Instructions – Instructions –
- Use either a paper cutter or scissors to cut the paper into squares measuring 4 inches by 4 inches.
- Fold the square in half – Corner to corner, fold the square of paper in half. Take your time aligning the borders so they are straight.
- Invert the bottom corners – Invert the two bottom corners of the page so that they overlap. Align them with the bottom of the envelope and ensure that they are even on both sides so that the seed package is square.
- To securely hold the flap in place, tuck the corner of one flap inside the fold of the other. The grip will be firmer the more forcefully you press the wrinkles.
Use either a paper cutter or scissors to cut the paper into squares measuring 4 inches by 4 inches. Fold the square in half – Corner to corner, fold the square of paper in half. Take your time aligning the borders so they are straight. Invert the bottom corners – Invert the two bottom corners of the page so that they overlap.
How long may a seed package be stored?
Each winter, I begin to consider which seeds I may plant in my garden throughout the spring and summer. Before I go too far into my planning, I rummage through the half-empty packets of seeds left over from the previous year (and in some cases, several years) and determine whether any of them are still viable.
I often shrug, sow the seeds, and wait to see what transpires. If the seeds do not germinate, I purchase replacements. By the time I discover that the seeds have not germinated, I may be weeks behind my original planting timetable. This year, though, I decided to investigate the longevity of seeds. I was quite shocked to hear that seed viability varied significantly by plant type.
The viability of seeds also varies based on whether they have been pretreated or pelletized. Even under excellent storage conditions, viability varies. This fact did not surprise me. Seeds should be kept in circumstances that are cold, dry, and dark. Place the seeds in an airtight, waterproof container, such as a jar with a rubber closure (such as a baby food jar or a canning jar) or a zip lock bag placed within a jar.
Some individuals store the seeds in a jar in the refrigerator or freezer to keep them cold (preferably below 50 degrees). Seeds that are in good condition and carefully stored will remain viable for at least one year, and depending on the plant, two to five years. On the internet, I saw several statistics displaying the average shelf life of properly maintained vegetable and flower seeds.
These sources are given in the table below. Here is a condensed form for several vegetable seeds: Onions, parsnips, parsley, salsify, and spinach for 1 year Two years: maize, peas, beans, chives, okra, and dandelion. Carrots, leeks, asparagus, turnips, rutabaga; three years Four years: bell peppers, chard, pumpkins, winter squash, watermelons, basil, artichokes, and cardoons.
- The majority of brassicas, beets, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, muskmelons, celery, celeriac, lettuce, endive, and chicory mature in 5 years.
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds (http://www.johnnyseeds.com/t-faq.aspx#questionshelflife) If you are unsure if seeds will sprout, you may do a simple germination test.
Count a specified number of seeds, between 10 and one hundred. Place the seeds on a paper towel or coffee filter that has been moistened with water. Fold or roll the damp paper over the seeds so that they do not touch, then place the paper inside a plastic bag in a warm location.
- After two or three days, check the seeds daily for approximately one week.
- As needed, spritz the paper to retain dampness.
- After the typical germination period (as indicated on the seed packet) has passed, count how many seeds have germinated and compute the germination percentage by dividing the number of germinated seeds by the total number of seeds tested.
Compare the germination % to the germination rate (if any) listed on the label of the seed packet. If the seed germination rate is high, it is safe to sow the seeds. If the germination rate is poor, additional seeds may need to be purchased. Sources for table of seed viability: Vegetable seeds Extension of the Iowa State University: http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/1995/3-3-1995/seedv.html Virginia Cooperative Extension: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-316/426-316.html Vegetable and floral seeds Clear Creek Seeds: http://www.clearcreekseeds.com/seed-viability-chart/ Hill Gardens: http://hillgardens.com/seed longevity.htm
★ How to: Make Free Seed Packets (No Scissors or Glue Needed)
The accompanying table detailing the storage life of typical garden plants may assist you in determining whether seeds are worthwhile. However, the conditions under which seeds are kept impact their ability to germinate the next year as much or more than their species.
|Plant||Expected Storage Life (Years) Under Favorable Conditions||Plant||Expected Storage Life (Years) Under Favorable Conditions|
table>_ Vegetables* Annual Flowers** Bean 3 Ageratum 4 Carrot 4 Alyssum 4 Corn, Sweet 3 Aster 1 Cucumber 5 Calendula 5 Kohlrabi 3 Celosia 4 Lettuce 6 Coleus 2 Muskmelon 5 Cosmos 3 Okra 2 Dahlia 2 Onion 1 Dianthus 4 Parsnip 1 Geranium 1 Pea 3 Hibiscus 3 Pepper 2 Hollyhock 2 Pumpkin 4 Impatiens 2 Radish 5 Lobelia 3 Spinach 3 Marigold 2 Squash 4 Nasturtium 5 Tomato 4 Nicotiana 3 Turnip 4 Pansy 1 Watermelon 4 Petunia 2 Phlox 1 Poppy 4 Salvia 1 Verbena 1 Vinca 1 Zinnia 5 _
The Knott’s Guide for Vegetable Growers ** Hill Gardens of Maine, www.hillgardens.com/seed longevity.html
Why are farmers prohibited from saving seeds?
Farmers that opt to plant genetically modified (GM) seed sign a contract indicating that they would not preserve their seed for the following year. The protection of GMO seed under intellectual property laws. The act of replanting this seed the next year violates a contract and is prohibited by intellectual property law.
Keeping your preserved seeds – Store seeds in glass containers with airtight seals. You can store many types of seeds in separate paper packets in a single huge container. Keep seeds cold and dry. The optimal temperature for storing seeds is between 32 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit, thus the refrigerator is a suitable location.
A modest quantity of silica-gel desiccant put to each container will absorb airborne moisture and assist in keeping the seeds dry. For drying flowers, craft supply stores sell silica gel in bulk. Milk powder can also be used as a desiccant. Employ one to two spoonful of newly opened milk powder. Wrap the powder in cheesecloth or a face tissue and set it among the seeds in the container.
Milk powder will absorb excess humidity from the air for approximately six months. Label your preserved seeds with their name, variety, and the date they were gathered. The specifics are easily forgotten by the following spring. Utilize seed preserved within a year.