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I’ve been gardening in one form or another my whole life. My parents would send me out to water the garden after school when I was little, and as I grew, so did my gardening responsibilities. I find working around plants and fresh soil to be deeply relaxing—originally a reprieve from homework, and now a kind of escape from the busyness of daily life. I guess that’s why this plant addiction followed me into adulthood: container gardens in apartments and sprouting greens on my kitchen counter, then raised beds in my backyard, and now farming our homestead—really too big to be called a garden at all.
You hear many people talk about gardening, but you rarely hear about one of the side effects of gardening addiction: saving and storing seeds. I seldom use all the seeds from a packet, and all of those leftovers can pile up. Add in the seeds I’ve saved from produce I’ve grown (or even store-bought organic produce), and my seed stash rapidly gets out of hand.
In this post, I’ll share a few of my favorite seed-storing tips and ideas, plus some products that will make your seed fetish more manageable.
What’s the best way to store seeds?
Proper seed storage is essential to ensure the best chance of germination in the following year. Most seeds should be stored in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight. I’ve stored garden seeds in the back of the pantry, a box in the linen closet, and now in a designated seed-saving area of my basement.
Seeds should not be stored where temperatures fluctuate rapidly or where they can get overly hot or freeze. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule (like if you’re intentionally freezing seeds that need to be stratified), but this is the general guideline for the majority of common vegetables and herbs.
If you are saving fresh seed—harvested from your garden or other produce—let the seeds dry thoroughly to prevent mold before packing them away. I once saved a large amount of yellow dock seeds from my medicinal herb garden bed only to discover months later that a drop of moisture somehow entered the packaging, and I was left with a plastic bag of fuzzy black mold.
What is the best container for storing seeds?
Whether saving a tiny tomato seed or hard-shelled pumpkin seeds, you’ll get the best results using an airtight container. Your goal is to protect the seed coat (the hard outer shell nature provides around the endosperm) from pests, light, and moisture. While store-bought seeds are usually packaged in paper envelopes, long-term seed storage requires more protection to preserve germination rates and avoid disappointment during planting season.
The simplest airtight long-term storage container is the ever-reliable glass Mason jar. With sizes ranging from 2-ounce spice jars to much larger gallons, Mason jars are easy to find and affordable. Try thrifting them from your local secondhand store or looking on sites such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
To keep your seed collection organized more compactly, try storing seed packets in photo storage cases. These stackable cases look tidy and provide a way to group similar varieties together.
A similar idea to the photo storage case but with the added benefit of preventing light contamination, a light-blocking seed organizer with little round storage containers and seed-saving envelopes is best for small seeds. Think flower seeds, tomatoes, and herbs.
I like to keep seed packets that I plan to use within a few months organized in a three-ring binder with clear plastic seed storage sheets. The sheets have divisions the perfect size for standard seed envelopes, and the binder tucks away nicely on my bookshelf right beside my gardening books. Because these seeds will be planted quickly, and my bookcase is in a dry area, I don’t need to worry as much about moisture.
If you want to store a small quantity of seeds within easy reach, a vintage-inspired metal seed storage box might be just what you’re looking for. It reminds me of an old-fashioned recipe box my grandmother used to keep on the kitchen counter—I think it’s perfect for storing sprouting seeds since I rotate through those all year long.
How can I organize my seed storage containers?
Now that you have an idea of the type of containers you’d like to use to store seeds, you need to decide what to do with your neatly labeled boxes and jars. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Try converting an old dresser or nightstand into a seed storage chest.
Designate a corner of a pantry for seed storage jars.
Hang a cute shelving unit on a wall in a spare room or your office—and fill the shelves with jars boasting color-coordinated labels.
Repurpose old-fashioned bread boxes and fill with frequently used sprouting seeds.
Fill vintage suitcases with seed storage containers and stack them in a corner for visual appeal.
Whether you store a few flower seeds gathered on long walks or bulk-buy garden seeds for a large vegetable bed, keeping seeds viable and organized is key to simplifying your gardening hobby. Find a storage method that fits your personality and homestead, and have fun filling your world with colorful flowers and home-grown food!
BONUS: Did you know gardening reduces stress? Check out this post to find out How Gardening Relieves Stress and Helps You Unwind!
You can also check out more gardening posts from our friends at Homesteading Tips 101!