Do Seeds Really Expire?

By Diane February 7, 2019 07:29

Do Seeds Really Expire?

We’ve all heard the news stories about seeds found in ancient tombs that germinated when planted; yet the seeds you buy are marked with expiration dates or with use by seasons. What is the truth about seed viability and how long do seeds keep? Here is what we know.

Seed Expiration

Seeds don’t really expire, however they may not germinate. The first year, you should get close to full germination. But each year that goes by, the germination rate will decrease each year. How long they remain viable depends on the type of seed you have and how they are stored.

How to Save and Store Seeds for Best Viability

Do Seeds Really ExpireWhether you are storing leftover seeds from year to year or seeds from your heirloom garden, it is best to store them in a cool, dry place. Put the seeds in an airtight container such as a jar with a tight lid, an old-fashioned film container, or as I do, sealed in mylar. Label and date the seeds and whenever possible, include the original information from the seed packet with the seeds. For seeds in packets, you can throw all the packets into a pint jar with a desiccant packet or a little rice in the bottom to absorb moisture and seal the jar tightly.

Harvesting Seeds from the Garden

If you are saving seeds from your garden, wait until the fruit or vegetable is fully ripe before harvesting and removing the seeds. Make sure the seeds are completely dry before placing them in the containers.

Then keep the seed containers in a cool, dry place that is temperature controlled. I would prefer to keep my seeds on a shelf in the basement, but for now I settle for a refrigerator shelf. My objection to the refrigerator is that most refrigerators are very humid, so seeds could have mold problems if your container seal isn’t tight.

When saving seeds from your garden, only save seeds from heirloom varieties. Hybrid seeds do not produce true from generation to generation and you could end up with a poor crop the following year.

How Long Do Seeds Keep?

If you kept your seeds in a cool, dry place, they likely will be viable the next year. However, plant a few more than usual because some may not germinate. In addition to storage, it depends on the kind of seeds you are storing. Some seeds need to be planted immediately, while other keeps for many years.

Related: The Only 6 Seeds You Need to Stockpile for a Crisis

Seed Viability

This chart indicates how long you can expect to get good viability out of your vegetable seeds. Seeds may germinate for a longer time, but it is hit or miss, so you should probably just start with fresh seeds. This chart is no guarantee of viability, remember there are many variables. These times are average, but may be much longer under ideal conditions:

Seed Viability Over Time

0 to 1 Year – Plant Now

  • Onion
  • Parsley
  • Parsnips

2 Years

  • Corn
  • Leeks
  • Okra
  • Peppers
  • Swiss Chard

3 Years

  • Bean seeds of all kinds
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Melons
  • Oriental greens
  • Peas
  • Rutabagas
  • Squash

4 Years

  • Collards
  • Fennel
  • Kale
  • Mustard
  • Pumpkin
  • Tomato
  • Turnips
  • Watermelon

5 Years

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Kohlrabi
  • Radish
  • Spinach

Storing Seeds in Less Than Ideal Conditions

Even when seeds are stored in less than ideal conditions, I have known seeds to germinate and produce a good crop after many years. A neighbor once purchased a large number of corn seeds one year, kept them in his garage, and used them with good results for over 10 years until he ran out. If I had done it, they probably wouldn’t have germinated at all; his thumb is greener than mine.

Seeds are living plants. Some will grow despite all odds, others won’t germinate even when kept in perfect conditions. In fact, many plants do best in adverse conditions. Its an improbable law of nature. So, before you toss those seeds out, plant a few or test them as I outline below. They may be viable for one more year.

Test Your Seeds

You can test your seeds in several ways. You can plant 5 to 10 and see how many germinate, but, for most seeds, it is probably easier to place several seeds on a pad of damp paper towels. Roll them up and place in a plastic bag. Put them in a warm place (but not hot, room temperature is ok.) Check them every few days to check for germination. If the seeds sprout, you’re good to plant. If not, toss them and start with fresh seed.

What About Survival Seed Vaults?

You’ll find many offerings online of survival seeds packed to keep for 20 to 25 years. Will these seeds really keep for 25 years? Unfortunately, the best answer I can give is “maybe.” So much depends on how the seeds are stored. The producers of these seed collections pack the seeds in mylar or in cans to keep the dry and dark. If you keep them stored in a cool environment, you will probably have viable seeds when you need them. For extra insurance, buy more seeds than you expect to need.

Another factor when considering seed vaults is that many are packed with popular seed varieties that may not grow in your area. Look for vaults that contain heirloom seeds that are known to grow well in your soil and weather.

I prefer to choose my seeds individually because many of the seeds in the popular vaults won’t grow in my area. I live in Florida, so I have specialized needs. If you live in other parts of the country, a vault with a large variety may work well for you.

Packing Your Own Seeds

My seed vault consists of packets of heirloom seeds that I have specifically chosen because I have good results with them in my area. I pack them together in a mylar bag with a desiccant package because it is always too humid here. I do not use an oxygen absorber, but some gardeners do. My theory is that seeds are living and therefore need some oxygen. I keep them in the refrigerator. I have only been saving them this way for about 5 years, but the ones I tested this year germinated perfectly. I expect to replace them about every 10 years, but they might last much longer.

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By Diane February 7, 2019 07:29
Write a comment


  1. Wannabe February 7, 13:13

    Keep in a freezer not refrigerated

    Reply to this comment
    • Armin February 7, 16:36

      Yes. Agree, Wannabe. Seeds should last almost forever in a freezer if packaged properly. Vacuum seal them and the whole bit. Might not be a bad idea to keep a small store of seeds like that every year from your harvest. Labeled of course. Preparation for you-know-what. Not so much if you just throw them into a container on a kitchen counter.

      Reply to this comment
      • PapaTom February 12, 11:46

        I buy my seeds in the fall when on sale and keep them in the freezer. I plant with seeds that have been in the freezer 9 to 10 years. I only have problems with kale and turnip seeds more then 5 years old. I have a chest type freezer full to the top with seeds going back up to 12 years. No problems with beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, etc.. just small seeds like onions and turnips. Germination problems past 5 years. Having more seeds are not to be considered a problem. Extra seeds are money in the bank. Only buy heirloom seeds for long term storage. Remember, it takes a five acre garden for a family of four for a yearly food supply with no outside sources coming in. And seeds would be worth more then money. Barter power.

        Reply to this comment
        • CarmenO February 12, 12:07

          Nice comment, asides from the “it takes a five acre garden for a family of four for a yearly food supply”. The chances of most people having a “garden” that large comes close to zero. You can feed plenty of people by changing the way most people grow food. Plenty of videos on YouTube on how to increase yield in much smaller properties. You need that much land if you intend to raise a couple of cows. Plus, you can go with vegetables and fruits that are more productive. You can find books going back to the 60’s on how to feed your family on one acre. Now you can find books on how to feed a family on even less space.

          Reply to this comment
          • Papatom February 12, 13:02

            The five-acre comment is if you’re in a situation where you do not have access to Abundant fertilizers mulch and the other things that you need to make smaller plots really thrive. Small plots simply will not produce crops like corn beans and squash in enough amounts for a family of 4 to have bread year around. The amount of food you produce from your garden spot must feed your family until next year’s crop is harvested. It is estimated that the keep a family of four in bread and other grains you need at least 50% of your garden spot the five acres I mentioned just for that produce. I am always considering the possibility of an unlikely event that will not allow me to run down to my friendly family Co-op to purchase mulch fertilizer potting soil Etc. Thank you for your reply

            Reply to this comment
        • CarmenO February 12, 15:17

          Strange your response to me and my response to you seem to be missing. Get real the one most likely to starve is you. Do you even have a backyard? That “I am always considering the possibility of an unlikely event that will not allow me to run down to my friendly family Co-op” says it all. Like I said, the vast majority of people in the US do NOT have five acres. And your concern is baking bread 365 days a year, by growing enough wheat and other grains? Do you have a large storage of flammable gasoline to run the machines for the harvest? Do you even have a hand mill? (I do and I don’t grow wheat, I will be able to trade.) I have 1/3 acre and still have plenty of squash left from last year. If you cut it up it freezes really well. I have jars and jars of canned tomatoes. Forget about fruits, I have enough to last me for years in the freezer and canned. Have you ever grown beans? Yes, corn doesn’t produce much based on the space they take. But not one starved for lack of corn, when just about everything else needs a lot less space. That’s the problem with sofa posters, you claim to know more than you do. (If you had a 5 acre farm why the heck would you need to go to the friendly coop, my oak trees drop enough leaves to cover the whole property (which they do) and all plant waste is enough to create plenty of compost. I don’t use chemical fertilizers. The farthest I would have to go is to our town’s leaf composting lot (I can walk there with my garden cart) and add some of my basement worms poop. LOL Get real, I provide my daughter and her husband with vegetable, seedlings, and fruit and they are part owners, along with his sibling of a 5,000 acre farm, now the largest in this part of the state. (They grow corn (non GMO), beans and potatoes, which they rotate, for bulk sales.)

          Reply to this comment
          • PapaTom March 29, 15:52

            I use diesel in my farm tractors, and have three grain mills. Tabletop manual, tabletop electric, and belt driven for my tractor that does bushels. And I guess I am spoiled since all my friends have farms. Not a city dweller. And I am not trying trying to start a fuss. What works for you, would not for me. I come from a family of farmers. My father’s family, my mother’s family, etc and before them, usually (and we are talking old time methods, making do, and no garden stores) planted 3 acres of corn and 4-5 acres of wheat for their needs. We all have different ways and means.. Thank you for your reply…

            Reply to this comment
          • Becky July 6, 11:41

            LOVE your response. How do you freeze squash. Been trying for years unsuccessfully

            Reply to this comment
    • leon February 9, 02:46

      if there is too much moisture in the seed freezing it will cause the seed to crack even though you may not see it killing the seed

      Reply to this comment
      • Armin February 9, 19:37

        Hi, Leon. Just to be clear, are you talking about the seed itself or just the shell of the seed? I know that many seed shells actually need to freeze and crack in the winter for the seed to sprout in the spring. Doesn’t seem to do the seed itself any harm. As an example, apricot seeds. Very tough shell. If it doesn’t crack in the winter, the seed has a very tough time coming up through it.

        Reply to this comment
        • leon February 13, 01:28

          just make sure there is not too much moisture in the seed I have accidentally did that and a lot of good seed was lost

          Reply to this comment
        • leon February 13, 01:33

          the seed itself some seed are very touchy been there done that I could of not dried them properly and killed the seed that way

          Reply to this comment
      • PapaTom March 29, 16:08

        Read about the vault built in a glacer to keep the worlds emergency seed stock protected. I would throw away seed that was over 10 years old, then was watching a show about the seed vault, and the scientist said seed frozen was was good for 1000 plus years. Research and read for yourself. Actually some seeds sprout better if frozen for a few weeks prior to planting. The freezing and thawing tell the seed winter is over and time to grow. And in response to another post, I have more then a backyard. I have 90 acres of which 70 is tillable, I use diesel tractors, and store average of 900 gallon on hand of farm grade with additives to store the fuel up to 15 years. I have always planned three years ahead and for “what if”
        My gardens are a bit larger then a backyard and my way was taught to me by my parents and grandparents and worked for their family before them. And we should all plan as if those convenient Garden stores will not always be there and be able to grow on without modern conveniences.

        Reply to this comment
      • PapaTom July 12, 18:47

        Never had a problem with any seed except onion and turnips. I buy my seed each year in the fall when it goes on sale. Keep it in a chest type freezer. With large dates wrote on the gallon zip locks. I usually use the oldest each year (oldest being 10 years old) Never have a problem except with onions. They are hard to germinate after 4 to 5 years. I perfect maple and pecan leaves for mulch due to low acid in the leaves. I tried oak leaves until the local AG office told me to either heavy lime the soil to kill the acid build up from the oak leaves or better yet stop using them. Next year garden really perked up in output.But again what works for some, doesn’t work for others. This year we’re using old hay we soaked to sprout the seeds before using as mulch, and cover. Thank you….

        Reply to this comment
  2. Hoosier Homesteader February 7, 14:08

    I think it’s a tendency for some people to make things more complicated than they need to be.
    I’ve been gardening for about 45 years now. I’ve never stored seeds in the frig. When we collect seeds for next years garden, we make sure they’re dry and put them in a marked envelope. Things like tomatoes, we dry on a paper towel. Once they’re dry, we leave them on the towel and put them in a zipper bag.
    As to storage, we use a very high tech device called a “box”. This high tech “box” is placed in a climate controlled environment called “the kitchen”.
    Think for a moment. Seeds fall to the ground and survive the winter in the wet and cold and dirt, then come up in the Spring with no help from us.
    Saving seed doesn’t have to be complicated.

    Reply to this comment
    • Prepper In Training February 7, 16:48

      Please be more specific. What material is your “box” made of? How big is it? Do you have to have it oriented in a particular manner in order for your seeds to survive?

      Same general questions about your “kitchen”. Have your workers been properly trained for maintaining seeds? If so, can you post your training manual so we can see it? With your special “kitchen”, how do you maintain a constant temperature?

      There are other questions that need to be asked/answered…

      I just thought I would start the day out right by asking the stupid questions first. In today’s high tech society, some people cannot see the beauty of simplicity, and instead opt for the government/scientifically approved methods. You know, the recommendations that got us into this mess in the first place.

      Hope you have a great day. And, may your high tech box never experience unwanted “mouse guests”.

      Reply to this comment
      • Hoosier Homesteader February 7, 20:32

        P I Training; I failed to mention ( my apologies) my elite security team that’s on guard 24/7 to fend off any “mouse guests”. They’re born and bred hunter killers. To most people, they’re just cats 🙂

        Reply to this comment
      • Spike February 7, 21:17

        LOL. Prepper in Training…I thought you were serious at first.

        Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck February 7, 16:49

      Dang, common sense, Hoosier. That’s not fair. That’s taking unfair advantage of all those who lack it. And, my friend, there is a serious shortage of common sense today. In fact, it is in such short supply I propose renaming it to uncommon sense.

      With the varied climate zones in the U.S. I have always been suspect of the seed vaults that were sold by suede shoe prepper salesmen. How well will seeds from Vermont do in SoCal? How well will plants that thrive in SoCal do in Fargo, ND? If you look at any of the seed catalogs, they always list what zones the plant will do well in.

      Remember if you are bugging out from Florida to Wyoming, the seeds you buy at the local garden shop probably will not thrive in Wyoming. You need to buy seeds that will do well where you are going to plant them.

      Reply to this comment
      • Hoosier Homesteader February 7, 20:40

        Hey, LCC; I’ve always done things the simple way first and see how it goes. Then adapt to my results.
        God knows how crazy we can get sometimes, so he put what we need to know right under our noses, like seeds that pop up in the garden after a harsh winter. All He requires from us is, that we’re smart enough to see it and follow His example.

        Reply to this comment
      • LouB February 7, 23:02

        Left Coast Chuck in what part of FL are you located? I am in the panhandle about 50 miles west of Tallahassee. I moved here from Wyoming 20 years ago. Had a wonderful garden there but here in this sand pit of my birthplace called Florida I can’t get a decent garden to grow no matter what seeds I plant. Do you have any suggestions for me? Well short of moving back to Wyoming. Kids said it was -15 with wind chill about -28 this morning. Old bones creak bad enough here.

        Reply to this comment
        • left coast chuck February 8, 02:42

          Sorry, Lou, but the left coast I refer to is the far left, bordering on the Pacific Ocean, sometimes referred to as the Peepuls Demakratik Republik of Kallyforniya.

          Go to a garden nursery and get suggestions for vegetables from their resident expert. Tell them you need good suggestions and ask to speak to their gardening expert. Most big nurseries have someone on staff who knows their stuff. Here in the PDRK, the county Ag commissioners have a program called Master Gardner. The folks who hold that credential have to complete a prescribed course of study successfully and there are other requirements. They usually are very interested in gardening and have theoretical as well as hands on experience. I don’t know if Florida has the same program but it wouldn’t hurt to call the office of whatever department of the county is listed as the Agricultural Commissioner, or Inspector or whatever. They can advise you both as to vegetables to grow and who to talk to.

          The only thing that I know of that you can grow at -15 is icicles.

          Reply to this comment
          • Loul February 8, 18:02

            Thanks for the information Chuck. I will see what kind of help I can get locally. No icicles around here with 75 degrees outside today. Ice maker has trouble keeping up with demand. Better than breaking off icicles for iced tea. lol. Have wonderful day and thanks again.

            Reply to this comment
        • Mark the hairless February 9, 08:39

          Dearest Louest.

          Thou must add rich organic material to your sand pit. Leaves, cow and horse excrement, grass clippings, etc. Here in New York we use newspaper articles about Chuck Schumer. Not too much ’cause he’s so full of it, a little goes a very long way.

          Reply to this comment
    • Armin February 7, 17:06

      I also adhere to the “KISS” principle, HH. I’m just a simple person so I also like to keep things simple. But it may not be a bad idea to keep a small store of seeds from your harvest every year in the freezer just in case. We never know what’s around the corner. Things may get really weird. I’ve heard that if you find mastodons, as an example, frozen in the tundra somewhere and dig them up apparently you can thaw them out and cook and eat them without any problems whatsoever. They’ve been frozen solid all this time. As an aside to frozen things apparently we are coming into a “super” solar minimum that’s supposed to last 20 or 30 years. Which means, that contrary to popular opinion, the climate will become quite a “bit” colder rather than warmer. We’ll have to wait and see. You asked me to “shoehorn” my progress with my feet in somewhere if I have a chance. If I try what so many kind people have advised as regards my foot rash and it works then it may also help others. I had some B12 on hand so I started with that. Been a good week now and it doesn’t seem to be doing much for my “rash” but it does seem to have improved my energy level. I’m back into exercising again and doing my best to do 300 pushups per day. It’s pretty tough going but most days I hit my target. And yes, Miss Kitty, I’ll make sure to see my doctor before February is over. This isn’t yet a SHTF situation so I still have the option to see a doctor. If we were deep in the middle of a crisis then my little “rash” might turn into a very serious problem. I’ll try and keep you apprised the best I can, HH, and if I do run across something that cures that darn rash I most definitely will pass it on. That’s the least I can do for all the wonderful advice that so many people were kind enough to give me. Again, my heartfelt thanks to all of you. 🙂

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck February 7, 19:30

        Armin: I have been using O’Keeffe’s Working Hands on my eczema. It hasn’t completely cleared up, but the ugly, angry red areas on my legs have now faded to a delicate pink and they don’t hurt/itch as they used to. I don’t know if it is placebo effect or the hand cream, but for $6.00 it’s worth a try. Hope it helps you if you decide to try it. So far I have used almost a whole jar to treat my legs and arms. I am fairly confident the eczema is due to a stressful situation in my life right now that I just have to deal with.

        Reply to this comment
        • Armin February 7, 21:24

          Thank you, Chuck. O’Keefe’s Working Hands is one I have never ever heard of. I’m so glad, though that it has helped you. I don’t have to tell you about ugly, red, itchy “rashes”. Horrible things. 🙁 I don’t even know if OWH is even available up here in the GWN. I have a TSC near me and if anyone would have it, they would. They have all kinds of farm supplies. Maybe also other creams or ointments that I could try. Thank you for that, Chuck. I’m pretty sure we’re all under a bit of stress right now but obviously some more than others. getting older doesn’t help either. Weird stuff happens when you get older. My gut feeling is that my particular problem is NOT due to stress or allergies. Will do my best to see my doctor before Feb. ends and hopefully he can give me a more definitive diagnosis. All the best to you, Chuck. Hope your eczema clears up completely. 🙂

          Reply to this comment
      • Hoosier Homesteader February 7, 20:26

        Thanks for the update, Armin; I’ll be watching 😉
        Pssst….. try the coconut oil…

        Reply to this comment
        • Armin February 7, 21:34

          Thanks, HH. You seem to put a lot of faith in coconut oil so I’ll give it a whirl. I have nothing to lose except you know what. I will keep you apprised and if one of the many things suggested works for me then hopefully it can also help others. That’s mainly why I’m doing it like this. To try and simulate SHTF conditions. Otherwise I’d just say the heck with it all and go see my doctor straight away. Thank you, sir. 🙂

          Reply to this comment
          • Hoosier Homesteader February 8, 00:26

            Armin, keep taking the B12! It’s good for you. And, if you’re not taking D3, take that also. About 3.000 IU’s a day; a 1,000 IU pill in the morning, and 2 before I “punch the bag and call tomorrow the next day.” Way up there where you are, I don’t imagine you get much sun. Our bodies don’t make vit. D, so suplimenting is a must.
            If you haven’t already, check out Dr. John Bergman on Youtube. His focus is on NATURAL health remedies. He has a B’zillion videos so I’m sure he’s got one custom made for you! Good Luck!

            Reply to this comment
            • Armin February 8, 23:49

              Thank you, HH, I’ll give that a try. You’re right. In the winter we certainly don’t get much sun. I’m at about 45 degrees north so subtract 23 1/2 from 45 and you get some idea how high the sun gets in the sky in the winter where I am. Sometimes guys are stupid and forget about their own health until it’s too late. I keep forgetting about Vit. D. There are also a few foods that contain Vit. D. Among them milk and milk products. Citrus fruit and juice and a few others that I can’t remember right now. Eat cheese every day. And I was wondering why I had such a hankering for oranges and orange juice lately. Obviously for the Vit. C in the winter but also for the Vit. D. Our bodies always know best if we only listen to them. 🙂 Thanks.

              Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck February 7, 21:33

        There is a seed storage facility somewhere in one of the Scandinavian countries where they store samples of every kind of seed ever collected. It would be very interesting to know just exactly how they store them, ie., what humidity, what temperature, spacing between seeds and probably a whole lot more specifications that don’t come to my untrained mind. That would knowing that information, how folks who are supposed to be professional at it, store their seeds would help eliminate some of the unanswered questions posed by this article.

        Reply to this comment
      • pbpossum February 7, 23:08

        Hi, I tried many times before to send comments to this site, they never appear, so now I’ll try “replying” to someone else…. For your rash(es), or most all problems, please get/read the book–The Cure For All Diseases, by Dr. Hulda R. Clark. Got it back in the late 90’s and it has been my bible ever since. Tried almost everything she says to do/avoid, and it works…..

        Reply to this comment
        • IvyMike February 8, 01:11

          My Sweety developed severe ‘eczema’ 25 years ago. We only go to Doctors when I need to get sewn up, which ain’t real common these days, so our approach to her problem was to treat it as an allergic reaction. I’m allergic to synthetic fabrics so we began by her going 100% cotton,too. Switched to Free and Clear type detergents with no dyes or perfumes, switched to clay body soaps. We have always lived the debt free life and worked hard so she was able to afford a body cream called LUSH Dream Cream which is absolutely hypo-allergenic. We also transitioned, for reasons of general health, to an extreme low carb gluten free diet. She went from terrible eczema rash everywhere to just an occasional flare up, but a few nights in a hotel with their sheets laundered in standard detergent will break her out all over.
          More completely free advice: prepare ALL of your meals at home from fresh ingredients. Eliminate ALL pesticides from your home and garden. We are 65, in great vigorous health, and haven’t seen a Dr. in 40 years, except for my Acupuncurist who is a Dr. of Traditional Chinese Medicine administering compassion as her number one drug.

          Reply to this comment
        • Armin February 9, 00:41

          Thanks, PB. I appreciate your kindness. 🙂 As for posting to this site, PB, no matter how you do it, your comments don’t appear right away. May take them several hours or even overnight. Don’t know why that’s so. I’m the worst typist in the world and it takes me forever to put a post together. I’ve had error messages come up (some of them seem really bogus) and then all that hard work, sometimes many hours of it, is gone forever into the black hole of the internet and I can’t get it back. So now, whenever I post on this site, and BEFORE I hit the “comment” button I copy and save my message so that if the site does swallow it then I just paste, re-post and resend my message. Problem solved. Hope this helps you. And if you want to see if it works just post a very short “test” message. One that you can afford to lose and post it in the main section other than replying to a post. It should appear a few hours later or at the very most the nest day. Doing it the way I suggest I haven’t lost another message on this site since. It’s really annoying when I put a really good message together and it’s 4 or 5 hours of work and then it’s gone. Beyond annoying.

          Reply to this comment
    • CarmenO February 8, 09:20

      I agree. I’m very low tech also and I have been at it for 55 years. That list is as inaccurate as it gets, the person got a couple right out of all the vegetables listed. My climate controlled environment is called “the basement” and the boxes are known as bins from Walmart. If you live in a swamp, don’t forget to wrap them in paper towel to control humidity.

      Reply to this comment
    • MrWolf December 6, 18:29

      I really enjoyed the discourse back and forth. There is a lot to “it’s all were your at”. But the basics apply. Speaking as someone who only has a 30 by 35 foot garden (my biggest ever(on my girlfriends half acre)) I have had amazing success with seeds from IFA seeds intermountain farmers association and compose provided buy my current 15 chickens. Even with three year old seeds I kept in the box method thru one wife and two GF changes. The ones that sprouted did well and even the volunteers the second year lol. My current GF a real keeper who was born and raised on a large farm I going to teach me how to add potato’s to my meager planting abilities. My dad who was raised on a farm in Tennessee always had a small garden an I hated helping him tend it but I’ve grown at least tomato’s everywhere I’ve lived except for the four years I was in the army. I think it’s a must have ability for everyone. Although so many now a days couldn’t grow a pile of compost. Lol

      Reply to this comment
  3. Kathy February 7, 15:19

    Do Not Buy seeds from oversea. They are irradiated. This kills the seeds and you pay for nothing. Especially China

    Reply to this comment
    • Armin February 9, 00:49

      I’ve also heard that, Kathy. Any food stuffs like that shipped across borders, especially from overseas is nuked. Isn’t it great that the Chinese are such good friends of ours. So many high quality goods come to us from China. And they even have their own representative on the NA continent in the form of Walmart. What a wonderful alliance. We are so blessed.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Martha February 7, 16:40

    We live in NC. We planted cherry tomatoes 4 years ago and had wild tomatoes 2 years in a row from seeds that fell to the ground, just like you said. This had never happened to us before and it was fun. Blessings.

    Reply to this comment
    • Johnny February 9, 06:49

      For decades I’ve been a composter, and put all kitchen vegetable scraps into the compost pile. Years ago, I had a volunteer tomato plant “grocery store” sourced] come up, and decided to “let it run” to see how it would do. Unusually, our weather here in far SE Texas, for two years, produced NO frosts or freezes. As a result, the seeds from that ‘grocery store” tomato provided LOTS of tomatoes, almost year round, on/off for two full years!!! Finally, we had a freeze [and I failed to cover the plant] and the plant was killed.

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  5. Storm February 7, 18:16

    I remember starting my gardening years with my Great Grandmother. She had a special garden area where the plants for seeds for the next year were grown. It received special attention to weeds and plant health. She said to plant enough for seed gathering to have enough seeds for three years in case there was a bad year for the plants. In the good years replace the seeds so always have a fresh three year supply.
    I was fortunate enough to garden with her for ten years.
    I remember that corn, and the sprawling plants like squash, cucumbers, pumpkins were not in her special area. They would have to fully mature before seeds would be collected anyway but a lot of other veggies would be picked before they would produce seeds for storage, ie, radishes, lettuce, green beans,and some others.
    Having the special growing area allowed for the main garden to be double planted or prepped without disturbing the seed producing plants.
    I was lucky to learn from GGma and GGpa many old ways since they were born in 1860 and lived to be 90 and 91 respectively and still able to live at home and be on the farm everyday.
    So I am lucky also to be able to pass on those lessons to my children that I learned from my GGma, GGpa, Gma and Gpa. My Mom and Dad were the “modern” life style, but since I grew up on the farm, I am the old ways Patriarch of the family now. Lol, yes I used a pitchfork to feed the animals and to load wagons with hay from the fields. Yes, I love the old way and electricity around here is still a luxury,if we lose it, we still have light, heat, cooked food, a solid roof over our heads and we do have modern wind generator and solar panels. LOL we love the old ways but we don’t get stupid and overlook the modern advantages ROFL

    The Best to All – Dog Stormeagle

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    • Armin February 9, 00:58

      That sounds like a really good idea to me, Storm. A dedicated area in the garden where you just grow everything for seeds. Excellent idea. Thank you. 🙂

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  6. left coast chuck February 7, 21:49

    Okay, here is some useful information. It is interesting the kind of research this website makes me do. This is technical information about how seeds are stored at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault located on Spitsbergen Island which belongs to Norway, which country helped initially fund the project.

    “The seed bank is 120 meters (390 ft) inside a sandstone mountain on Spitsbergen Island, and employs robust security systems. Seeds are packaged in special three-ply foil packets and heat sealed to exclude moisture. The facility is managed by the Nordic Genetic Resource Center, though there are no permanent staff on-site.

    “Spitsbergen was considered ideal because it lacked tectonic activity and had permafrost, which aids preservation. Its being 130 meters (430 ft) above sea level will keep the site dry even if the ice caps melt. Locally mined coal provides power for refrigeration units that further cool the seeds to the internationally recommended standard of −18 °C (−0.4 °F). If the equipment fails, at least several weeks will elapse before the facility rises to the surrounding sandstone bedrock’s temperature of −3 °C (27 °F), and is estimated to take two centuries to warm to 0 °C (32 °F).

    “A feasibility study prior to construction determined that the vault could preserve most major food crops’ seeds for hundreds of years. Some, including those of important grains, could potentially remain viable for thousands of years.”

    So there you have it. The folks who presumably know recommend triple layer foil packets stored at 0°F. If you want to preserve your seeds for at least a couple of hundred years.

    It turns out almost every country has a seed bank with seeds salted — excuse me, frozen away in case of some kind of catastrophic event.

    Hey, Armin, I wonder if mastodon frozen away in the tundra for a thousand years has freezer burn? I suspect there is a significant difference between edible and “Wow! This is great. I can see why the Neanderthals grooved on mastodon on the barbie.”

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    • Armin February 9, 00:23

      I love your sense of humour, Chuck. Only you would ask about mastodon freezer burn. You make me laugh and I need a good laugh every once in a while. RAOTFLMBO! I was going to tell you about the Svalbard Global Seed Vault but you beat me to it. It’s located above 78 degrees north so it’s definitely above the arctic circle, only 800 miles from the north pole. Frosty up there. Sonic boom when Santa goes by. And it’s mainly funded by the Billy Bob Gates foundation and various governments. So Gates even has his claws in this one. Maybe he’s not as dumb as he looks. LOL! I don’t know if my freezer even goes down to -18C. Those Neanderthals sound like a groovy bunch, baby, as Mike Meyers might say. LOL! BTW, Chuck, do you think those ‘thals had either natural gas, propane or charcoal barbies? My money’s on natural gas. Plenty of beans for supper. A few hoses. And bob’s your uncle! LOL!

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  7. Umpqua Doc February 7, 23:03

    My yearly visit to the LOCAL “Farmers Market” supplies me with fresh LOCALLY GROWN seeds for peppers, squash, and anything else grown locally. Here you get to pick the BEST of each variety for your stock and are already acclimated to your area not “tim-buc-to”. Home to the dehydrator and sliced and dried at room temp gives you plenty of seed for your yearly garden, to stockpile, share and you have the Dried Veggies for more uses or stock. It’s a CAN’T LOSE DEAL!
    PLUS Not only are the seeds you get there are Acclimated to your area and you have seen the results first hand. Now a “Pack of Seeds” are averaging 4.00+ a pack, Bell Peppers 2 for .89 and contain 50 to 100 seeds each, and you get to eat the peppers.
    Enjoy saving $, I do! So Enjoy……..
    @Hoosier where ya at, Ex Hammond in OR 45yrs.

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    • CarmenO February 8, 09:26

      LOL So let me get this, you grow vegetables and go to the farmer’s market to buy vegetable to save those seeds? Did I miss something?

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  8. Wannabe February 8, 02:56

    Just be sure your seeds are from non hybrid plants, non GMO, and you can harvest the seeds they produce. From what I have studied Burpee are all GMO.

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    • Armin February 9, 00:54

      That’s definitely a given, Wannabe. Check your packages before buying. We all love companies like Monsanto, don’t we? NOT!!!

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  9. andy February 8, 03:25

    4 years ago, I grew a white heirloom field corn, Hickory King, seed bought local from a store. About 20% of the crop produced a good, 2 stalk ear….so I saved the seed from those to plant the next year.

    For several reasons, I didn’t get around to using that seed, in fact, I didn’t even take it off the cob, it just hung in mesh bags on the garage wall. Mice ate some, bugs ate some, but I got a couple gallons of seed off it when I went thru it a few weeks back.

    Did a germination test by wrapping 20 seeds in wet paper towel inside a plastic baggie, set next to the wood stove for 3-4 days, and 16 of them sprouted….that’s an 80% rate of germination, which I didn’t think was too bad given the lousy storage and time past.

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  10. CarmenO February 8, 09:12

    There are so many inaccuracies in that list as to render it useless. If you want to really know how long they are likely to last, I suggest you buy or borrow the book Seed to Seed. It is based on actual extensive research and has been the bible for saving seeds for quite a while. Tomatoes just 4 years; peppers 2? Really. I guess there are a few right. I’ve been gardening for the last 55 years and that is the book I have gone by for a long time, being that I save a couple of hundreds of seeds, which I rotate when they get close to their viability (as in, I then plant and save new seeds, when it is the turn of a particular one, since I have too many kinds to plant the same varieties years after year. You can enter the information on your computer or write them by hand and store the information to use every year.

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  11. radarphos March 4, 16:17

    I write this comment BEFORE READING YOUR ARTICLE. As much as I know that is unwise, I want to talk about “bird seed” that homeowners buy during snowy-cold winter-time (that always seems to last 6 mos of the year in northern states.
    I bought fresh bird seed one year, and had left overs the next year, that I put out, and in the 2nd year several birds tried it and all flew away!.
    Now, I stored the seed in its original plastic bag, tied tightly with wire. It remained in my basement (vented for heat during winter and AC during summer, and temp averaging 60 degrees F or less. There is nothing more that I can say about the seed.

    On the other hand, I bought Sprout Seeds (most of them 4 day water soak + rinse sprouts, and I store them in their original bags, and also in another air tight container. And they have germinated…still… 3 years later.

    I am just reporting info from personal experience. I do not have any particular facts to explain my experience with bird seed for winter bird feeding, verses sprout seeds for human consumption.

    What I will conclude is that the bird seed was plenty old when I bought it, and worked well one year only. And the Sprout Seeds were young and “ready” when I bought it and has lasted me 3-4 years now.

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