Friday, January 28, 2011

Seed Storage

In case anyone was wondering, this is how I store my seeds. I put them in tupperware with tight-fitting lids or freezer-quality Ziploc bags, and store them in the back of my refrigerator year-round. (Well, that's how I usually do it. The unsealed sandwich bag at the bottom happened during a fit of pure laziness after I planted my birdbath garden last fall.) Some people also bake packets of desiccant and put them in to absorb moisture. (You know, those little paper pouches that come in purses and suitcases with the tiny-print advice not to eat them despite the extraordinary temptation.) Stored this way, protected from heat, moisture, and light, most seeds will last for 3-5 years.

There are exceptions: onion seeds are only supposed to last for one year, even under good storage conditions. But I have heard this said about spinach and parsley seeds as well, and I've stored them for multiple seasons with good results. Most gardeners agree that it is not worth wasting good gardening weather on bad seeds just to save a few bucks, so if you have some doubt about whether your seeds will be good or not (for example, if you have stored your seeds in an unsealed sandwich bag) you can do a germination test. Just put a bunch of seeds in a baggie with a moist paper towel, then either cover or expose to light, depending on the needs of the seed, and wait to see how many germinate. Keep in mind that some seeds (for example, carrots) can take several weeks to germinate, so you should start this process a couple months before planting time, to give yourself time to order more if needed.

Hey! Isn't science fun?

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