Are you interested in learning how to store seeds long term? The truth is, storing seeds should be on the to-do list for any survivalist out there.
But storing seeds isn’t as straightforward as you’d think.
It may be easy to think you could load up on a bunch of different seeds and call it good, but there are many things you know in advance to be successful.
This article will help show how to store seeds long term and also inform you on taking protective measures to ensure that your seeds will be safe and viable for when that emergency situation ever occurs.
Get ready, and let’s dive in.
1. Certain Seeds Are More Viabile Than Others
While it is true that seeds do not expire, they can become less viable over time. It means that after a set amount of years pass, the chances of your seeds germinating start to decrease.
The reason is that the endosperm, an oily coating surrounding the seed’s embryo, weakens as time passes. It is a natural phenomenon, and it can not be prevented.
That said, it is important to know that some seeds can remain viable longer than others. Vegetables such as onions, garlic, and peppers are only viable for 1-2 years.
On the other hand, other crops, such as lettuce, radish, and cucumbers, can remain viable for 5-6 years.
Whatever seeds you decide to store long-term, be sure to do research on how long they can be viable based on the crop. A good survivalist would still have a variety of seeds but would also keep in mind that some crops will be harder to grow later down the line as time passes.
2. Consider Going for Crops That are Easier to Grow
Aside from viability, you should also consider crops that would be the easiest to grow in abundance.
Most people opt for having a wide variety of seeds. It makes sense because you wouldn’t want to get tired of eating the same thing daily. But remember that each crop grows slightly differently, so jugging multiple different ones makes it more challenging.
Thinking as a survivalist, you would ideally want to have options that are easy to grow so it would provide food as fast as possible.
Potatoes are not only delicious but easy to grow as they just require loose soil and sunlight. Beans, too, are easy because they can grow in poor-quality soil and can grow in hot or cold climates.
Fruits can be more challenging to grow because they require more water. If water isn’t a problem, then consider growing strawberries and raspberries. As long as they are in a position where they get direct sunlight and water, then they will thrive.
3. Seeds Must Be Harvested From Healthy Plants
If you plan on harvesting seeds from your fruits and vegetables, then you need to know to harvest only from the most healthy of the crop.
Like people, crops can inherit genes from a parent. Healthy genes can help a plant be more resistant to diseases and more durable to bruising. If you harvest seeds from a diseased crop, then chances are the offspring will have the same issues that its parents did.
With that in mind, you must be very considerate of the parent plant you are harvesting from. Be observant of characteristics that demonstrate signs of a healthy plant.
You must know the physical signs of poor genetics in plants. Tomatoes, for example, can suffer from a disease called bacterial canker. Its characteristics are having yellow and brown colored spots on the leaves. The leaves may also curl, and the tomatoes may have sores on the skin.
Bacterial canker is a seed-born disease, which means if you harvest from a plant that has it, then your crops will likely develop it. Pick parents that display healthy characteristics. Signs of a healthy plant can be firm leaves, well-formed flowering, and strong roots.
3: Seeds Must Be Stored In A Sealed Container
Seeds need to be stored in an air-tight container to stay dormant longer. Sealed containers are also more likely to keep your seeds safe from pests and insects trying to eat them.
There are several different types of containers you could use.
Mylar bags are the best for keeping oxygen out of the seeds. They are made of aluminum and are designed to keep food stored long-term.
Glass jars could also be an alternative, but they must be air-tight. Mason jars, in particular, are the ideal choice, as they can be canned. Some people may also use glass baby food containers or pasta sauce jars. Be sure to keep the lids to seal them if you use these alternatives.
You could also use certain plastic containers. Vitamine or prescription bottles have been proven to be efficient as they are small and durable. Some people even claim to use old film containers as a method.
Certain plastic bags, such as zip-lock, can be used. Out of all the methods, this is the least recommended, however. The reason why is that they are the least durable for protection against critters.
Ultimately, the best method could depend on if you are limited in space. If you are, using small plastic containers may be the best way.
If you want to learn how to organize our seeds, check out the video below.
4: Moisture Can Cause Your Seeds to Sprout Early
This may not be a big surprise, but water is one of the essential things seeds need to sprout, and as it turns out, they don’t need very much to get started.
Using a proper container that seals should keep the moisture out, but one common mistake is not drying your seeds well and getting the moisture out of them.
It is common for people to rinse their seeds before storing them. In fact, you should rinse them to remove any bacteria or bugs that could linger on the seeds.
You must make sure your seeds are well-dried before storing them. Even an ounce of moisture in one seed could cause multiple seeds to grow. If that happens, you will need to throw them out or plant them immediately.
Making sure your seeds are dry does take time. Some say to keep them in a dry environment for two weeks, while some who are more cautious would recommend a full month.
A good method for drying them fast would be to put the wet seeds inside a container with a water-absorbent product. Some examples people recommend are silica gel packets, powdered milk, and rice.
5: The Wrong Temperature Can Ruin Your Seeds
Storing your seeds in a room that fluctuates in temperature can have negative effects.
It is important to know that temperature is the cue for when seeds begin to germinate. If they are in a temperature that is over 60 degrees Fahrenheit, then it could trigger the germination process.
You do not want your seeds to germinate unless you are ready to plant them. To avoid this, you must keep your seeds stored in a room with a temperature of around 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
Some people like to store their seeds inside their freezer in the fridge. While it is doable, it is not recommended. The reason is that you risk the seeds thawing.
It’s generally not good for seeds to be thawed and refreeze gain, as it causes decay it reduces viability. The only time you would want to take them out to thaw is when you are ready to plant them.
The best method would be to store them in a pantry or any cool dark place that has a stable temperature. This way, you do not have to worry about the decay of your seeds from the thawing and refreezing process you would get from the freezer.
6: Light Can Also Ruin Your Seeds
Aside from temperature and moisture, the final necessity a seed needs to thrive is light.
You must not have any light source shining on the seeds. Light exposure can cause the seed to decompose carbon acid gas and expel oxygen. It results in the seed hardening and prevents it from being able to grow.
As you would expect, sunlight is socially important to keep off the seeds. Not only can it cause it to sprout prematurely, but it could also cause your seeds to decay faster than usual.
If light is an issue, you could buy an opaque container for your seeds, as they are efficient for blocking light. If your seeds are stored in a see-through container, you must store them in a dark place.
7: Pests Will Try to Eat Your Seeds
If you think temperature, moisture, and light are the only things you need to worry about, guess again.
Pests such as insects and rodents will try to break into your seed stash. Both insects and rodents can pose different challenges. Thankfully, a lot of the head ach can be avoided with a little extra precaution of how and where you store them.
If you feel like rodents are after your seeds, then the best thing you can do is simply add another layer of protection to your storage container. For example, if your seeds are stored in a plastic bag, put that bag in a more rodent-proof container such as Tupperware.
Putting a container within a container can be annoying and cumbersome, though. You can instead upgrade your container to something more durable, like glass jars or sealable tin cans.
If you use glass jars, beware of setting them on high shelves, as rodents could knock them off and shatter the glass.
Insects, on the other hand, are more of a challenge to get rid of. They can be more devastating because it can be hard to detect an early infestation, and when it becomes obvious, chances are it’s too late to act because the damage has already been done.
The most common insects to invade seed containers are usually ants, beetles, and moths. If you suspect insects are in your seeds, then the solution is to re-seal that container and put it into a freezer for two days. The insects should die, and you can safely restore your seeds.
8: Germination Tests Should Be Considered
Any survivalist storing seeds for the long term should consider doing a germination test, especially on seeds that are past due their viable years.
A major mistake any survivalist could make is unknowingly having a bad stock of seeds. Germination tests are important because they allow you to see the results and determine if your seeds should be replenished.
Doing a germination test is easy to do.
First, you need to select the seed species you wish to evaluate. After you choose, take a reasonable sample size (around 20-25 seeds should work).
The second step is to place your seeds on an absorbent paper towel. Gently dampen the paper towel with water and fold it to cover the seeds.
For the third step, take your seeds covered in the damp paper towel and put them in a zip-lock bag or a jar. Leave seeds in a warm place (70 degrees Fahrenheit is a good minimum temperature).
Spending n the seeds could take anywhere between 2-14 days to get results. If 70% of your seeds begin to sprout, your stock is in good shape.
Check out the video below if you wish to see someone performing this test in action.
At this point, you should now know storing seeds is more of a process than one would think.
To be successful, you must know how to store seeds long-term properly. If you approach the process with some thought, such as getting proper containers for your seeds and being mindful of where you store them, you shouldn’t have to worry too much.
Lastly, good survivalist knows never know to let their guard down. Take the extra initiative to test your seeds every few years. Remember, the whole point is to be prepared for when a disaster can strike and improve the odds of obstacles.