How to Store Vegetable Seeds

How to Store Vegetable Seeds

When properly stored, vegetable seeds can last for years. Here’s some basic steps to ensure your vegetable seeds will remain viable.[1]

  1. 1. DETERMINE WHETHER THE SEEDS CAN BE STORED
  2. Not all seeds can be stored. If the seeds are “orthodox” you should be able to store the seeds for years by drying them as described below and keeping them refrigerated or frozen in airtight containers. If the seeds are “intermediate,” storage is trickier — you might be able to store them refrigerated. For more information about seed types see The Difference between Orthodox, Intermediate, and Recalcitrant Seed.
  3. 2. COLLECT RIPE AND HEALTHY SEEDS
    Ripe orthodox seeds are typically firm and dry and are often darker than unripe seeds. After collection, treat them like fresh produce – they are alive. In the humid climate of Hawaii it’s important to process seeds soon after collecting them.
  1. 3. DRY SEEDS TO THE CORRECT MOISTURE LEVEL FOR STORAGE
    You can remove moisture from seeds by placing them in your refrigerator or allowing them to air dry. Due to our warm and wet weather in Hawaii, a better result may come from using your refrigerator.
    • Option A – Dry Seeds in Your Refrigerator
      Spread the seeds in a thin layer (if you have space to do so) and leave them in your fridge a month or so. Large seeds with thick, hard coats like beans may take longer.
    • Option B – Dry Seeds at Room Temperature
      Place the seeds in an airtight plastic container with one or more packets of Silica Gel. Silica Gel is also an option for keeping your seeds dry during storage (discussed below).
  2. 4. STORE THE SEEDS
  3. Seeds of most garden and crop plants store best when kept dry at low temperatures. It’s best to freeze seeds, second-best to refrigerate them, and third-best to store them at room temperature – always in airtight containers.

Option A – Store Seeds in Fridge or Freezer / Use Calcium Chloride

Seeds stored in the fridge or freezer can be kept dry with Calcium Chloride aka “Damp Rid.” Mix a little Calcium Chloride with a little water until it’s the texture of soggy shaved ice. Put the mixture in the airtight storage container with the seeds, but not touching them.

Option B – Store Seeds at Room Temperature / Use Silica Gel

Seeds stored at room temperature can be kept dry with Silica Gel. You can save Silica Gel packets that come with parcels or buy them online. Silica Gel is used to dry flowers and is readily available at craft stores.

  1. 5. PREPARE SEEDS FOR SOWING
    Stored seeds can become damaged if they absorb water too fast, so when you remove them from storage to plant, allow them to absorb moisture from the air before sowing. In Hawaii, you can simply expose the seeds to open air for a couple of days. In other regions you can put them in a sealed plastic container with a damp paper towel. Under good storage conditions, vegetable seeds can be viable for years.
Vegetable Seed Longevity Under Good Storage Conditions[2] 
1-2 years
  • Leek
  • Okra
  • Onion
  • Parsley
  • Parsnip
  • Pepper
  • Sweet Corn
3 years
  • Bean
  • Broccoli
  • Carrot
  • Celeriac
  • Celery
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Kohlrabi
  • Pea
  • Spinach
4-6 years
  • Beet
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Fennel
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Pumpkin
  • Radish
  • Squash
  • Tomato
  • Turnip
  • Watermelon

Wishing you the best in your gardening endeavors and healthy eating!


REFERENCES

[1] Adapted from Guidelines for Successful Seed Storage by Alvin Yoshinaga / April 2010.

[2] Vegetable Seed Longevity Under Good Storage Conditions by Russell Galanti, Master Gardener Coordinator for East Hawaii / February 2022.

Published by BiggerIsland.com

Aloha! I’m a real estate agent on the wonderful and amazing Big Island of Hawaii. I live up the hill from Keauhou Bay, just south of downtown Kailua-Kona. I love to help people. If I can be of assistance, get in touch.

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