How to Properly Store Vegetable Seeds

So they will be viable for years to come


When stored properly seeds can last for many years. Following is a general guideline of how long certain seeds will last in optimum conditions. Just remember that this is just a guideline. I've had seeds stay viable for many years. Germination rates may have been reduced, but I was still able to get a good crop out of them. If you have some old seeds, sow them more heavily in your garden and then thin out the seedlings to the appropriate spacing, if necessary.

How to store vegetable seeds

Up to a 2 Year Shelf Life

Corn
Leeks
Onion
Rhubarb
Parsnip
Parsley

Up to a 3 Year Shelf Life

Asparagus
Beans
Brussel Sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Kale
Lettuce
Okra
Peas
Peppers
Radish
Spinach
Turnip
Watermelon

Up to a 5 Year Shelf Life

Beet
Cucumber
Eggplant
Endive
Squash
Tomatoes

Proper Storage Technique

  1. Make sure seeds are dry if harvesting them from your own garden and keep them dry if purchasing seeds.
  2. Pack them in paper envelopes and then store them inside an air tight container. Add a packet of silica gel to the container, if you have it, to help absorb any excess moisture. You can also sprinkle dry milk powder into the container to help absorb moisture.
  3. Ideally, seeds should be stored at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, in a dark, dry location. If you store your seeds in the refrigerator, allow the sealed container to reach room temperature before opening it to prevent condensation from forming.

Checking Seeds for Viability

The easiest way to check seeds for viability is to place 10 seeds on a wet paper towel. Fold the paper towel and then put the towel inside a ziplock bag with the zipper partially closed (leave about an inch open). Make sure you label the bag, so you know what's inside it. Place the bag in a warm place, such as the top of a refrigerator, and let it sit for a few days, or up to a week, then check to see if the seeds have germinated. If all don't germinate, never fear, just sow them a little more heavily in the garden.

Bonus Tip: Planting the Sprouted Seeds

You can also plant the seeds that germinated in the towel. Carefully pick them up with tweezers, make a tiny hole with the tip of a pencil in the soil, then gently pat the soil around the sprout. For very small seeds, you can lay them on top of the soil and press them slightly with your hand so they make contact with the soil.

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