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  • Seed Storage

    Are there any new thoughts on seed saving?
    I was thinking of vacuum sealing in one of those food saver things but does that make sense? Should I wrap them in paper first to protect them from the light? Any other tips?

  • #2
    I am not an expert on this topic, but considering vacuum is what people use to completely dehydrate material, I would think that's not good for seeds.

    dcarch

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    • #3
      It just vacuums the air out of the bag. If anything, it would keep the existing moisture in.
      So if not the sealer, what is the best way to store seeds?

      Comment


      • #4
        I think the most important aspect is airtight - so any humid air cannot get in. Many of the seeds at SSE are stored in heat-sealed foil packets.

        We do press any excess air out of the bags before sealing (so you don't end up with that potato chip bag pillow effect), but the air isn't actually sucked out.

        Unless you need really long-term storage, you should be able to get away with paper packets stored in an airtight container. If you live in a humid climate you can put some desiccant in there to absorb any moisture (rather than taking the chance of the seeds absorbing it).

        For what it's worth, the seeds I plant in my garden have been sitting in opened paper packets in a hallway (just sitting in open boxes) for 2-3 years now and are germinating just fine. Obviously not the recommended method, but they hold out pretty darn well without much concern for the most part.

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        • #5
          I have always wondered if the following ways have any advantage to keep seeds viable longer:

          1. Refrigerated storage (not frozen).

          2. In an enclosed container, light a candle until the candle is extinguished from exhausting the oxygen, and then package the seeds airtight. The seeds will now be in CO2 and nitrogen mostly. I was told that a lot of food is stored in the absence of oxygen to stay fresh.

          dcarch

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          • #6
            Mine are stored in paper envelopes and then placed in rubbermaid types of containers. I throw in a few packs of desiccant every time I buy a new pair of shoes, or hubby gets a new electronic toy.

            Like Steph, I don't have a really airtight system, and for the moment, my seeds are in an unused bedroom, top off of the plastic bin, and packets everywhere.

            We keep our house at 40% humidity (that's ultra low where I live) because care and feeding of hubby's vintage guitar collection needs it this low too.

            It's not very scientific, but I've never had a germination problem, but our house never fluctuates more than a couple of degrees in temps and humidity.

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            • #7
              Reviving an old thread.

              I keep about 200 varieties (and growing) currently, in long-term cold storage. Still developing my system, and always looking for input.

              I pre-desiccate my seeds with that re-usable blue silica bead desiccant. Then I vacuum-seal (with a pump-n-seal!) them in small glass canning jars with a little bit of desiccant in each jar. Then, I store them in my freezer for 11 months out of the year. Right now, I've got them out and open for germ-testing, updating the collection, setting aside seeds for the coming season, etc.

              There are a few varieties of seed which do not stand up well to extreme dehydration; however, it seems that the vast majority of seeds are just fine with it. I've also seen research suggesting that, of the variables affecting viability--heat, light, oxygen and moisture--moisture is by far the most significant.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by dcarch View Post
                I have always wondered if the following ways have any advantage to keep seeds viable longer:

                1. Refrigerated storage (not frozen).

                2. In an enclosed container, light a candle until the candle is extinguished from exhausting the oxygen, and then package the seeds airtight. The seeds will now be in CO2 and nitrogen mostly. I was told that a lot of food is stored in the absence of oxygen to stay fresh.

                dcarch
                Here is what the USDA sent me: "We store at about 5 degrees C, 35-40 degrees F. These seeds can remain at room temperature for planting this year, but should go into cold storage at this temperature or colder if held for more than a few weeks for planting. What is more damaging to seed is movement back and fourth between different temperatures and especially different humidities. We store our seed at 40% relative humidity maintained by a lithium chloride dryer. If the seed is placed in a sealed container you should be able to store in a refrigerator for years. We store our maize seed at between 25 and 30 years under above mentioned conditions."

                I highlighted the part about what he said about damaging the seeds. And here is why. Most of us occasionally spend time with our seeds. If it is planting season or your in the midst of trading season and if you are like most you will retrieve your seeds quite a few times and if you think about how often your seeds unfreeze and refreeze; that is where it is not good.

                But now if keep them refrigerated and take them out they are going through a less traumatic event each time. If you keep them 40 to 70 degrees you are not really effecting them. You go through those temps allot in your year but how well will you handle a freeze and thaw.

                Seeds are a living thing and should in all the sense of the word be treated that way.

                Preston

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by seedjunkie View Post
                  Here is what the USDA sent me: "We store at about 5 degrees C, 35-40 degrees F. These seeds can remain at room temperature for planting this year, but should go into cold storage at this temperature or colder if held for more than a few weeks for planting. What is more damaging to seed is movement back and fourth between different temperatures and especially different humidities. We store our seed at 40% relative humidity maintained by a lithium chloride dryer. If the seed is placed in a sealed container you should be able to store in a refrigerator for years. We store our maize seed at between 25 and 30 years under above mentioned conditions."-------.
                  Preston
                  Thanks for the information.
                  I can see why you call yourself" Seedjunkie"

                  dcarch

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                  • #10
                    Seeds Damaged by Freezing

                    Are there any seeds that will be damaged by freezing?

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                    • #11
                      We store our seeds in paper packets (bank cash envelopes) in Army surplus ammo boxes. They are watertight with a gasketed lid and are meant to keep ammunition dry. The size we use is one packet wide and high so packets are easy to organize. You can add dessicant if necessary, but we haven't. We use glass canning jars to store larger amounts of beans, corn, etc. No energy needed to maintain seeds once you have the containers. Home gardeners don't need to get too high tech. I believe the rule of thumb is the 100 rule - temperature and humidty added together should be 100 or less for best results.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Low moisture and low temperature for needed for the best seed storeage. If you are in a location with fairly low humidity, air drying seeds is probably all that is needed. To be sure that my seeds are dry I store them in a jar with silica gel for a week.

                        When the week of drying is up, I put the seeds in air tight vials and put the vials in a refrigerator which I have set up for seed storage. It is a small apartment frig that is only used for seed storage. I like to dry my seeds with silica gel before sealing them in the vials because seeds that are not dry enough might rot when stored in an air tight container. I use silica gel that has a color indicator that turns color when it the silica gel needs to be dried. I reuse the silca gel that has turned color by drying it out in a microwave. If you don't have air tight vials, you could store the seeds in paper envelopes placed inside a canning jar with the lid closed tight.

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                        • #13
                          seed saving

                          I spent 2 days putting all of my seeds into small amber bottles . I have many cases of 2 oz amber Glass bottles. They are flat on two sides and rounded on the ends . They are more like rectangles. 24 dozen to a case, with paper dividers separating them. Then I put color coded stickers then with a number on the tops . Then I wrote on a excel worksheet what was in each number bottle . I then built trays to go in a large military search and rescue box . It has revolutionized seed saving for me . 288 bottles per case . I have many cases if someone were interested. I used to keep my seeds in military boxes but this is so much faster to access any variety instead of packets . If anyone has interest I can email you pictures James

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                          • #14
                            Hi, am new here and enjoying this thread. We picked some passionfruit ripening on a vine in the wild last night and began to wonder about how to save the seeds. I've been a SSE member for many years but was too busy raising kids. We've got heirloom tomatoes, squash and rattlesnake beans from seeds purchased from our local organic growers.

                            Happy August harvest y'all~~

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                            • #15
                              re: amber bottles

                              Hello James,

                              I would be interested in acquiring some amber bottles for seed saving.
                              Where did you get yours?

                              Thanks

                              Brendan

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