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Saving Seeds From Year To Year?

Discussion in 'Fruits & Vegetables' started by Ben E Lou, Dec 14, 2018.

  1. Jan 20, 2019
    flowerbug

    flowerbug Garden Addicted

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    @Ben E Lou "]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

    "

    so much depends upon how they are stored. i can say that list must be geared towards very poor conditions for storage...

    i have beans here stored at room temperature that are on year 8 and doing ok for germination (not perfect but good enough). i'm working through my collection to refresh everything the next few years and was pleasantly surprised by last year's grow outs.
     
  2. Jan 20, 2019
    flowerbug

    flowerbug Garden Addicted

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    and bugs... nothing more frustrating to harvest seeds and then have them hatch out a bunch of bugs. i had that happen to some wild rose hips once. good thing i had them in a sealed container or i would have had hundreds of little what looks like miniature hornets flying around in the house. some other seeds have had bugs too acorns had some worms come out of them and sunflower seeds are two other's i remember.

    it being far enough north i'm glad i don't see too many bean beetles but i have seen damage on some beans sent to me by others. i freeze those for some days to make sure they're safe.
     
    so lucky and ducks4you like this.
  3. Jan 20, 2019
    Bluejay77

    Bluejay77 Garden Addicted

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    I don't believe in the seed longevity charts that you find in gardening books and on the internet. Ben E Lou put up a seed longevity chart. You can go by that if you want but that's probably for getting near 100% germination out of all those different kinds of plants. Also the seed companies would probably like everyone to buy new seed every gardening season. Craig Lehoullier who wrote the book "Epic Tomatoes" has stated I'm sure I read it in his book that most tomato seeds will last up to about 14 years. Doesn't mean you are going to get 100% germination. However I've not gotten 100% germination out of fresh seed. I did a germination test in October of a snap bean that I saved seed of back in 2012 and I got 100% out of it. Depends I think also on the variety. I got other varieties of 2012 bean seed that I've gotten anywhere from 20% to about 60% testing it last spring of 2018. If I have saved bean seed and it's 5 years old and I can still get 70% out of it I think it's very worth saving the seed. If you want your seed to last longer just put it in ziploc baggies and drop in a little packet of silcone moisture absorber and stick your seed in the freezer. It will still grow well after 25 years. Just remember not to open the packet of seed until it's naturally warmed to room temperture fi you want to grow it again. Exposing frozen seed suddenly to the air can destroy it's ability to grow. I think saving seed is something that those who grow heirloom or older varieties will not stop doing. These people like myself are true belivers in saving seed.

    I had one particular incident with an original bean variety of mine called Dalmatian that I would like to pass along to you. When I started up my bean collection again in 2011. I was also looking for my original beans that I had stabllized back in the early 1980's fom outcrosses. In 2011 I found a woman Seed Saver Exchange member in California who has listed Dalamtian in the SSE yearbook. I wrote to her and told her if she sent me some I would send back part of the seed crop to her. She didn't want to send the seed at first she said she was having touble with spider mites in her garden doing a number on her bean plants. She eventually relented and sent me a sample of 104 seeds in August of 2011. I had planed on growing out the seed in the 2012 season. She had told me that she had kept the seed in a jar in the freezer that was in her basement and just kept the freezer door closed. She wasn't running the freezer. When the seed finally arrived my heart sunk as the date on the seed packets said 2004 and when I planted the seed the next season it would be about 8 years old. I planted half of it anyway and to my surprise I got over 90% germination that year. I sent her back nearly half the seed crop. I kept about half the remaing seed in a jar in my basement and half in a jar in my refrigerator. I took out some of each the next season in 2013 and planted what was then 9 year old seed and still got over 90% germination. I planted the remainder of the Dalmatian seed in 2014 which now made that seed 10 years old and I still got nearly 90% germination out of that seed.

    Will Bonsall of the Scattered Seed Project sent me 52 packets of seed from outcrosses in 2015 some of that seed ranged in age from seed that was grown in 1996 up to 2013. I got some of the 19 year old seed to grow in 2015 and saved what ever was going to come out of those plants. Very low germination on some of that 19 year seed. 10 to 15% on that old seed but now I've got fresh seed and can work with those very old outcrosses that occured in Will's garden back in the middle 1990's. I asked Will how he had that seed stored, and he told me it was just in paper coin envelopes sitting in his warm but very dry office. That is truely amazing for seed that was not kept in freezer storage.

    In December I obtained seed of a Robert Lobitz bean variety that a fellow in Michigan had stored in his freezer since 2001. That seed will be 18 years old when I plant it this coming spring season. What I thought was amazing he had it stored in paper coin envelopes. Paper is very porous. He told me he likes his beans to be able to breathe. Well when things breathe they can get oxygen. A certain amount of Oxygen must be able to pass through those porous paper coin envelopes. Oxygen oxizdizes seed coats. That's why they darken with time. Oxygen also oxydizes the amino acids in the seed, any seed of any vegetable you might save. Those amino acids are responsible to for allowing that embroyo plant to wake up and grow when the temperature is right and the seed has taken in enough water. I took four of the smallest seeds that I probably would not have planted anyway when his seed arrived in the mail and put them between moist paper and into a ziploc baggie with the closeur end left open. 48 hours all four of those 17 year seeds germinated.

    So seed is a lot more resilent than what those germination tables would lead you to believe. You can go by them if you want but I don't put a whole lot of stock into them.
     
    so lucky, thejenx, flowerbug and 2 others like this.
  4. Jan 20, 2019
    seedcorn

    seedcorn Garden Master

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    Vigor is almost as important as germ. Vigor goes down as seed ages. They’ve gotten viable seed out of pyramids where seed was kept at a fairly constant temp and low humidity.
     
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  5. Feb 25, 2019
    Ben E Lou

    Ben E Lou Garden Ornament

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    So my next-door neighbor saw me working in the backyard and came over yesterday with some seeds to give me. They’re, uh, kind of old.

    59FC013C-A737-42F6-A0A4-2E68F066B300.jpeg FF2D56CF-0A4D-4FB6-BA42-E30810AE27F7.jpeg
    Just for fun, I scattered the arugula and lettuce in areas where I hadn’t planned to grow anything. Let’s see what happens.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
  6. Feb 25, 2019
    flowerbug

    flowerbug Garden Addicted

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    that's the fun thing to do with old seeds. never know what will come up. :)
     
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  7. Feb 25, 2019
    ducks4you

    ducks4you Garden Master

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    You have to put the "human practice of storing their seed" variable into the equation. If the seed is stored wet then dried out it won't sprout.
    Only correct seed handling and consistant dried and cool packaging kept in dark storage will keep the seed at all viable. @Ben E Lou 's gift of seeds may sprout. Won't know until he tries.
     
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  8. Feb 25, 2019
    thistlebloom

    thistlebloom Garden Master

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    How sweet! I love thoughtful neighbors.
    Even if the seeds don't grow, it's nice to be thought of.
     
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  9. Feb 25, 2019
    so lucky

    so lucky Garden Master

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    @flowerbug, if you have chickens, they would love you for gathering acorns for them. After they sit for a while, those worms come out and the chickens will jump on them. Literally. I think we cracked the acorns. Couldn't keep the chickens away.
     
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  10. Feb 25, 2019
    flowerbug

    flowerbug Garden Addicted

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    no chickens here, i was using them as sling shot to scare the deer away (it didn't work and i had a strap break and got smacked in the face pretty good so gave up on that idea for a while - eventually i thought i could drill out the acorns and fill them full of peanut butter and seeds of various wildflowers to fling around or see if the squirrels would move them around for me - but again other ideas i didn't get around to doing much with :) ).
     

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