How long will my seeds last? (Suggestions for Storing Seeds)
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Seed Storage Boxes
That's a tough question to answer because some plants have seeds that will remain viable years and years, and some plants have seed that will be viable for a much shorter time, perhaps just a year or two. Plant varieties are genetically different and Mother Nature controls this aspect.
So, we have to look at the question differently, and maybe even ask it differently. Let's change the question to:
What can I do to make my seeds last as long as they can?
There's several ways to do this. We must first assure that the seeds are ripe when we collect them and have been allowed to dry in an open and well ventilated area, the moisture will slowly evaporate from them.
For some simple and general information on harvesting and drying seeds please see the Seed Saving Forum FAQ called:
"Saving your own seeds is easy to do!"
How can I store my seeds after they've been dried?
There are many favorite methods. The most important aspects of seed storage is to assure that they're consistantly dry and away from severe fluctuations of heat.
I store my seeds in cardboard file boxes. I even have alpha-sort cards in them so I can organize the seeds alphabetically....you could also use shoe-boxes for the same purpose, they work great and it's an excellent way to recycle too! I keep four boxes for my seeds, a box each for: Annuals, Perennials, Vines, and Veggies and Trees and Bushes. I keep the boxes on a shelf in my house. The room has a comfortable temperature all year round, and the shelf is out of direct sun. Any sunlight streaming through the windows won't fall directly on the boxes and their contents won't heat inside from the warming sunshine.
Some of my seed-saving friends keep their seeds in recycled popcorn tins. These are very colorful and they have a tight fitting lid. After you eat the popcorn do wash the container and it's lid inside and out with hot soapy water. Rinse it well and dry it thoroughly. Any moisture left inside the can could foster rotting of the seeds, and it might cause the can to rust too ;-(
They place their packets of seeds in zip bags, squeeze out as much air as they can, and zip them shut. Their seeds are organized bag by bag by their own preferences. The can goes out of direct light for storage. Place it in a closet, or under a table skirt, or up on a shelf....anywhere that it won't get fluctuating heat and won't be in direct sunshine streaming through a window.
Another friend places his seeds in plastic boxes with tight fitting lids and stores them in the refrigerator. The refrigerator does not have fluctuating temperatures and the light only goes on when he's snacking or cooking ;-)
Can I use something with my stored seeds to help absorb any moisture from the air that might linger in the container when I go into it for a pack of seeds?
Yes you can! I use packets of silica gel and toss a few into each file-box of seeds I have. (They can go into baggies or tins or plastic boxes too.)
Where do I get the silica packets?
I save mine whenever I get a freebie pack. Sometimes when you buy shoes, or a wallet, or a handbag there's a pack of silica gel with the item to help absorb moisture. Another excellent freebie source is in vials of prescription drugs.
Can I buy Silica Gel packets too? Yes you can! Ask for silica gel at luggage stores and shoe shops. Generally, wherever good leather products are sold you can find silica gel for sale too.
I hope this FAQ has been informative and that your seeds last for a very long time!