Saving seeds

Saving seeds

In growing a garden year after year, I find that I have accumulated many packages of garden seeds. Going through the inventory.  Knowing that seeds don’t last forever, (well at least most seeds) I decided to check out the viability age for some garden seeds.  If they’re too old the percentage of germination will be much lower and saving your seeds was a waste of time. poppy, agapanthus, calla, zinnia seed heads

The chart below gives us the average viability age of seeds stored under “proper conditions” which means that seeds should be kept in a cool, dark place with even temperature and humidity.

Seed storage

Store seeds in a small mason jar,vacumn seal bags or air tight plastic bag with a silica gel packet . If you don’t have silica gel use dry powdered milk wrapped in a coffee filter.
For long term storage, seeds can also be saved in the refrigerator or freezer. Refrigerated seeds proved to be 10 times more viable than seeds stored at room temperature. Frozen seeds have an even longer lifespan when their moisture level is below 8 percent before freezing. This can be done by placing the seeds in a mason jar with 1/2 lb of silica gel for a week.  When the gel turns from dark blue to a pink color and the dried seeds break instead of bending when folded, then they are dry enough to freeze. Quickly, transfer the dried seeds to another container and freeze to save for future use.

Average viability of stored seeds

Bean: 3-4 years
Beet: 6
Broccoli: up to 5
Cabbage: 4
Carrot: 3
Cauliflower: 4-5
Celery: 50% up to 8
Corn: 2-3 Popcorn: 50% up to 5-10
Cucumber: 5
Eggplant: 4
Gourds: 5
Lettuce: 6
Melons: 5
Onion: 1
Pea: 3
Pepper: 2
Pumpkin: 6
Radish: 5
Spinach: 3
Squash: 6
Tomatoes: 3-10 depending on variety
Watermelon: 6

If you are saving your own seeds, be sure your seeds are totally dry before storing and label each packet with a name, date and any other comments for next year. Unlike open pollinated seeds (heirlooms), seeds from F1 hybrids will not be true to the original plant .

How to separate seeds from fleshy fruits and berries

To separate the seed from the fruit smash the fruit or squeeze the berries in a cloth. Open the cloth and remove the seeds and rinse. I smash my berries through a sieve, the pulp goes through the sieve and seeds remain, rinse the seeds and place on paper towel or newspaper to dry.  Another way, is to put the seeds in a blender and pour the mix in container with some water letting it ferment for a few days. The pulp and any dead seeds will float to the top and the viable (good) seed will settle on the bottom.  Remove and rinse good seeds and dry on paper towel. This works well on tomato seeds.