A Seed Saver's Garden

heirloomgal

Deeply Rooted
Joined
Jan 17, 2021
Messages
1,256
Reaction score
3,762
Points
175
Location
Ontario, Canada
as a future tip, leave the lid on the jar lightly turned. also helps to keep random dust and bugs out if you don't store them upside down. bonus also prevents chips and cracks.
Why only lightly turned @flowerbug , and not tightly turned? Does it help with the beans' viability over the longer term? I read years ago in a seed saving book, written by a man who grew tons of seed, that beans like ' a bit of air moving over them' while in storage. I hadn't heard that before, and always wondered about his recommendation. Given that I keep my seeds in my basement in jars, I was tempted a few times to go around loosening lid tops, but never could bring myself to do it. I don't think the humidity is high down there, but I'm sure it does fluctuate season to season and I was concerned about that. I really do wonder though, aside from freezing seeds in the right freezer, what the best way is to keep them.

This past spring I decided to try and sprout a couple of pretty ancient beans from years ago. Truthfully, these beans pre-dated my seed saving, so I stored them poorly and in a container with no top, in both the upstairs, then basement of the house. I was sure this was the worst way could have kept them, exposed like that. But howdy, they all sprouted like a charm this spring. Those beans were probably 6-8 years old. Makes me wonder about that book.
 

Bluejay77

Garden Master
Joined
Jan 12, 2013
Messages
2,381
Reaction score
5,427
Points
303
Location
Woodstock, Illinois Zone 5
Why only lightly turned @flowerbug , and not tightly turned? Does it help with the beans' viability over the longer term? I read years ago in a seed saving book, written by a man who grew tons of seed, that beans like ' a bit of air moving over them' while in storage. I hadn't heard that before, and always wondered about his recommendation. Given that I keep my seeds in my basement in jars, I was tempted a few times to go around loosening lid tops, but never could bring myself to do it. I don't think the humidity is high down there, but I'm sure it does fluctuate season to season and I was concerned about that. I really do wonder though, aside from freezing seeds in the right freezer, what the best way is to keep them.
The best way to store seeds is with less oxygen getting to the seed. Colder and dryer the storage environorment the better. Oxygen oxidizes not only the seed coats and continues to darken them with time, but oxygen also oxidizes the amino acids in the seed that is reponsible for getting the embryo plant inside the seed to come out of it's dormancy when the temperature is high enough and the seed has taken in enough water. The oxidization of these amino acids is why old seed when old enough and enough of the amino acids have oxidized the seed no longer comes to life. Look at what they do at the World Seed Bank in Svalbard. They put seeds in special laminated seed packets so they won't absorb any moisture with all the air vacuumed out of the packets. Storage temperatures are what -18 C or
-.4 F. The thing about keeping seed cold and dry is the viablility will be lengthened the more even the temperature is maintained. At Svalbard the sourrounding mountain will keep tempertures very even. They figure that seed stored there will remain viable for 500 years. I'm not going to live 500 years but I'll settle on my freezers. I have already acquired bean seed that was stored in a freezer for 17 years and my germination when planting was 100%. The best freezers to store seed is one that is not frost free. The walls keep warming up to eliminate frost build up and I have been told that will affect the seed stored in a frost free freezer. So in a nutshell. For long seed viability. Colder, dryer and the less oxygen the better. You know those silica gel tabs that absorb moisture. Well there also exists little tabs like that you can place inside little ziplocs and they will absorb the oxygen that is in any air inside your baggie.

Then with your seed frozen you want to get at it sometime to grow. Allow frozen seed to warm naturally to the out of freezer enviornment. You don't just want to open a container of frozen seed until it has equalized with the tempearture in your room. It harms viability when suddenly exposing frozen seed to the air.
 
Last edited:

heirloomgal

Deeply Rooted
Joined
Jan 17, 2021
Messages
1,256
Reaction score
3,762
Points
175
Location
Ontario, Canada
Found two bags of dried peas in with the bags of beans, and they were both really good varieties. 'Spanish Skyscraper' was excellent and 'June's Delight' was the best 4 foot tall pea of the whole bunch in terms of survival & production. I will grow these ones again for sure.

IMG_7772.JPG
IMG_7774.JPG

20211129_201620_resized.jpg


This has nothing to do with seeds. But it is about things you can do with loaf pans. DD and I spend the evening creating a snow fort with them; it went pretty well until we neared the top. Then it seemed pretty clear that some principle of engineering was eluding us as the top was going more up-up-up than over. We needed a stool to get the top bricks on, not sure if we'll be able to get it to close or not without using a ladder. 🤣
IMG_7763.JPG
IMG_7757.JPG
 
Last edited:

heirloomgal

Deeply Rooted
Joined
Jan 17, 2021
Messages
1,256
Reaction score
3,762
Points
175
Location
Ontario, Canada
The best way to store seeds is with less oxygen getting to the seed. Colder and dryer the storage environorment the better. Oxygen oxidizes not only the seed coats and continues to darken them with time, but oxygen also oxidizes the amino acids in the seed that is reponsible for getting the embryo plant inside the seed to come out of it's dormancy when the temperature is high enough and the seed has taken in enough water. The oxidization of these amino acids is why old seed when old enough and enough of the amino acids have oxidized the seed no longer comes to life. Look at what they do at the World Seed Bank in Svalbard. They put seeds in special laminated seed packets so they won't absorb any moisture with all the air vacuumed out of the packets. Storage temperatures are what -18 C or
-.4 F. The thing about keeping seed cold and dry is the viablility will be lengthened the more even the temperature is maintained. At Svalbard the sourrounding mountain will keep tempertures very even. They figure that seed stored there will remain viable for 500 years. I'm not going to live 500 years but I'll settle on my freezers. I have already acquired bean seed that was stored in a freezer for 17 years and my germination when planting was 100%. The best freezers to store seed is one that is not frost free. The walls keep warming up to eliminate frost build up and I have been told that will affect the seed stored in a frost free freezer. So in a nutshell. For long seed viability. Colder, dryer and the less oxygen the better. You know those silica gel tabs that absorb moisture. Well there also exists little tabs like that you can place inside little ziplocs and they will absorb the oxygen that is in any air inside your baggie.
@Bluejay77 I have a freezer in my basement right now that is not being used, but it's not a chest freezer it's a upright fridge type. I'm afraid to use it because I don't know if it will harm the seeds. It's old I know that, we bought it used and we've had it for about 7 or 8 years. I know I won't get my beans to live as long in jars as they would in a proper freezer but I'm afraid my freezer might wreck my seeds. Maybe I should go visit a shoe store and see if they have any of those shoe box packets that they are throwing away. People tell me they throw thousands of those packets away.
 
Last edited:

flowerbug

Garden Master
Joined
Oct 15, 2017
Messages
11,212
Reaction score
12,640
Points
357
Location
mid-Michigan, USoA
Why only lightly turned @flowerbug , and not tightly turned? Does it help with the beans' viability over the longer term? I read years ago in a seed saving book, written by a man who grew tons of seed, that beans like ' a bit of air moving over them' while in storage. I hadn't heard that before, and always wondered about his recommendation. Given that I keep my seeds in my basement in jars, I was tempted a few times to go around loosening lid tops, but never could bring myself to do it. I don't think the humidity is high down there, but I'm sure it does fluctuate season to season and I was concerned about that. I really do wonder though, aside from freezing seeds in the right freezer, what the best way is to keep them.

This past spring I decided to try and sprout a couple of pretty ancient beans from years ago. Truthfully, these beans pre-dated my seed saving, so I stored them poorly and in a container with no top, in both the upstairs, then basement of the house. I was sure this was the worst way could have kept them, exposed like that. But howdy, they all sprouted like a charm this spring. Those beans were probably 6-8 years old. Makes me wonder about that book.

no, i meant for keeping track of the lids. :) so when they are clean and dry to put the lid on only lightly so it can still breathe a bit. for storing beans i only open them when i use them, but i'm sure it is not a completely air tight seal, but it is better than open containers.

i've never put my seed selection beans in the freezer or even in the fridge to store them, same for peas. i do have some that will not sprout and grow but i think many of them are just not viable seeds to begin with as i do have a lot of malformed beans at times and it is a fact that certain crosses will not be viable. i don't know what the oldest bean i've grown recently but they are all kept dry and in somewhat sealed containers but they are not air-tight. we do have the AC for the summer so they do not get cooked in high-humidity here for those summer months. cool storage in a basement in sealed jars that might get a little air in some slight gaps is probably ok enough. if you haven't had a problem getting the well formed beans to sprout then i think you're doing ok. :)

when i planted this past spring i think there were only a few beans that didn't sprout and i was questionable about them to begin with so it was no surprise.

some year i do hope to get a good reliable seed saving quality freezer but that will only happen after i have space for it. i don't right now.

the oldest bean seeds i'd have would be about 10-12yrs old. i had to edit this to say that i might have some others that other people have given to me that are older but i don't recall which ones they are or how old they might be. :)
 
Last edited:

flowerbug

Garden Master
Joined
Oct 15, 2017
Messages
11,212
Reaction score
12,640
Points
357
Location
mid-Michigan, USoA
...
Then with your seed frozen you want to get at it sometime to grow. Allow frozen seed to warm naturally to the out of freezer enviornment. You don't just want to open a container of frozen seed until it has equalized with the tempearture in your room. It harms viability when suddenly exposing frozen seed to the air.

i think much of the reason for that is that cold seeds would have moisture condensing out on them. i'm not sure there is any actual scientific study otherwise, but if anyone can give me a cite to some study that would be interesting to see. :)
 

Bluejay77

Garden Master
Joined
Jan 12, 2013
Messages
2,381
Reaction score
5,427
Points
303
Location
Woodstock, Illinois Zone 5
@Bluejay77 I have a freezer in my basement right now that is not being used, but it's not a chest freezer it's a upright fridge type. I'm afraid to use it because I don't know if it will harm the seeds. It's old I know that, we bought it used and we've had it for about 7 or 8 years. I know I won't get my beans to live as long in jars as they would in a proper freezer but I'm afraid my freezer might wreck my seeds. Maybe I should go visit a shoe store and see if they have any of those shoe box packets that they are throwing away. People tell me they throw thousands of those packets away.

Your old upright freezer could be frost free. I think that was a more popular thing to do years ago. Lot of the freezers I see now are not frost free. Maybe that helps keep the price down a bit. You could store your beans like I do in ziploc baggies and put them in card board boxes. I use 4 mil baggies. I think the closure channels are tighter and don't open and easily plus the 4 mil might be a better moisture barrier. The boxes would be a bit of insulation when you opened the door. Try running that freezer for a while and see if it's frost free. Open the door and let some air in once in awhile and see if frost collects on the walls of the machine or not. When it comes to the boxes I've taylored my box sizes to my ziploc sizes. I use a 3 x 4 inch and the boxes I put them in are 7 x 5 x 12. Two rows of baggies in those boxes. My 2 x 3 inch baggies are in 7 x 4 x 12 inch boxes. Three rows of ziplocs in that box size.

I've also got a little bit of seed that been sitting in baby food jars since 2012. In my...... I think cool basement. Some of the varieties of the 2012 seed are still germinating at 100%. The temperature in my basement flucuates slowly from a low of 60 F in January to 68 F in August.
 

ducks4you

Garden Master
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
7,796
Reaction score
6,300
Points
397
Location
East Central IL, Was Zone 6, Now...maybe Zone 5
My cool/dry basement seems to be a great place to store seeds. I have had viability there. I think what we should avoid is leaving paper packages of seeds out. They Should be put in ziplock bags to keep out Any humidity.
IMHO I like to do everything I can gardening-wise without using any electricity, but that's just ME.
I LOVE reading about everyone's success stories here!!
This week I saved cinnamon basil seeds. I had a purchased plant in a pot at DD's house. The plant had died last month from the frost and had been drying out. I pulled off the spent flowers/seed pods into a metal bowl, then sifted them with a metal colander. The seeds are tiny and I am satisfied that I have over 50 seeds from next year, repackaged and labeled, "for 2022," just like seed packages that you buy.
I didn't realize how instrumental the Shakers were in seed saving.
16622523_web1_M-kovel-edh-190504.jpg
 
Top