ATP Podcast #96: Storing Seeds: Michigan Fruit Tree Company No-No's

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ATP Podcast #96: Storing Seeds

By dave
September 16, 2015

In this episode Trish shares her best tips on how to properly store and organize your seeds.

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Name: Dnd
SE Michigan (Zone 6a)
Dog Lover Daylilies Organic Gardener Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1
I helped beta test the first seed swap
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DogsNDaylilies
Sep 15, 2015 7:16 PM CST
Dave, could you let us know which companies you were referring to when you said not to purchase fruit trees from some Michigan places (and a place in Georgia)? I'd be curious to know who to stay away from. If you can't state it 'publicly' on ATP, can you Tree-mail me?

(I purchased my fruit trees from two different companies that specialize in organic fruit trees in California, but I have considered fruit trees from a local nursery, too, and it would help to know who to steer clear of.)

Thank you for another great podcast! Big Grin
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Sep 16, 2015 7:49 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

I'll tree mail you. Smiling
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Sep 16, 2015 12:25 PM CST
I really enjoyed this podcast! Thumbs up

Years ago I was a bit fanatical about seed collecting ... if I was anywhere and saw a plant with seeds, I felt I needed to collect some! One fall @ 10 or 12 years ago when visiting my youngest niece at college, every time we walked around campus I found myself stopping here and there collecting seeds! I had to pack them in my suitcase for the plane ride back home and wondered what TSA folks would think if they went through my luggage and found all those envelopes with seeds. Green Grin!

For many years, I used regular letter size envelopes for seed storing but I'd always end up spilling them when I went to sow them so I decided to try to find a better method and I began using the smallest glass mason jars I could find ... but I'm a klutz and broken glass became an issue so again, I needed to find a better way. A few years ago another ATP member posted a tip about repurposing plastic medicine bottles for seed storage and it just clicked! So, I began saving plastic pill bottles and they work like a charm! I poke holes in the lids of the containers to allow good air circulation ... a lesson learned that from some of my seeds that got moldy one time. After drying the seeds on paper plates I put them in one of the little bottles and use a sharpie pen to label it with the plant name and date collected. Currently the little plastic bottles are stored in a cabinet drawer in the study and I need to take inventory soon to remind myself exactly what seeds I have.
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Dnd
SE Michigan (Zone 6a)
Dog Lover Daylilies Organic Gardener Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1
I helped beta test the first seed swap
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DogsNDaylilies
Sep 16, 2015 3:06 PM CST
dave said:I'll tree mail you. Smiling


Thanks! My curiosity is piqued, now. Whistling
Name: Reine
Porter, Texas (Zone 9a)
On the 3rd day God created plants.
Cactus and Succulents Houseplants Bee Lover Critters Allowed Frogs and Toads Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Seed Starter Region: Texas Dog Lover Container Gardener Spiders!
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Reine
Sep 19, 2015 7:17 PM CST
Great Podcast. Smiling

I'm new to seed collecting overall.

Last year l collected Mirabilis jalapa seeds, and not knowing any better, I put them in a plastic baggy. Sad

This year, as I collected seeds from various plants, I collected them into cups or small trays. But I haven't gotten around to packaging them yet. Now I feel confident about storing seeds.

Thank you for this valuable information. (I really like the paper plate with name on it idea).

Reine
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 8, 2015 6:25 PM CST
I enjoyed the podcast, especially the banter!

Dave, you mentioned that cheap two-mil Zip-Loc baggies tend to tear at the top. I agree about SOME cheap ones, but others that I've bought resist as well as those fancy-pants crystal clear 4-mil Excelsior Zippies.

I've even had good luck with 2 mil Wal-Mart Zip-Locs.

However, there is a way to open even the cheapest Zip-Locs without tearing them. The nice thing is that, after I practiced this trick that someone taught me (RisingCreek?) , it's faster and EASIER than grabbing each lip with thumb and fore-finger, then pulling them apart. And it's one-handed!

The hard part is describing it without video.

Dry your fignertips and make sure they aren't oily or greasy. You need some skin friction.
Put the zipper of the Zip-Loc between thumb and forefinger as if there was some crud that you had to rub off.
Put moderate pressure on the zipper, as if you were squeezing it shut.
That pressure will give you some friction between your fingers and the plastic.

Now rub your finger and thumb in opposite directions parallel to the zipper.
They only have to move about 1/2 inch.

If there's enough friction between plastic and finger, the two halves of the zipper will slide relative to each other.

Even 1/4" of movement will "pucker up" the lips of the baggie and pop the zipper partly open.
I think the technical term is using "shear force" instead of "pulling" apart.

Now pushing a finger or a funnel or even a slip of paper between the partly-open lips will open them the rest of the way.

When I'm dividing up harvested seeds or some big pkts of commercial seeds, I can open Zip-Locs with one hand while pushing labels or funnels in with the other hand.

This may be a new record for verbosity for me - two screenfulls of labored text to describe a half-inch finger movement!

P.S. I no longer store seeds in a freezer either. Not even the fridge. The only worse place that comes to mind is the crisper drawer - the MOST humid part of a fridge, and subject to siwngs in tmeperature and humidity every time you open it.

But when I did store in the fridge, the seeds themselves were double-bagged and then the double-bags were inside plastic jars with well-sealing lids. Every time I took a jar out of the fridge, I wiated for it to come ALL the way to room temp before opening the outer jar.

Even that would have made my seeds soggy, but I stored silica gel desiccant inside each jar so that when I put them into the cold, most room-air-humidity was grabbed by the silica gel before it could diffuse through two plastic Zip-Locs and contaminate my seeds.

I use the Kraft paper coin envelopes that you mentioned to hold a tablespoon or two of silica gel. I staple them closed so they don't leak dust. Since they are paper, humidity blows freely right through them.

The silica gel is exhausted pretty quickly unless you can seal it tight in glass and never open the jar. Humidity and oxygen can diffuse right THROUGH plastic, just slowly. Is that why you like the classy 4-mil baggies?

Humidity and oxygen diffuse through the "zipper" pretty quickly.

BTW, here are online places where I would buy more Zip-Locs. They have all sizes, including "tiny". And many colors. Look for "Apple Bags" to get as small as 3/8" x 3/8" and a whole rainbow of colors.

Oh, darn, the IT department at work, in their infinitesimal wisdom, have BLOCKED Clearbags.com.

FFFPPPTTT.




Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Oct 9, 2015 11:28 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

I'm familiar with that technique, Rick, and it is in fact the only way that I can open those cheap ones that I hate. It really does seem hit or miss and sometimes you get a good batch and sometimes you don't. These days I go ahead and buy them in bulk from Amazon and get good results. Thumbs up
Name: Dnd
SE Michigan (Zone 6a)
Dog Lover Daylilies Organic Gardener Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1
I helped beta test the first seed swap
Image
DogsNDaylilies
Oct 9, 2015 11:37 AM CST
dave said:I'm familiar with that technique, Rick, and it is in fact the only way that I can open those cheap ones that I hate. It really does seem hit or miss and sometimes you get a good batch and sometimes you don't. These days I go ahead and buy them in bulk from Amazon and get good results. Thumbs up


I bought some 2-mil bags from Amazon and I'm very pleased with them! Thumbs up After listening to your podcast, though, I thought I might upgrade to the 4-mil for the bags that I will use to send seeds to other people. I haven't used them yet, but the 4-mil does appear nice. I bought these at a great price: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003ZZUKQ6?psc=1&redirect=t...

For home use, though, I definitely don't see anything wrong with the 2-mil ones on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AFRWKRO?psc=1&redirect=t...
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Oct 9, 2015 4:05 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Yep, those are the exact ones I ordered myself from Amazon last year. A case of 1,000 lasts a long time. Smiling At about 1 cent per bag, it's a bargain, in my opinion.
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, 2015 12:50 PM CST
>> I might upgrade to the 4-mil for the bags that I will use to send seeds to other people.

I've done that myself, sometimes!

>> It really does seem hit or miss and sometimes you get a good batch and sometimes you don't.

I agree. It doesn't go strictly by price: some cheap ones are as good as the most expensive ones, and some cheap ones stink.
Name: Lacey
East Tennessee (Zone 7a)
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LADeWilde
Jan 12, 2016 4:21 PM CST
I assume that most of the ideas in this podcast are for large seeds. I deal mostly with gesneriad seeds which are almost as fine as dust particles. I store my seeds in white tissue paper, multifolded to produce a small 'pocket'. I gather my seeds on a white piece of white typing paper where I clean the seeds of chaff and debris. I then fold the piece of paper and pour the seed in the pocket and fold it close. The pocket is then placed in a 1-3/4" x 2-7/8" glassine enveloped like those used for stamps collections. The glassine envelope is then placed in a #3 coin envelope and labeled with the seed's name. The coin envelopes are then place in an air tight plastic container with a dessicant pack and stored in the bottom drawer of my frigde. Some of my seeds are over 14 years old and still as vialble as the day I collected them. I do agree the seeds should be very dry before storing. Lucky, with gesneriads, they usually dry thoroughly in the pod before they're even harvested. Smiling
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
Image
RickCorey
Jan 12, 2016 7:14 PM CST
LADeWilde said:I assume that most of the ideas in this podcast are for large seeds. I deal mostly with gesneriad seeds which are almost as fine as dust particles. I store my seeds in white tissue paper, multifolded to produce a small 'pocket'. I gather my seeds on a white piece of white typing paper where I clean the seeds of chaff and debris. I then fold the piece of paper and pour the seed in the pocket and fold it close. The pocket is then placed in a 1-3/4" x 2-7/8" glassine enveloped like those used for stamps collections. The glassine envelope is then placed in a #3 coin envelope and labeled with the seed's name. The coin envelopes are then place in an air tight plastic container with a dessicant pack and stored in the bottom drawer of my fridge. Some of my seeds are over 14 years old and still as viable as the day I collected them. I do agree the seeds should be very dry before storing. Lucky, with gesneriads, they usually dry thoroughly in the pod before they're even harvested. Smiling


Hi Lacey! Welcome to ATP.

I don't have any good method for 'dust-like seeds". Sometimes I put them into a bit of hand-folded and taped glasssine, or into a 1.5"x1.5" Ziploc. Then I put those inside a 2x3" Ziploc so there's room for a big label.

I applaud your system of wrapping seeds in paper (& glassine that is probably not sealed airtight), then placed with desiccant into a tightly sealed container. Your way, the seeds are well exposed to the desiccant, but the desiccant is sealed well against the humid external atmosphere.

That's better than my system where the seeds are divided into small samples (1/16th tsp to 1 TBLSPN) in sealed 2x3" Ziplocs. The only way humidity is sucked out of them is through the zipper and right through the 2 mil polyethylene film. In other words, very slowly. But that's OK with me: the only humidity that needs to be removed is water released slowly from seed metabolism, which is SLOW when the seed is dry (and cool, ideally).

And my small plastic Ziplocs prevent the air touching the seeds from zooming right to 50% when I open my plastic tubs.
And, when I open the tubs, there is not very much exposed paper to absorb humidity from the atmosphere and then release it into the silica gel after I reseal the lid.

I also like to think that my small Ziplocs protect the seeds from short periods of time (a few days) when fresh silica gel might briefly pull the RH below 15%. By the time enough humidity diffuses through the ZipLoc zipper to make the seeds reach 15% eRH, the silica gel has lost enough power that it no longer pulls the tub air below 15% RH.

(I like to think that, anyway. I rely on humidity-indicating cards to tell me when I'm getting some tub TOO dry, then I open the lid every few days until the silica gel gets "tired". Or I swap the "strong" silica gel pkt into a tub with lots of big seeds, and put "tired" silica gel into the tub that was getting too dry.)

Lacey, do you use any humidity-indicating gadget? Would you like a few humidity-indicating cards?
I think I may start offering these cards in seed swaps.

Thumb of 2016-01-13/RickCorey/48bb4f

https://secure.drierite.com/catalog3/page15b.cfm
http://www.uline.com/BL_1002/Humidity-Indicator

I guess the crisper drawer in a fridge maintains a steady, cool temperature when the fridge door opens and closes, and that is good. "Steady, cool temperature" is probably the second-most-important variable after keeping them steadily DRY.

As long as your plastic container is TIGHTLY sealed, the fact that the crisper drawer is the MOST humid part of a fridge would not matter.

Do you do anything beyond the coin envelope to protect them from light? I think "keep dark" is the third-most-important variable for long life. I don;t worry about light except to store them inside big cardboard boxes that block light well until I open the box. Then all bets are off.


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