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applestar
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How to and Tips for Saving/Storing Seeds?

This seems like the best forum for this -- I've never seriously saved seeds from year to year before. Oh, I have a zip bag labeled foxglove and the year or a snap lid container of something else, but I'm hoping folks who's been doing this for years have some wisdom to impart? :wink:

Could someone start a sticky? Best storage methods, what to include on the label, how to manage the sudden influx of all the different seeds that needs to be harvested RIGHT NOW, etc. :mrgreen:

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bonsaiboy
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It is best to leave the seed coat on while the seed is being stored. I usualy add a small amount of mosture absorber (like salt) to help keep them viable, but this may not be a good idea for some species that may like it humid/moist. Unless the seed is ultra tropical, it is a good idea to keep them cool.
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bonsaiboy
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Oh, and a few tropical seeds (like that of the Ice cream bean) have to short of viability to be stored at all; some germinate while still in the fruit. Just thought you'd like to know this.
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cynthia_h
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Not to rain on your parade, applestar, but there have been whole books written about saving and preserving seeds.

I just (coincidentally) ordered one online: Seed to Seed, recommended by Seed Savers Exchange.

I'll def. review it when it arrives! But my personal experience has been limited to the usual: hollyhocks, four o'clocks, squash, pumpkins....

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applestar
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Oh, I know, Cynthia... and Seed to Seed would be top on my list too (haven't got it yet, but I probably will eventually). It's just that when it's all said and done, nothing beats personal experience. You start researching into ANYTHING and you can get 10 different expert instructions, leaving you with :?:

I like hearing and comparing what works for other people. I guess I like collecting anecdotes :D And I REALLY need help -- my kitchen table is piled high with bowls and containers of seeds and herbs to be processed or dried or stored away! We had a brief shower (1/4" or so) over night, then a few hours before the storm was forecast to hit the area, so I've been busy harvesting lemongrass, peppermint, lemon balm, spearmint, sage, rosemary, basil, lavender, dill weed/seeds, amaranth grain, Indian Corn, Four o'clock seeds, nut sedge/foxtail nuts for the gerbils, ... etc. :wink: The family has been banished to the couch to eat in front of the TV :roll:

--
Just noticed somebody started a similar thread over in the Veggie forum so I'll link it here: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=51272&sid=db7d1b098235e9fea6aed65dfff5d3b7
Also a thread for saving marigold seeds:
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=965

Obviously, I should've done a search first! Here's another helpful thread:
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8925

unicorn2564
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I just look at my marrigold today . I decided I would wait till they are good and dry. In the middle is still pale colored so I will wait to pluck.

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Jess
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I store all orthodox (dried seed viable for decades!) in envelopes taped across the top for extra security so the seeds don't sneak out.
Each envelope is marked with the name and the date collected.
These are stored end on in a drawer so it is easy to flick through and see what I have got. I could be anal and store alphabetically but I like the thrill of the search lol!

For these seeds I think the most important thing to remember is to collect them only when completely dry. Any moisture on them and they will not last.
Secondly clean them properly. One little pest stored in your hastily collected handful of seeds will eat them all before you have a chance to plant any!
Knowing without doing is like plowing without sowing."

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bonsaiboy
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Before I throw my seeds into the jar full of salt, I wrap them in some tissue paper. Just to prevent any 'salt poisoning'.
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unicorn2564
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I just noticed the other day that a pack of seed I had recieved in a swap had mold now on it. It was in a tiny ziplock. I wuess I will have to watch how big the ziplocks are and put them in a paper envie from now on.
I also read that you can put powdered milk in with your seed to obsorb moisture. The person who wrote it said they had done it for years with no mold problems.

Jess wrote:I store all orthodox (dried seed viable for decades!) in envelopes taped across the top for extra security so the seeds don't sneak out.
Each envelope is marked with the name and the date collected.
These are stored end on in a drawer so it is easy to flick through and see what I have got. I could be anal and store alphabetically but I like the thrill of the search lol!

For these seeds I think the most important thing to remember is to collect them only when completely dry. Any moisture on them and they will not last.
Secondly clean them properly. One little pest stored in your hastily collected handful of seeds will eat them all before you have a chance to plant any!

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Seed exchange

Just wondering how people go about the seed exchange? :?

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Jess
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Snippy just post what you have and what you want on a new thread in this section.
I have access to an awful lot of seeds and also seeing as you are UK I can send you live plant material something you cannot do across the pond.

I just noticed you have added Canada! :oops: Never knew there was another Grimsby outside of UK.
Soo...forget the live plants then! :lol:
Knowing without doing is like plowing without sowing."

Ilovegardening
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I guess this is an old topic, so I don't know if anyone will be reading this; but I was wondering if anyone had any information about how to preserve store-bought seeds so they will remain viable for a long time. I don't know if the procedure is different for store-bought seeds than for ones collected from home gardens.
If anyone does happen to read this and has any tips; I'd appreciate it so much.
I thank anyone ahead of time who may have some suggestions....although I doubt anyone will be reading this....but it's worth a try! Thanks again!

redback001
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Store bought seed, or seed offered in the retail trade is normally supplied in a hermetically sealed envelope, sometimes foils, and sometimes plastic impregnated plastic.

There are a few reasons for this:
1) To limit the amount of moisture; the normal accepted moisture content of stored seed is in the region of 7% this provides a baseline for seed transactions that are processed on the basis of seed weight, an import aspect in high value F1 hybrid seed or even high volume bulk seed such as container loads of maize seed.
2) 7% moisture seems to provide a good balance between longevity and viability of the seed
3) Higher levels of moisture can result in premature germination, which if stalled once initiated will result in the seedling dying
4) To reduce the likelihood of opportunistic fungal infections (on untreated seed)
5) Reduce the likelihood of infestation by stored insect pests (again on untreated seed)

Seed longevity is determined by a number of factors, mainly storage conditions as well as the genetics of the plant in question. A general rule of thumb is that plants of tropical origin will degenerate at a faster rate than those of plants of arid origin. Under natural circumstances plants producing seed in an arid environment will have to endure far longer periods before idea germination conditions exist than those produced by plants in tropical areas – this is a general rule of thumb, and of course there are exceptions. For example, there was a recent case where a 2,000 year old excavated Date seed (Phoenix dactylifera) was successfully germinated i.e. the seed was still viable after 2,000 due to a combination of genetics and storage conditions.

Commercial seed companies normally store seed in cold rooms at approximately 10 degrees centigrade, the cold temperature lowering (the already slow metabolic) processes within the seed even lower. Storage at temperatures around zero degrees Centigrade are not ideal, water starts expand at 4 degrees and as such the expansion can rupture the cell walls of tissues within the seed, at zero degrees water freezes forming crystals which can again grow and rupture the tissues within the seeds killing them or causing physical/ damage within the seed. Again the above is determined by the moisture content of the seed as the temperature decreases.

It should be noted that certain species such as conifers, have a much (naturally) higher tolerance to extremely cold temperatures which has ensure the existence of these plants in nature; some studies indicate that this is because of a much lower moisture content in the seed and the possibility of some naturally “anti-freezesâ€

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thepassionatecook
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Many books suggest storing seed in the refrigerator within a small, airtight baggie. I store mine in the door next to the butter tray. This seems like the best method since most seeds remain dormant and viable in cool, arid conditions. I have also heard that putting one of those small packing salt packs in the baggie helps to prevent moisture accumulation.
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promethean_spark
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Fridge

I also keep them in the fridge, inside Tupperware with desiccant packets from medicine bottles inside as well. I use the smallest plastic envelopes I can get (from the craft section of stores by the beads), and poke some tiny holes in the envelopes with a pin so that moisture can get out.

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Gary350
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I keep seeds that take up a lot of space in mason jars. I slide a 4x5 note card down inside the jar with information about the seeds in that jar. Large black letters at the top of the card says, the name of the seed like, SILVER QUEEN CORN. Small print for other information.

I have heard seeds need air or they will die, I'm not sure that is true. So I poke some holes in a used canning jar lid so the seeds can get air.

Make 100% sure seeds and jars is dry other wise the seeds will mold.

When I harvest corn I leave 2 or 3 plants standing until fall to make sure I have a few ears of mature corn seeds to plant next spring. I want about 400 corn seeds. Coated seeds have a fungicide on them to keep them from molding when planted in cool weather so you have to be careful not to plant uncoated seeds until the soil temperature is above 65 degrees F.

Small seeds like tomato seeds, pepper seeds, melons, etc. I keep in white mailing envelopes with the name and information about the seeds. I get seeds from the plants that I grow I just have to leave 1 pepper until it turns red to made sure the seeds are mature. I get some of my seeds from the vegatables I buy in the grocery store like melons, red potatoes, sweet potatoes.

Seeds for early spring cool weather crops should all be kept in the same box so you can pull the box off the shelf and all the seeds in that box are all things that can be planted in the early spring. Do the same thing with summer crop seeds and fall crop seeds.

Notes are very useful to me since my memory went down the toilet several years ago. I keep notes like, planted seeds first week of August had a hard time getting to grow only 1 small rain the second week of August I had to water every day still only 30% of the seeds sprouted next year try sprouting seeds inside in pots. I keep notes, when to plant if I am sprouting seeds inside in pots. What worked in the past and what do not.

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Ozark Lady
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I let home collected seed dry, really dry. Large seeds should not bend and small seeds should be shatter dry. If you hit them with a hammer etc.
I then put them in ziplock bags, with the variety, and date.
I also take store bought seeds or traded seeds, and identify them, date, and where I got them on the baggy.
I then place them by groupings in glass jars with good lids, and place them in my freezer compartment. I keep them frozen at all times, except while sorting or planting. I even sow them frozen!

My frig is a frost free, so I have to seal the baggies in glass or metal cans to protect them.

But, I definitely keep them frozen, and I don't regard tropical or other, I freeze all seeds! Works for me!
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Tree seeds

Most northern temperate zone tree seeds do best with the breifest drying time as can be managed before planting. I count this in hours and days.

Tree seed does best if kept in a barely moist meduim in your fridge, while pending exchange.

As soon as you get tree seeds plant them into a pot and begin cold stratification as soon as possible.

This does not mean store them in the fridge or freezer out of medium.

It means in a pot, in your coldframe or even in a pot with dirt bermed into the garden with a plank on top of the pot. The mixed cool temperatures of a winter slumber is what it takes to brush the sleep out of tree seeds eyes.

Even rugged crab apple and rose have a very finite number of months they can be dried and viable.

*Moist medium*: take a handful of peat moss, soak it in hot water. Wring every drop of water out of it that you can squeeze out. Small tree seeds can be stapled into a coffee filter. Store peat and seeds in a zip lock bag, breifly.
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PunkRotten
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Could a dehydrator be used to accelerate the drying process?

tomc
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PunkRotten wrote:Could a dehydrator be used to accelerate the drying process?
Heat and sunlight do nothing good for seed that store successfuly dried. Dry them out on a china or paper plate till seed are a dry as a mummies butt. I put my dried seed in a paper envelope and into a light proof (read sock drawer) box, on an interior wall at home.

When the dresser is too full of seeds to fit cloths into anymore, get a bigger chest of drawers.
Think like a tree
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Tilde
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Well I'm in damp humid florida - what about on a tray with dessicant in the same small space?
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claire2965
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seed saving

can pumpkin seeds be kept and if so how do i dry them for storage

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I store seed in paper bags or envelopes so the moisture can leave if they are still a little damp. I just keep them in a cardboard box in the basement where the temperature is almost a constant 68-70°. We do have low humidity here in Utah so I am sure that helps.
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malissa1578
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Where I live currently the weather is ideal for me to store my seeds outside, just the perfect temperature, but because I live in the desert and our winter months are like other peoples spring time... quite literally, our summers can get extremely harsh so I will bring my seeds in and put them in the fridge during the summer. Growing seasons out here are also different from others. I have tons of pepper seeds (all kinds), marigold seeds, tomato seeds. I simply let them dry out naturally, again due to my weather. And here and there I have one that may not sprout, but the vast majority of all my seeds sprout. Interestingly enough I just had a seedling I found in my thai chili planter... I had to laugh. So if anyone wants a little bag of mixed chili pepper seeds or marigolds. I would be happy to send them. And you can send me a mixed bag of whatever kinds of seeds you have in abundance. I am not picky :)
Malissa

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Gary350
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Re: How to and Tips for Saving/Storing Seeds?

I save seeds in paper bags and envelopes. I save large quantities of seed in small cardboard boxes. I keep all my seeds in a cardboard box in the garage. It gets cold in there no heat, what every the temperature is outside the garage is about the same temperature.

I read some where seeds will die in a jar of zip lock bag but I'm not sure that is true. When I lived in TN I got all my seeds from farmers co-op they were sealed water tight in plastic bags. Seeds were bagged new each year the date was on the bag. I saved unused seeds and I noticed seed wrapped up tight in a plastic bag for 15 months only about 60% would grow. If I saved the seeds another season only 20% would grow.

Since I started saving seeds in paper bags and boxes they all seem to last for years. I have a 8 lb box of Okra seeds 5 years later I have no problem getting them to grow.

yourgardenstop
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Re: How to and Tips for Saving/Storing Seeds?

I am trying this for the first time this year. I was on a lot of sites and they all indicate to dry them out on a paper plate with a paper towel for a couple of days. Then place them in a sealed contain in a cool location. Like the previous people indicate about placing them in the fridge is the best location.

cmpman1974
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Re: How to and Tips for Saving/Storing Seeds?

I store my seeds by putting them in coin envelopes and then putting the envelopes in a tin container with dessicant packets to keep dry. It has worked very well over the years.

Chris

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Re: How to and Tips for Saving/Storing Seeds?

I store my seed packets and left over seed in a shoe box and keep it in the basement. It can be somewhat humid. But I figure as long as I keep the box closed, it should be ok. temp is probably about 70-75 most of the time. I am incline to purchase seed for one season with a little carry over. When I start my hand at learning seed saving, I might adapt a more long term seed saving strategy.

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Re: How to and Tips for Saving/Storing Seeds?

There are two types of seeds: ORTHODOX and RECALCITRANT seeds. Recalcitrant seeds cannot be dried and stored for any length of time, while orthodox seeds can be dried. Orange (and all citrus) seeds were once considered recalcitrant, but we now know they have a 50-50 chance of being orthodox (living while dried) or recalcitrant. So plant more seeds of citrus than you need. Avocado and mango are the two most commoly grown recalcitrants.
When I wait 3 months for my mango seedling to sprout, and then it damps off.
:evil:

colcol
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Re: How to and Tips for Saving/Storing Seeds?

Thank you for suggestion to poke pin hole in the plastic bag. I never would have thought of that!

imafan26
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Re: How to and Tips for Saving/Storing Seeds?

Seeds with a gelatinous coating is best fermented or washed first to eliminate the coating. It may cause germination problems later if it is dried on

To save seeds it is important to make sure the seeds are ripe and ready to be picked. If you collect the seed too early they may not be mature and will never germinate
Some seeds are recalcitrant and cannot be dried and saved, they must be used fresh or shortly after they are harvested as they lose viability very fast.
Most tropical fruits: mango, lychee, mangosteen, rambutan, avocado, sour sop, cacao, persimmon are best planted as soon as you spit out the seeds. You cannot save the seed from chayote, you have to plant the entire fruit. Cacao pods should opened and the seeds planted within 24 hours of picking.
I save a lot of seeds. What I am bad about doing though is labeling the seeds with the date I collected them and sometimes even if I do write on the ziploc bag, sometimes it gets rubbed off and is unintelligible. Some seeds I never label because I can tell what they are by looking at them (but I still don't know how old they are). I have a lot of mystery seed. Sometimes I plant them and see if they will come up. Some of the ones that do germinate are a surprise. I have been culling my seeds since I have now moved out of the veggie drawer and filled one shelf of my frig. I have two refrigerators and a freezer and they are all full. I found some seeds from 2001 and a lot from 2009. Except for beans and dill which I know can last that long, I usual test germinate seeds more than 5 years old. Most don't do anything, but I am surprised by how long others have lasted.
To keep some of my seeds drier, I use powdered milk as a desiccant. It works well and does not cause a problem in the garden. I save the packets that come with the dried foods and keep that in my cat food container and in the bag with the seeds. I usually try to collect seeds from the dried flower heads. Fruit seeds are washed and dried. They tend not to last long, so I try to plant them sooner rather than later.
I keep most of my seeds in ziploc bags and those bags in larger plastic bags. I store my seeds in the frig. I learned the hard way, to only take out the seeds I am planning to use and not the whole cache of seeds. Seeds do better at a constant temperature and not going in and out of the cold. I lose too many seeds if I take out the whole cash and forget them somewhere.
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Gary350
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Re: How to and Tips for Saving/Storing Seeds?

Make sure a mouse does not eat your seeds. This year I have my seeds in a cabinet inside the house. Garlic needs to be kept in the refrigerator 3 months soon as you plant them in the garden warm weather will make them grow roots and tops in about 3 days there is no hesitation about, is it time to grow now.

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MoonShadows
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Re: How to and Tips for Saving/Storing Seeds?

"Make sure a mouse does not eat your seeds."
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fromlawntofood
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Re: How to and Tips for Saving/Storing Seeds?

I quickly learned to ferment and reduce all moisture... a few mold incidents set me right haha.

fromlawntofood
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Re: How to and Tips for Saving/Storing Seeds?

OH and those were fruit and vegetable seeds. Not flower seeds. I've only saved a few flower seeds from different species, but never had that issue with them. :)

imafan26
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Re: How to and Tips for Saving/Storing Seeds?

I have used the desiccant that comes in some cookies and dry goods. It works pretty well. I also sometimes wrap the seeds in paper towels before putting them in ziplocs in the frig. It helps to keep them dry and out of the light.
I like to dry my seeds on the plant. I do have to watch them to make sure they aren't released before I get to them.
Tip 1: Make sure the seeds are mature enough to save. Green seeds will not germinate.

Seeds are best dried naturally. I let mine dry on the plant. Clean them and store them in paper towels or envelopes in a ziploc bag.

Tip 2: Label the bag with something indelible or put a piece of paper in the bag with the date, name of the seed. I have a few mystery seeds because the permanent marker wore off.

Store seeds in a cool, dark, dry place at a constant temperature around 40 degrees. I live in a warm place, so, I keep mine in the refrigerator.

Tip 3: I store seeds in paper towels or envelopes inside a ziploc bag. The paper helps absorb any extra moisture in the bag. If you have a lot of seeds, package only the ones you will use in a single planting in one envelope. Keep all the envelopes individually labeled with the collection date and name of the plant in a single ziploc bag. Take out only the seeds you need and leave the rest in the refrigerator. I have lost seeds when I took out all the seeds and lost the bag. Seeds don't like to go in and out of very different temperatures. Condensation can form inside the bag and cause them to get moldy or the changing temperature could interfere with germination.

Tip4. Every once in a while, at least once a year, clean out the seed box. Keep an inventory sheet in the box of the seeds you already have and how old they are.

Tip5: If seeds are marginal on the dates, take a few out and do a test germination by sprouting about 10 seeds on a moist paper towel to make sure they are still good and get an approximate germination rate. Some seeds don't last as long as the chart says it does. For me corn and zucchini lose germination to quickly and beans and dill seeds I have collected have still germinated even when they were 13 years old.

Tip 6: moisture and heat shorten the lives of seeds. Keep them at a consistent, cool temperature and packaged to stay as dry as possible. When you buy seeds don't buy seeds kept outside in the garden center where it is moist and the temperature is not controlled.

Tip 7: Catalogs come out in December or January. They offer a wider range of seeds and plants than what you will find at the store. However, be mindful to make sure what you order or buy from the store will actually grow in your microclimate. Some varieties will be more suitable for your area than others. Try to get together with others to buy seeds in bulk to cut shipping costs. Seed exchanges are good, but try to exchange locally. Some seeds are restricted and require inspection by the Ag department before they can be sent out of state.
Tip 8: Presoak hard to germinate seeds overnight. Keep only the seeds that sink.
Tip 9: Some seeds need to be soaked or scarified to improve germination. Some seeds need minimum or ideal temperatures to germinate. Otherwise they will not break dormancy.
Tip 10: Some plants don't make seeds, take a long time to mature, or are not reliable from seed. Propagate from cuttings, grafting, or divisions instead. Example avocado, rosemary, artichoke, French Tarragon, and most citrus
Tip 11 Unless you get clones, all seeds will be different. Genetics, environment and culture all play a part in making a fruit or vegetable taste good. Hybrid seeds will not breed true if saved. It takes several generations for a hybrid to stabilize. That is why some hot peppers are not and some varieties of corn vary from batch to batch.
Tip 12: Sometimes the seeds or the planted seeds get mixed up
Orthodox seeds can be saved. Unorthodox seeds like chayote cannot as the seed cannot be dried successfully and remain viable.

Most seeds will keep 3-5 years
Exceptions: I have kept these seeds and they have still been viable much longer or shorter than expected.
Corn = 2-3 years.
Zuchhini 2-3 years with reduced germination
Beans, dill = good for 10+ years.



This is from Iowa extension service
Approximate life expectancy of vegetable seeds stored under favorable conditions.
Vegetable Years Vegetable Years
Asparagus 3 Kohlrabi 3
Bean 3 Leek 2
Beet 4 Lettuce 6
Broccoli 3 Muskmelon 5
Brussels sprouts 4 Mustard 4
Cabbage 4 New Zealand spinach 3
Carrot 3 Okra 2
Celeriac 3 Onion 1
Cauliflower 4 Parsley 1
Celery 3 Parsnip 1
Chard, Swiss 4 Pea 3
Chicory 4 Pepper 2
Chinese cabbage 3 Pumpkin 4
Collards 5 Radish 5
Corn, sweet 2 Rutabaga 4
Cucumber 5 Salsify 1
Eggplant 4 Spinach 3
Endive 5 Squash 4
Fennel 4 Tomato 4
Kale 4 Turnip 4
Watermelon 4
Table modified from D. N. Maynard and G. J. Hochmuth, Knott's Handbook for Vegetable Growers , fourth edition (1997)
https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/ ... elife.html
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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