Saving Seeds From Year To Year?

digitS'

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Ha Ha!

Ben E Lou is a new gardener.

Hang around here and we will have you up on the 2-wheeler in no time! Fasten that chin-strap ...

digitS'
 

Ridgerunner

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Sorry that I wasn't clear here. I wasn't talking about saving seeds from my own plants. I was talking about the fact that I might buy a packet containing 50 seeds for my 2019 garden, intending to grow only 4. In that scenario I might plant 8-12 of the seeds and then thin, but I've still got ~40 seeds left. I'm looking for experiences to get a feel for what it would be like to grow those seeds in 2020 and beyond. Theoretically, those 50 seeds would last me 4-5 years if they'll maintain strong germination rates...
What you are talking about is reasonable. As they said, some seed lasts longer than others but there are certain enemies of storing them long term like that. Moisture is a huge one. They need to be dry. Don't get the packet wet when you are planting some of them. I use glass jars to store most of the time but zip-lok type bags for some things. Keep them dry.

You do not want them to get too hot. Going through a cycle of hot to cold to hot to cold isn't good. Seed banks that are storing them long term usually freeze them and maintain a steady temperature. I store some in the freezer but some are kept at room temperature. The refrigerator wouldn't be bad either. As Philagardener mentioned watch out for condensation if you freeze them and then open them.

I try to avoid storing them in too much light. I don't know how important that is but it just feels right to me to keep them kind of dark. In the packets it is not a big deal but I try to avoid light when they are not protected.

I think someone mentioned a germination test to see if they are viable. The way I do that is to take a paper towel and soak it, then wring as much water out of it as I can. I fold it around some seeds and put it inside a zip-lok type bag and leave the bag open. Do not zip it closed. Put that bag in a warm spot. Warm air rises so the top of a refrigerator or a tall bookcase might be a good location. Check back in a week or more and see how many sprouted. That will tell you if you need to buy more seeds.
 

Zeedman

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Sorry that I wasn't clear here. I wasn't talking about saving seeds from my own plants. I was talking about the fact that I might buy a packet containing 50 seeds for my 2019 garden, intending to grow only 4. In that scenario I might plant 8-12 of the seeds and then thin, but I've still got ~40 seeds left. I'm looking for experiences to get a feel for what it would be like to grow those seeds in 2020 and beyond. Theoretically, those 50 seeds would last me 4-5 years if they'll maintain strong germination rates...
Ooops. (reeling life preserver back in) And I was looking forward to providing even more (unnecessary) info... :rolleyes:

In that case, @Ridgerunner pretty much covered it. All I would add is to divide the seed up prior to freezing, with a small zip lock bag for each year. At planting time, quickly remove only the packets which will be planted, and immediately return the rest to the freezer. This alleviates the necessity of subjecting the entire seed jar to the repeated freeze/thaw cycles which could reduce seed life.
 

Ben E Lou

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No worries, @Zeedman! I appreciate the info even if it wasn't what I was looking for right now. I will, however, store it away for this coming gardening season.
 

flowerbug

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also there is a search function which works so that can bring up tons of information from the past threads (not that we mind new ones by the way :) ).

if you don't have freezer space i think room temperature is ok for many seeds as long as you don't keep them in a place where they are left in the sun or getting wet/mildewed i think they'll be ok for a few years. and like you say you can plant extras if you are going to thin anyways.
 

Ben E Lou

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Just ran across a great article with some detail around how long seeds typically are viable. Posting here for reference:

https://www.superseeds.com/blogs/know-your-roots/the-germination-explanation-how-long-do-seeds-last

VEGETABLES:

Asparagus - 3 years

Beans - 3 years

Beet - 4 years

Broccoli - 4 years

Brussels Sprouts - 4 years

Cabbage - 4 years

Carrot - 3 years

Cauliflower - 4 years

Celery - 3 years

Chard, Swiss - 4 years

Chicory - 4 years

Chinese Cabbage - 3 years

Corn, Sweet - 2 years

Cucumber - 5 years

Eggplant - 3 years

Endive - 5 years

Kale - 4 years

Leek - 2 years

Lettuce - 4 years

Melon - 5 years

Mustard - 4 years

Okra - 2 years

Onion - 1 year

Parsnip - 1 year

Pea - 3 years

Pepper - 3 years

Pumpkin - 4 years

Radish - 4 years

Rutabaga - 4 years

Spinach - 2 years

Squash - 4 years

Tomato - 5 years

Turnip - 4 years

Watermelon - 4 years


HERBS:

Anise - 3 years

Basil- 5-7 years

Calendula - 3 years

Catnip - 5 years

Chives - 1 year

Cilantro - 5-7 years

Dill - 3 years

Fennel - 4 years

Lavender - 5 years

Oregano - 2 years

Parsley - 1 year

Sage - 3 years

Savory - 3 years

Thyme - 3 years


FLOWERS:

(As a general rule, most annual flower seeds are viable for 1-3 years and perennial seed for 2-4 years.)

Ageratum - 4 years

Alyssum - 4 years

Amaranth - 4 years

Aster - 1 year

Baby’s Breath - 2 years

Bachelor’s Button - 3 years

Calendula - 5 years

Celosia - 4 years

Clarkia - 2 years

Coleus - 2 years

Columbine - 2 years

Cosmos - 3 years

Dahlia - 2 years

Daisy - 3 years

Delphinium - 1 year

Dianthus - 4 years

Foxglove - 2 years

Geranium - 1 year

Hibiscus - 3 years

Hollyhock - 3 years

Impatiens - 2 years

Larkspur - 1 year

Lobelia - 3 years

Lupine - 2 years

Marigold - 2 years

Nasturtium - 5 years

Nicotiana - 3 years

Pansy - 2 years

Petunia - 3 years

Phlox - 1 year

Poppy - 4 years

Salvia - 1 year

Snapdragon - 3 years

Sweet Pea - 3 years

Verbena - 1 year

Zinnia - 5 years
 

digitS'

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That looks conservative ..

. enough, to me.

I want to avoid the risks that my gardening efforts fail because that so often means a 12 month error. I can't reset because time has moved on. Missing a season because I was penny wise and pound foolish - fooey on that!

A couple of caveats: I don't freeze or even refrigerate seed. Except for some personally dear varieties/crosses, my seed stores don't represent any precious genetic diversity. The challenge of growing something from some "earlier time," inflames only a little enthusiasm.

Steve :)
 

ducks4you

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Good for you! Your Googlefoo is VERY strong, Grasshopper!!
Seriously, though, you just learn which seeds will survive for a long time and which ones don't, for general germination. Onion seeds just won't grow after a year, but I sprouted 35 year old tomato seeds, two ends of the spectrum. Perhaps you should do what many gardeners do and test your seeds by wetting a paper towel, placing seeds on it and carefully sealing it inside of a labeled ziploc bag. You leave it on top of your fridge, or another warm place for the germination period, like the package suggests, and see how many sprout. You should start 10 seeds or a multiple of 10 to find out the viable percentage.
It is possible to lift the sprouts and repot in a starting medium, if you like.
Although it is true that some plants require a period of freezing, it is more likely to be spring bulbs and not garden vegetables. Consider that you can garden year round in Florida and their vegetable gardens don't get any real cold or freezing, yet the plants will reseed there if not removed.
 

seedcorn

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@Ben E Lou While those are good averages, seed vigor changes from year to year. Seed vigor is as important as germ%. Some years boughten seed may have low vigor but good germ. Why the package says packaged for a certain year.

@Ridgerunner is correct. Temperature swings and humidity are the worst things to kill viability of seeds.
 

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