Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Saving Seeds - Part 1

Saving seeds is a great way to save money in gardening. Right?

Saving seeds can mean different things. I have received numerous questions about saving seeds. And I'll address the two ways to save seeds today and tomorrow.

Here is the first question.

We usually do not have space to plant every seed in the packet. What do we do with the rest of the seeds?  - Margo

Good question. Buying seeds instead of plants is a great way to save money. For example, a pack of zucchini seeds will give you 20 or 30 zucchini plants, for the same amount of money that you would purchase one or two zucchini plants.

But if I can only use one or two zucchini plants and the rest of the packet of seeds goes to waste, I haven't saved any money.

Thankfully, many seeds are good for several years. I will even buy a larger pack of seeds then I need because it reduces the cost to purchase a larger amount in most mail order catalogs. A half a pound of beans seeds cost less per unit than a small pack of 100 beans seeds. I purposely plan to use the seeds for several years.

But unless seeds are stored properly, they will lose their vigor and not germinate well. And no money is saved.

The key to seed storage is cool and dry. If you store your seeds in a warm, humid environment, they will rapidly decrease their life span. Seeds also do better if their temperature and moisture content does not vary much.

Do your best to keep your seeds dry. That means not letting your seeds lay out by the garden overnight to collect the dew. (Yeah, I've done that.) Carry your seeds to the garden in a bucket to keep them off the damp earth and get them back indoors quickly. If they do become damp, dry them well in a sunny spot, but they may have already become damaged.

Store them in the coolest place you can manage. A cool bedroom closet or basement (as long as it is not damp) can work well. Some gardeners keep their seeds successfully in an air-tight container in their refrigerator.

My mother-in-law keeps her seeds in the freezer. I liked that idea better than the fridge, because fridge space is in high demand. Since my mother-in-law has grown her own plants from seeds for more years than I've been alive, and has beautiful gardens to prove her green thumb, I have followed her advice. I have had great germination rates for numerous years with the seeds that I've kept in the freezer. I try not to fluctuate the seeds temperature any more than necessary, only removing the seeds I need, and placing them back in the freezer as soon as possible.

Another reason to store your seeds in an air-tight container is the four-legged friends. One year I placed my bag of garden seeds in my cool, dry basement. When I had prepared the soil and wanted to plant garden, I found that the mice had gotten into the bag and eaten all the sunflower and corn seeds! I had to take a quick trip to the garden center before I could finish planting the garden.

Do you keep seeds from year to year? Where do you keep your seeds?

Next time...another aspect of seed saving.


  1. Thank you for answering my question! I never know if "cool and dry" means refrigeration or WHAT. So we will try the freezer - thanks again for the help.

  2. Yes, I keep my extra seeds in our pumphouse - a cool, small building that houses our water system, freezers, and my canning since I don't have a cold room. I keep seeds in the packages they came in, along with seeds of my own that I have gathered, and I keep those in small paper bags or used envelopes, or even tiny jars or old pill bottles. It all gets piled into a cardboard box! It is interesting to hear what you do - thanks! Shauna

  3. Yes, I freeze mine too and have never had any problems. I am getting so excited to get in our garden, but winter keeps hanging on. Happy gardening!

  4. Many times when I do buy seeds I buy them after the main spring planting season when many seed companies put them on sale. I like to store mine in glass jars. From there they go in my cool, dark dry pantry. I don't freeze my seeds mostly because freezer space is usually at a premium and I usually use my seeds in a year or two.

  5. hello gina
    thanks for the great information!!!
    greetings from germany,


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