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How to store seeds for next year’s planting

Saving seeds is one of the most time-honored traditions of not only home gardening, but also agriculture and human life as a whole. Saving seeds is a simple process, that only takes a plant and time to complete. Once you have your seeds picked from the plant that you’d like to save, whether it be a perennial or annual, you’re already half way there to getting your seeds ready for the next year’s planting.

As explained in the Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan, “most seeds can be stored for at least a year and still germinate, as long as the storage conditions are right. Temperature is critical. Try to keep seeds consistently cold, or at least cool; fluctuating temperatures can be fatal. The refrigerator, or any other place that stays just above freezing, is ideal for storing most seeds. They can also be stored in the freezer, but they must be completely ripe and very dry.”

“Moisture may be an even more important factor. Since seeds begin to germinate when they absorb water, moisture is the death of seeds in storage. Always dry seeds thoroughly before placing them in storage containers. Make sure the containers themselves have no trace of moisture inside and that no moisture can enter them,” continues the Backyard Homestead.

An easy way to dry seeds and ensure that moisture will not be a problem over the course of storage, is to seal your seeds with silica gel packets. These are the gel packets that come with shoes, electronics, and can be purchased either online or at a camera shop.

Make sure that all of your seed containers are well labeled, with variety names included. Once all of your seeds are in storage containers, it will be difficult to tell the difference between, say, a cherry tomato and a slicing tomato. With this in mind, make your labels before storage and label your containers before you put seeds in them.

After your seeds have been stored and the cold of winter has subsided, your seeds will be there ready for planting in the new year. A benefit to saving your own seeds, is that over time your seeds may begin to evolve into a variety of your very own, pollinated by other plants in your garden or landscape. Save your seeds when possible and you’ll end up saving some money too.

Whispering Hills Garden and Landscape Center is a full service landscape center and nursery located in Cary, Illinois. Stop in today to schedule a Spring 2022 cleanup. (Updated: 12/10/21)

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