Unless you have a ginormous garden or only plant one or two types of vegetables, chances are you have a lot of half-full packages of seeds left at the end of each gardening season. I sure do.
Seeds aren’t expensive, but since I like to plant a growing variety of heirloom/organic plants each year, saving seeds prevents waste. It also helps me plant on time since I already have the seeds on hand and avoids the sad situation of having all the variety of green beans I wanted to plant gone by the time I’m ready to shop.
How to save seeds
Properly stored, seeds can be saved for four or more years. Seeds store best in a cool dry place. This is how I save my seeds.
- Group the seeds according to season (cool weather and hot weather)
- Place the seeds inside a ziploc bag, squeeze all the air out, and then zip it up.
- Store the bag inside a canning jar and keep it in the lower part of the fridge.
It might be a bit extreme, but my seeds have lasted for years. I love starting the gardening season with a good collection of heirloom/non-GMO seeds and adding to them each year.
So how can you tell if your saved seeds are still good? Well, you could just plant them and see what happens. That’s what I normally do.
Or, you can set up a seed-testing station. For each type of seed, set a piece of paper towel on a plate. Arrange ten seeds on the paper towel. Place another paper towel on top. Moisten the seeds, keep them moist, and see how many sprout.
Even fresh seeds rarely have a 100% germination (or sprouting) rate. Normally, at least for me, it’s more in the 75-90% range, depending on the type. Ideally, I’d keep the seeds until they drop down to the 60-75% range, and then toss them… but I’m rarely that scientific about it.
Save your extra seeds
Saving leftover seeds only takes a few minutes. Storing them properly keeps them fresh for multiple seasons of gardening and saves time, hassle, and money in the long run.