As Autumn has arrived and the weather seems to have turned, its time to think about your seed storage. Here I am going to give you 5 Tips for how to store your seeds to give them the best chance to maintain good viability and enabling them to make it through to the next sowing season.
Remember seeds are living embryo’s of a plant and therefore they will only survive or stay healthy if looked after.
My 5 tips are
1. Temperature – The temperature needs to be stable; you should avoid environments where temperatures will fluctuate. Green houses will get too hot in the summer, and too cold in the winter. Seeds don’t like to be baked or frozen. It is better for seeds to be in a cool environment rather than a warm one. A warmer environment could cause seeds to degenerate. I have designed our seed storage box from a stylish wood, as unlike a metal seed tin it will maintain a stable temperature and not conduct heat or Cold like metal. Our seed organiser boxes can be viewed here.
An ideal temperature is between 0.5 – 4.5 degree C. So it would be better to store them in an dry, draft free outbuilding than in a central heated house.
2. Store your seeds in a dark place. Exposing seeds to bright light will affect its health. I would always recommend storing your seeds in packets to help prevent deterioration due to sunlight.
If you harvest your own seeds, Seed storage envelopes are very useful to help keep them in the dark, and to also write down vital details such as the type of seed, date they were harvested, when to sow and details such as height & colour. At Chester & Cooke we sell sets of 15 Seed Harvest envelopes especially for you to use for harvested seeds. You can find them here. I would avoid putting harvested seeds directly into glass jars, especially in a green house.
3. Humidity – Seeds should be stored in a dry place, if you have harvested your own seeds they should be dried well before storage – Any dampness will cause seeds to mould and rot & therefore will render them useless. A draughty shed could cause your seeds to become too damp. If you’re not 100% sure your seeds are dry enough you could always add some silica gel packets to your seed box.
4. Get organised – Ensure your seeds are fresh, good quality seeds to start with. Purchasing your seeds from seed growers will ensure they are from the best plants & will produce the best quality plants for you. Seed growers have a reputation to maintain so it’s in their interests to grow strong, healthy and virus free plants that will produce good quality seeds. Check the dates on your seeds before purchase to ensure they are fresh.
Get a good system for storing your seeds, organising them into the months in which to sow them will ensure you don’t miss another sowing season. Seed divider cards can help do this and will turn your seed box into a really organised system and a real joy for any gardener. These will help you avoid wasted seeds. You can purchase them here.
Once you have used some seeds make sure you seal the seed packets shut properly.
5. Is your seed box bulging at the seams? If you have packets of seeds that have been sat in your seed container box for a while. Then you may want to check if your seeds are still viable. You can do this simple test to check. Place 4-5 seeds on a piece of wet tissue and leave them on a sunny windowsill. Then, wait and see how many germinate. If none of them germinate, you can assume that they no longer grow, and it will be time to purchase some more for next planting season. Make sure to write a note at the front of your seed box to remind you what seeds you need to replace.