How To Save Vegetable Seeds Without The Work

Guest post by – Jerry G

There are no guarantees in this world we live in today. We can’t rest assured that the grocery store will always be there or that its shelves will always be stocked full of food. We can’t count on our local home supply store having rows and rows of different seed packets to choose from if we were to ever need to grow our own food. We need to face the reality that things may “go south”, and if they do, we’ll only be able to count on ourselves, and the skills and knowledge we have acquired, in order to survive.

In this, my first guest blog for TheSurvivalistBlog.net, I’d like to share with you a few tips on how to store your own seeds. These are tricks I’ve picked up from my mother and grandmother, other survivalist and organic gardeners I know or have known in my lifetime, or just simply by me learning the hard way and adapting my methods.

Well, to start with, I just need to say it, don’t use genetically modified seeds in your garden; use heirloom seeds. Humans have survived and flourished for thousands of years planting heirloom seeds, and why we decided to start messing with seeds 40 or 50 years ago is beyond me. If we are ever thrown into a world where we need to grow our own food to survive, trust me, you want plants that are grown naturally and contain the most nutrients. Hybrid seeds, and the plants they produce, have been shown to contain much less nutrition than organically grown plants, and often, they require much more maintenance to grow successfully.

In addition, hybrid seeds can’t be saved. The majority of them turn out to be duds, and when new plant life should be growing in your garden, you’ll be faced with a less than 20% growth rate. Yeah, you may survive that first year, but when year 2 comes along, you’ll be starving.

Now, after your harvest, be sure to save as many seeds as you can—it’s much better to have too many than not enough. Bring your seeds inside and lay them on paper bags in a cool, dry place to draw-out the moisture in the seeds. Okay, done. But here’s where people get stuck: What do you DO with all those seeds? How and where should you store them? How long will they keep?

How should you store them? The best way I’ve come up with is to store them in mason jars. I also have some old baby food jars I use, but those are difficult to find anymore. Either way, a water-tight jar with a secure lid will do the trick. You may even want to purchase some silica packets to throw in with the seeds to draw-out any extra moisture.

My best suggestion as the where to store them is a cool, dry place. Some people will store seeds in the refrigerator or freezer, some people have dry basements or cellars to store them in, and some people have sheds/garages they can store their seeds in. Regardless of where, cool and dry is key. If you choose to store them in your refrigerator or freezer, definitely use the silica packets.

And how long can you keep the seeds? How long will they be viable? It really just depends on the type of seed. What I do is date my seeds so that I know how long they’ve been in the jar. Then, each Spring I plant a handful of each kind from the oldest jars to see if they grow. What I’ve found is that most seeds will last 4-5 years but not much longer.

If you are not already saving seeds, I suggest you start. It does not take much time or energy, and these little seeds could save your life in the future, so it’s completely worth it. I would recommend researching your area to find out what kinds of plants grow best where you live and if the seeds of these plants require any special treatment. Knowledge is the best tool you can have when it comes to survival. Thanks for reading!

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.

Comments

  1. Jesse Mathewson says:

    Really good information!

    Thank you

  2. mom of three says:

    Don’t bother with dollar tree, or any other cheap seeds, they just don’t grow I tried and I planted a few seeds they just don’t grow. I’ve had great success with the higher end seeds packets, you may pay more but way better results all my seeds came up. I would also add a greenhouse, as an investment too if you live in a very cold or wet area you can grow all year round and grow lights, I just looked at those I may try a couple of different brands to see what works better. Also many have water catchments set up but for a cheap one is to get a good size garbage can make a hole the size of your drain pipe, and let it roll off your roofs, it makes for quick water to use on plants. I put bleach water in my garbage can about 1/2 cup to a 33 gallon can I also put my hot canning water when I’m finished to also kill any critters too. Looks like I’ll have to go through my canning jars and put some of my olders jars into service again storing seeds.

    • mom of three says:

      Make a hold in the garbage can lids if you choose to keep your bucket closed.

    • Jesse Mathewson says:

      Mom of three, amen I grow and save goid seeds, well said

    • BlueJeanedLady says:

      Hi mom of three. I have to agree with not buying discount / big box store (you mentioned Dollar Tree) offered, no-known-brand-name seeds as I’ve also often had bad – and always inconsistent – results with them as well. We are lucky to have a couple of well established, locally owned landscaping companies nearby with retail store outlets in addition to their landscaping services that almost always have name brand or locally proven to-grow-well seeds available. Yes, these seeds can be a bit more expensive but like you said, they produce with much more reliability and IMHO – and yours, too I assume – that’s what counts. 🙂

      As well, if one waits to buy some seeds from these local stores until right after their current season’s usefulness in their own growing areas &/or if one had a poor crop and unable to save any or many current garden seeds from his/her own garden, the seed prices at these local establishments are often reduced at that time. And yes, it pays to purchase such – even at higher prices – when they can be safely saved for the next spring / summer / autumn crop. Great additional comment, mom of three!

  3. JP in MT says:

    Thanks for the info. You make some points that I needed answered.

  4. patientmomma says:

    Question;;; what about all those “survival seed vault,” canned seeds, etc, etc, on the market. How long are they good for if stored cool or in a refrigerator?

  5. Daddio7 says:

    Seeds do not have to be “heirloom”, just open pollinated and not hybrid. Waiting for plants to seed can be a problem if you have limited garden space and need the ground for the next planting. Another thing leaving growing plants allows bugs and blights to mature and infest other parts of the garden. Like the song says, “Nothing is easy”.

    • BlueJeanedLady says:

      Good points, Daddio7! I think the words, “heirloom”, “open pollinated”, “hybrid”, “organic”, “natural”, etc., can often be misused, misconstrued, misunderstood with some, not so forthright, current day marketing techniques of seed and bedding plant sellers. Good for you for pointing out an example of such. As far as waiting for plants to go to seed, I rarely leave more than one plant to do so if I can use the ground for another, same season planting. (Admittedly not a perfect use of ground space but the practice generally works for me.) I also agree that the swift removal of any infected / infested / diseased plant(s) is a smart idea for all gardeners to employ for the long-term sake of the entire garden. Glad you addressed these concerns. Good call. 🙂

  6. Goatlover says:

    I use small “key” envelopes (2″x3″) purchased from a local office supply store. A box of several hundred for not much money….I label each envelope with type of seed, year saved, season to plant (spring/fall), depth to plant, and distance between plants. I put these envelopes inside of Ziplock bags and then inside large cookie tins and then inside my extra refrigerator! LOL They are great for sharing with folks and may well become something I barter should the need arise…

    • BlueJeanedLady says:

      Excellent idea, Goatlover! I’m a huge “office supply junkie” (meaning I use office supplies for many things far, far away and beyond the office supply and office organizational realms) and can’t believe I didn’t think your idea first! Love it, Love it, Love it!

      Note to all, these mini envelopes really are cheap by the 100’s (I helped a friend in his office supply retail store for several years so I know these things) and if you don’t see the “key holder envelopes” on the shelf most decent office supply businesses (even some of the big box office supply stores) will special order them for you (usually in grosses of 100) without any additional shipping costs.

      Thanks for mentioning this idea, Goatlover. Again, can’t believe I didn’t think of such first. 🙂
      Note to all: be sure to label all envelopes with a) name of seed b) date of harvest & c) approximate # of seeds and do keep the small envelopes in glass or tin (away from the bugs and mice) in a cool, usually dark and always dry place. Yay, Goatlover.

  7. tommy2rs says:

    I also have some old baby food jars I use, but those are difficult to find anymore.

    Try pimento jars, I use those for lots of things from salves to seed storage.

    • BlueJeanedLady says:

      Good idea, tommy2r. Old, glass spice jars – the spices bought in small quantities at the grocery store – are great for seed storage, too. (If they are clear glass I do wrap the jars in brown paper (paper bag brown paper) for storage to help keep out the light.) I don’t buy pimentos that much so I don’t collect many but those little pimento jars seem a great size for seed storage and small salve batches as well. Smart reuse of what you do use as you keep such on hand, tommy2r. Good thinking! 🙂

  8. Moira McKeand says:

    Great article! I like to save seeds from plants that i know grew well in my garden in our soil and climate conditions. Hopefully that means the future plants will also grow well.

  9. I use both kinds of seeds GMO & heritage. Just know which are which. Some are resistant to diseases and some give more yield. But heritage is the best flavor and reproduction. Lol

    Good article.

  10. BlueJeanedLady says:

    Timely and appreciated article, Jerry G. Good job! 🙂

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