For anyone prepping for an emergency, storing seeds for future use is very important. If society breaks down long term, you need to have a way to grow your own food when trips to the grocery store are no longer a reality.
While many people store seeds, a high number are either storing them incorrectly or not considering ways that seeds can be negatively impacted because of seed storing conditions. You don’t want to rely on seeds for your survival garden, only to discover your seeds aren’t sprouting.
When storing vegetable seeds for long-term use, there are several common mistakes that people make, which can negatively impact seed viability and germination rates. These mistakes include:
Improper storage conditions
Seeds should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry environment to maintain their viability. Storing seeds in a warm, humid, or brightly lit area can reduce their shelf life and decrease germination rates.
Insufficient moisture control
Moisture is a significant factor that affects seed longevity. Seeds should be stored in an airtight container with a moisture-absorbing desiccant, such as silica gel packets, to maintain a low humidity level. Seeds can quickly spoil if moisture is in the packaging.
Inadequate pest protection
Seeds can be vulnerable to insect infestations and rodent damage. Storing seeds in airtight containers made of durable materials, such as plastic or metal, can help protect them from pests.
Poor seed quality
The quality of the seeds you store is crucial for successful germination. Saving seeds from unhealthy plants or those that have been cross-pollinated can lead to poor germination rates and subpar plants. This is not an area where you want to rely on the cheapest seed source or dollar store seeds – that said, dollar store seeds are an inexpensive way to supplement your seeds store, but you don’t want them to be your only seed source.
Not saving seeds correctly
If you are saving your own seeds, and ensuring they are heirloom variety, you will want to ensure you are saving seeds correctly. Different seed types may require additional steps or require drying longer than you anticipate before storing them in a sealed container. Be sure to know how to save seeds from your garden.
Lack of organization
Failing to label and organize your stored seeds can make it difficult to identify different varieties and track their age. Properly labeling seeds with their variety name, harvest date, and any other relevant information for planting and growing is essential for successful long-term storage.
Not rotating your seed stock
Using older seeds first and replenishing your seed stock regularly can help ensure that you are always planting seeds with the highest viability. Not rotating your seed stock can lead to a decline in germination rates over time. Utilize the First In First Out strategy for planting seeds in your garden too!
Storing seeds in paper or cloth bags
While these materials can be used for short-term storage, they are not suitable for long-term storage as they do not provide adequate protection against moisture and pests. Instead, use airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags.
Not testing seed viability
Before planting seeds that have been stored for an extended period, it’s a good idea to test their germination rate by performing a germination test. This will give you an idea of the seed quality and help prevent wasted time and resources on planting non-viable seeds. Some preppers will also test germination on seeds before storing them as well.
Failing to acclimate seeds
Yes, some seeds are more sensitive to acclimation. If seeds have been stored in a cool environment, such as a refrigerator, they should be allowed to slowly acclimate to room temperature before planting. Sudden temperature changes can cause condensation to form inside the storage container, potentially harming the seeds.
Not researching seed storage requirements
Different seed varieties may have specific storage requirements. Researching the best storage methods for each type of seed you are storing can help ensure their long-term viability. This is especially true if you are storing your own seeds you have saved from your garden.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can help ensure the successful long-term storage of your vegetable seeds and improve the chances of successful germination and healthy plant growth when it is time to plant them.