One of the joys of gardening is watching life spring forth from a tiny seed. Often, gardeners are left with more seeds than they can use in one season. Fortunately, with proper storage, many seeds can be saved and planted in subsequent seasons. This guide by Hart Seed is here to ensure that the vitality and vigor of your seeds are maintained, ensuring successful planting come springtime.
Why Store Seeds?
Storing seeds allows gardeners to save money and time. It also ensures that they have a supply of their favorite plants ready for next season. Moreover, some heirloom varieties may be difficult to find year after year, so saving seeds ensures continuity.
Factors that Affect Seed Longevity:
- Moisture: High humidity or wet conditions can lead to mold growth, which can destroy seeds.
- Temperature: Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can reduce seed viability.
- Light: Prolonged exposure can decrease seed longevity.
- Air: Seeds stored in airtight conditions tend to last longer.
Steps to Properly Store Seeds for Spring Planting:
- Drying the Seeds: Before storing, ensure that your seeds are thoroughly dry. Lay them out on a paper towel for a few days in a warm, dry location. This prevents mold growth during storage.
- Packaging: Use envelopes or small glass jars for storage. Clearly label each with the seed variety and the date of collection. For extra protection against moisture, you can add a packet of silica gel or a tablespoon of powdered milk wrapped in tissue.
- Temperature Control: The ideal storage temperature for most seeds is between 32°F and 41°F. Many gardeners use their refrigerators. If you choose this route, place the seeds in an airtight container to protect against potential moisture from the appliance.
- Darkness: Store seeds in a dark location, as light can decrease seed longevity.
- Check Seeds Periodically: It’s a good idea to check your seeds every few months. Look for signs of mold or any pests that might have found their way into your storage.
Testing Seed Viability:
Before planting season, you may want to test the viability of your seeds, especially if they’ve been stored for a few years. To do this:
- Place about 10 seeds on a wet paper towel.
- Fold the towel and place it in a plastic bag.
- Store in a warm location.
- Check after 5-10 days. If most of the seeds have sprouted, they’re still viable.
With careful storage, your seeds can retain their vitality for several seasons. Always remember to consider the four key factors: moisture, temperature, light, and air. By ensuring that your seeds are stored in optimal conditions, you can look forward to a bountiful and beautiful spring planting!
Courtesy of Hart Seed – Nurturing Gardens for Generations.