Seeds forum: Seed Storage

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Name: Danielle
Calgary, AB, Canada - Zone 3a
gardendreamer
Jan 20, 2011 6:27 PM CST
If I have forgotten my seeds outside in my non heated garden shed, would they be ok to use this spring?
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Jan 20, 2011 7:24 PM CST

Moderator

Yes, they should be fine, as long as they're dry.

Karen
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
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Joannabanana
Jan 21, 2011 2:02 PM CST
gardendreamer is in Calgary and it has dipped to -30C, which is -22F this season. some seeds may not have been affected, but the best way to check is test germination of say 4 seeds in a damp paper towel
Name: Danielle
Calgary, AB, Canada - Zone 3a
gardendreamer
Jan 21, 2011 2:28 PM CST
Thanks Joanne, I should figure out how to add that information for others to see
Thanks for the tip and I will try that out.
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
Jul 18, 2011 1:45 AM CST
I agree that "dry" is the most important thing for long-term seed storage.

I read about a cheap way to tell whether the inside of a seed jar or box is good and dry. Keep a few strips of newspaper in each jar or bag. If the newspaper is dry enough to crackle when bent and folded, it is quite dry.

If it flops round limply and silently when you finger it, it isn't very dry.

You can also buy humidity-indicating strips for 25 cents, or a one-dollar strip that has different indicating dots for 10%, 30%, 50% and so on.

Seeds "should" be stored well below 30% relative humidity, based on what I read, and I've seen 5%, 8% and "less than 10%" reccomended.

Corey
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
Jul 18, 2011 1:54 AM CST
I store my seeds with a little dessicant, in screw-lid plastic tubs that used to hold two pounds of peanuts or peanut butter.

I put 2 tablespoons of silica gel (used for drying flowers) into a paper coin envelope and staple it shut so it doesn't leak out. One coin envelope of silica gel keeps one tub dry for months if I don't open it too often in humid weather.

My silica gel is much too fine to put into organza bags: the dusty part sifts right through it. But humidity passes freely through paper.

When a packet has absorbed too much water, the blue "10%" indicator dot turns pink, and the 30% dot starts to change color. Then I replace that tub's coin envelope with a fresh one full of dry dessicant.

When my pound-and-a-half of silica gel has all been used up, I'll pour all the coin envelopes out into a shallow metal pan and bake it around 400-450 F for several hours to regenerate it, then seal it tightly and use it again. I expect this batch to last me some years, keeping 6 - 8 tubs of seeds dry in the Pacific NorthWet.

If I trusted my oven to stay over 400 but under 451 F, I might try leaving the silica inside the paper envelopes while drying them, but I would expect to scorch or char the paper and glue (and melt the scotch tape that's on some of the envelopes).

The silica gel only cost me $7-8 at a craft store in the "dried flower" section. It was cheaper than "Drierite" and it seems to last longer, as if it had greater drying capacity.

If you have a choice, a coarse grade might be better than fine, to reduce the amount of silica dust while you're pouring it into or out of paper envelopes. The fine, dusty grade is so potent that it dries a tub right down below 10% in just a few hours, so "coarse" should be good enough.

The silica "gel" has the consistency of fine, dusty sand whether it's fully dry or pretty hydrated.

Corey
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
Oct 12, 2011 4:42 PM CST
In the last few months, I heard about using dry rice as a seed dessicant. You can even mix it in with the seeds and pull it out later with a seive!

You can make a more powerfull dessicant or "regenerate" the rice by baking it in a shallow pan and sealing it tightly in glass jars while still hot.

I tried to get an estimate of "how hot?" but all I got was was "you don't want it to get brown" and "bake it longer, rather than hotter".

My guess is around 250 F.

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