How to Freeze Vegetable Seeds for Storage
Storing seeds long term is a wise strategy if you grow heirloom plants or even if you just bought more seeds than you were able to use. Saving seeds from the plants you grow can save you money and also gives you the satisfaction of being more self-sufficient.
Storing Seeds Long Term
Storing seeds long term can be done in several ways depending on how long you want to store your seeds. If you just want to hang on to your extra seeds to plant next year, you may try storing seeds in plastic bags or in a kitchen cabinet or drawer. However, you may not get all the seeds to germinate next year. If you save heirloom seeds or rely on your saved seeds for your food supply each year, this is a less than desirable outcome.
If you want to store your seeds for longer than a year or if you want to ensure that you have a higher germination rate, you’ll want to consider storing seeds in the fridge or storing seeds in the freezer. Either option works well, but for the longest storage time, freezing seeds is usually the best option as long as you do it correctly.
Storing Seeds in the Freezer vs. Refrigerator
Seed banks store their seeds in the freezer because it offers the longest-term storage. They may keep rare seeds stored for many years and need to ensure that the seeds stay safe and viable. However, seed banks also have specialized equipment for freezing seeds that the average homeowner doesn’t. For this reason, some people think freezing seeds isn’t an option for everyday gardeners, but this is not correct.
Freezing seeds at home doesn’t harm most seeds, and in fact, some seeds need to be frozen or at least refrigerated before they will germinate. According to Colorado State University Extension, properly stored seeds can last for 10 years or more. The main advantage for the home gardener who wants to store seeds in the freezer is that the freezer is opened far less often than the refrigerator. Storing seeds in the fridge may subject them to temperature fluctuations and humidity. Dry seeds stay viable longer, and humidity and temperature fluctuations can kill seeds.
Preparing Seeds for Storage
After collecting your seeds, it’s important to dry them. Moisture can cause mold to grow and will also create ice crystals inside the seed once frozen. Colorado State University recommends spreading seeds outside to dry them thoroughly and cautions against drying them in an oven or microwave, as this may overdry the seeds. Test your seeds for dryness by breaking one. If it snaps or breaks easily, it is dry. If it bends or mushes, it’s not dry enough.
Dry seeds can be put in individual envelopes labeled with the name of the plant and the year the seed was collected. You might want to add additional notes, such as growing requirements for the plant or anything that you’d like to note from the previous season. The envelopes should then be put in airtight seed storage containers. Storing seeds in plastic bags is not usually recommended because seeds are not as well protected as they are in airtight seed storage containers.
More Seed Storage Tips
The University of Minnesota Extension suggests using silica packs or powdered milk in the bottom of the storage container to absorb moisture. You can find silica packets at most craft stores. Purdue University recommends dry rice for the same purpose. Be sure to use a paper towel between the seeds and the moisture absorber. Then, place the container in the back of the freezer, where it is less likely to be disturbed.
When you are ready to plant your stored seeds, remove the seeds you need from the storage container and allow them to thaw at room temperature for 24 hours. Make sure to look over all of the seeds and dispose of any that may have become moldy. Once your seeds are thawed, plant as you usually would and note your germination rate as well as any other information that you may need for the following year.
How to Freeze Vegetable Seeds for Storage. Frugal gardeners and those growing heirloom vegetables know the value of saving seeds from one year to the next. Most garden seeds can be saved for multiple years, as long as they are kept cool and dry. The freezer can be the ideal place to store your seeds long term, as long …
6 Tips for Storing Seeds Saved From Your Own Garden
A little powdered milk can help you grow your favorite plants again and again.
You’ve harvested your summer seeds and now it’s time to store them to help you get a jump-start on next season — but storing them improperly could make your dreams of a bountiful garden fall flat. Follow our easy guide to storing your saved seeds that will save you time and money and give you your best harvest yet.
1. Dry the seeds.
If you’re gathering and saving seeds from your own plants, spread the seeds on newspaper and let them air-dry for about a week. Write seed names on the newspaper so there’s no mix-up. Pack the air-dried seeds in small paper packets or envelopes and label with the plant name and other pertinent information. Remember, if you want to save your own seeds, you’ll need to plant open-pollinated varieties. They’ll come back true; hybrids won’t.
You can also dry saved seeds on paper towels. They’ll stick to the towels when dry, so roll them up right in the towel to store them. When you’re ready to plant, just tear off bits of the towel, one seed at a time, and plant seed and towel right in the soil.
2. Stash them somewhere airtight.
Put the packets inside plastic food storage bags, Mason jars with tight-fitting lids, or glass canisters with gasketed lids.
To keep seeds dry, wrap two heaping tablespoons of powdered milk in four layers of facial tissue, then put the milk packet inside the storage container with the seed packets. You can also add a packet of silica gel in with the seeds. Replace every six months.
3. Put the containers in a dry and cool place.
Humidity and warmth shorten a seed’s shelf life, so the refrigerator is generally the best place to store seeds, but keep them far away from the freezer.
4. Toss any seeds pass their prime.
Store each year’s seeds together and date them. Because most seeds remain viable about three years, you’ll know at a glance which container still has planting potential.
5. Prepare for planting.
When you’re ready to plant, remove the containers from the refrigerator and keep them closed until the seeds warm to room temperature. Otherwise, moisture in the air will condense on the seeds, causing them to clump together.
6. Expect a few duds.
Even if you’re organized, methodical, and careful about storing seeds, accept the fact that some seeds just won’t germinate the following year. Home gardeners will find that stored sweet corn and parsnip seeds in particular have low germination rates, and other seeds will only remain viable for a year or two.
Saving seeds for next year? You’ll need to store them properly to ensure good germination.