
Jan 22, 2012 12:22 PM CST
Great to hear.

Now you can feel like you have this years garden already started, you have the seeds! Ta-dahh!

Happy Day to ya!
Shoe
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
Jan 23, 2012 1:16 PM CST
Shoe is right, but I've had good luck with seeds on coffee filters. I do move them around as they dry, so they don;t stick. Also, my saved seeds are usually wet with rain, not plant juices, and that may make them less sticky. But I never tried paper towels.

And seriously: very few people bother with any dessicant inside the jars.

Another quirk I picked up from reading: try to avoid setting a packet of seeds down on wet surfaces or muddy soil. It will absorb water, bugs may crawl in, and mud may contain mold or spores. If you're going to put an envelope back into a jar with your entire stash of saved seeds, it must be dry, and probably should be pretty clean, so it doesn't encourage mold.

Probably few people worry about that either, but I usually decide how much I want to sow before going outside, and put that much into a Ziplock or envelope that I don't mind getting wet and dirty.

I also usually make a plastic marker for each variety I'm going to sow, before going outdoors, because I KNOW I will forget which is where within minutes.




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