A Short Course in Storing Seeds From Your Garden
and How to Test Their Viability (Germination Rate)
Seed Storage Containers
Pill Bottles are great. You can usually purchase new ones at any pharmacy. Also, if you can find them, Change Envelopes are good. Your best bet for finding these is an Office Supply Store. Staples, Office Max, Etc. Or use a regular letter envelope - used or new - cut in half. Put the seeds inside and seal the envelope with scotch tape if necessary. Be sure to date them and label them as to what they are on the outside!
2 important points: 1. Store them in a dry but never hot place. 2. Store them out of the light.
On top of the fridg in the Kitchen is not recommended! A cool, dry, closet works. A hot garage is out. So is a high shelf close to the ceiling where it is always the hottest part of any room. Room temperatures of 72 degrees or less should be fine for most seeds. The warmer it is the faster they will deteriorate. The cooler the better. I would not recommend freezing unless you Know this is the recommended way to store this specific seed.
No matter what I do, Onions, Chives, etc. usually never germinate worth a darn after a year or so old. Other seeds do much better. Seed Companies strive for at least 85% germination. Some seeds are just hard to germinate.
How to Test for Viability
To test yours out, lay out 10 to 20 seeds in a damp (never wet or dry) paper towel sandwich.p Roll the sandwich up like a jelly roll and place in a large freezer bag. leave the bag unzipped about a half inch to allow a little air to get in. Set on a lowly lit shelf.
Every day pull the jelly roll out and check to see that it is still moist and allow to lay out of the bag for about an hour to allow fresh air to circulate. Then put the roll back into the bag. Check on an old seed package or in a garden book to the usual length of germination. About that time, start unrolling the roll to check the seeds. When they start sprouting, wait till the sprouting finishes. Count the seeds. If you planted 10 and 5 sprouted, you have of course 50 % germination. 8 sprouts = 80%. The more sets of 10's you start at the same time, of course, the more accurate you true germination rate.
To practice this, get some new radish seeds and experiment with this before testing any of you valuable seeds. Radishes is good conditions come up is sometimes less than 48 hours. Always get as much information as you can about the recommended germination time and conditions. Some seeds require Light to sprout. Most don't.
A great book on Seed Saving is : "Seed to Seed" by Suzanne Ashworth. You can easily find a copy new or used on Ebay or from Amazon. Copyright Seed Savers Exchange 2002 Inc. Website - WWW. Seedsavers.Org