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How to Store Seeds


by Denis Matthews March 25, 2018

One of the most rewarding times in your gardening journey is to watch a tiny seed begin to germinate. One of the most frustrating is to wait, and wait, and wait but nothing ever happens. Did you store your seed correctly? Has it actually died? Have you had them too long? There are many things that can impact your success and in this blog I will talk about the best way I have found to keep my seeds in top shape and thus increase the chance of something happening.

Seeds DO NOT last forever...

There are 3 main factors which affect a seeds ability to germinate, or not...

Light, heat and moisture

If you take these 3 elements away the majority of seed varieties will remain dormant for considerable periods of time and give you a better chance of germination when you "wake them up". Unfortunately there is no way of telling if a stored seed is actually dead and we will occasionally have to find out the hard way. If you discover that a certain variety is failing to germinate, starts to grow but quickly falls over, or is extremely slow growing and weak, then you may need to replace them with fresh seeds. Fortunately if you are using grow cubes to start you seedlings you can simply pop fresh seeds straight in the failed hole and use again.

The best way to remove light, heat and moisture is to

store your seed collection in the fridge - it's cool, it's dark and it's, well almost dry...

There are a number of ways to do this and probably the the most successful way is to keep in their original package and place inside a sealed container. To reduce any moisture, place some rice in a paper bag and sit in the container as well. The rice should naturally absorb any moisture. You can also use milk powder (or those little gel bags you get with your new shoes etc) as this will have the same effect as rice. When removing the container for use be careful to allow it to warm to room temperature before taking the lid off. This is to avoid a condensation build up inside. 

Another method is to store your seed packets in a sealed plastic bag instead of a container. Once again, throw in some type of absorbent material to suck up any moisture. I use both techniques and can't tell any difference one way or the other. In fact I have some seeds still growing well after 5+ years but this depends on where you got them in the first place, how long before you stored in the fridge and more importantly, what variety they are.

DO NOT FREEZE your seeds as this is likely to kill them very fast if not done correctly. I tried this once and you guessed it - never again...

To learn how to germinate your seeds in grow cubes check out our video here 

By following this simple method you should get prolonged use from your common herb and veggie seeds. You will probably find that they are still very usable even after the use by date has significantly passed.




Denis Matthews
Denis Matthews

Author

Denis is a QLD farmer and Founder of The Salad Table



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