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Saving/storing seeds

 
pollinator
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Is it necessary to separate seeds by year?  So if I save seeds from my pepper plants for instance, every year, should I separate them by year so I know how old each batch is?

Bonnie
 
pollinator
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Hi Bonnie,

I'm just a shelter and passive solar type and many others will be able to give you better info.  I've been told there is a shelf life to seeds and the length of that shelf life is dependent on the species. It appears as if all the seeds of a species isn't going to fail after a specific date, rather as each year passes past that self life, a larger percentage will not sprout and grow.

This is the limit of my plant seed knowledge and it doesn't include pepper plants ( there are many species of pepper plants so you might  want to post a pic so people with more knowledge than mine can tell you).

Also, I've been told you should save about 200 seeds from as many different plants as possible from the same species each year to keep the genetic diversity at a healthy level.

You master gardeners out there, have I been misinformed???
 
pollinator
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Bonnie Kuhlman wrote:Is it necessary to separate seeds by year?  So if I save seeds from my pepper plants for instance, every year, should I separate them by year so I know how old each batch is?

Bonnie



Good morning Bonnie, I will tell you how I save my seeds. I have a multitude of small glass sample jars that I put a plain label on, and I record the date and specimen it was saved from. I also put a silica packet inside the jar, then after the seeds are fully dry, I place it in the freezer for long term storage. When you go to use the seeds, it's helpful to keep the jars inside the freezer while you get what you need out of them and place into temporary containers. I do not ever add any new seeds to these jars. They will last a really long time this way.

So, yes, I do think it's important to record the year you saved each particular seed, and keep them separate.
 
pollinator
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Good idea on the silica packet...dry uncooked rice could be another option I guess
 
Hamilton Betchman
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Ty Greene wrote:Good idea on the silica packet...dry uncooked rice could be another option I guess



I have been saving these silica packets for years. All you have to do to re-activate them is pop them in the oven. They can be used over and over and over and over again.

I like the idea of uncooked rice too!
 
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I make little packets out of folded paper, and label them by year. In fact, I sometimes make a few packets of each kind of seed in case I end up wanting to give some away, I won't have to fold and write a new packet. In case one type of crop fails to grow or fails to set seed in one particular year and I've planted out all of my current seeds of it, I'm happy if there's a backup of a previous year's seed still sitting in the collection. I keep all the packets, both homemade and commercial, in a big plastic box in the coolest-dryest place I can find in the house, and they mostly seem to still germinate after several years, even those that are supposedly short lived, like parsley. I also have a few jars.

I use those silica desiccant packets too, saved from packaging, and tuck them into the plastic box.

I order the seeds alphabetically though there are several things that I keep changing my mind on which letter they are supposed to come under.
 
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Here is a thread about making the seed packets out of folded paper like Rebecca mentioned.



https://permies.com/t/46632/Samurai-Seed-Saver-Improvised-Seed
 
pollinator
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Older seeds tend to have lower germination rates, but they're usually still worth planting for many years, when stored in a cool, dry place. I do suggest labeling them by year, so that if one batch turns out to have some cross-contamination, you can go back to the previous year's seeds.

Be aware that peppers like to cross with each other, so if you grow more than one type you'll need to watch out for that.

Also, I've been told you should save about 200 seeds from as many different plants as possible from the same species each year to keep the genetic diversity at a healthy level.

You master gardeners out there, have I been misinformed???



It depends on the species. Peppers and other nightshades aren't all that susceptible to inbreeding depression, so saving from just a few plants is usually fine. Something like corn it would be important to save from as many plants as possible, because that is highly vulnerable to inbreeding depression.
 
steward
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I tend to store mine by year as well.  Right now I have three or four years of rattlesnake green beans.  

What I think I should do is to add one jar for "planting stock".  Each fall I put some of the collected seed in its own dated jar and the rest goes in the planting jar.  If there isn't enough, I can steal (equally?) from the previous year's collections.  Then if the crop is a total failure, I know the most recent year's seed is suspect and I can cull it and still have older seed for replanting or the following year.

I've thought about keeping all the year's seeds in the same container but then I lose out on the deliberate or accidental seed breeding I'm doing in my garden.  Each time I save dry beans, I'm selecting for those that shell easier when I stomp on them in a chicken food sack.  So each year they should shell better.  Unless I mix in seed from 2015...
 
Bonnie Kuhlman
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Hamilton Betchman wrote:

Good morning Bonnie, I will tell you how I save my seeds. I have a multitude of small glass sample jars that I put a plain label on, and I record the date and specimen it was saved from. I also put a silica packet inside the jar, then after the seeds are fully dry, I place it in the freezer for long term storage. When you go to use the seeds, it's helpful to keep the jars inside the freezer while you get what you need out of them and place into temporary containers. I do not ever add any new seeds to these jars. They will last a really long time this way.

So, yes, I do think it's important to record the year you saved each particular seed, and keep them separate.



I've seen elsewhere that the silica packets are not healthy and can leach into seeds.  It may be negligible, not sure, but would love more info on it if anyone has come across this.  

Also, while some seeds do need a period of freezing, won't freezing damage some?  

Bonnie
 
steward
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I have conflicting needs regarding seed saving...

As a plant breeder, I want to be planting the newest seeds, because they are the best of many generations of the best.

As a conservationist, I want to be planting seeds from many years, in order to hold onto genetic diversity which might be valuable in the future. And because I would hate one odd growing season to really skew the population in a certain direction that might not be the best for average conditions in average years.

I keep jars of seeds each labeled for the year they were harvested. It quickly gets overwhelming, and too many seeds are hanging around. Therefore, recently I have been keeping a jar of seeds for planting, that contains about 70% of new seed, and 30% of seed from previous years. (I partially empty the jar of seed before adding fresh, then feed the excess seeds to the chickens.) For my own purposes, as long as something germinates, that's good enough.

For populations that are quickly evolving, I tend to keep more as individual years. For populations that are approximately the same year after year, I combine years. For example, domestic tomatoes are highly inbreeding, so Jagodka tomato from this year is the same as Jagodka from 5 years ago. I might as well combine the seed lots.

Freezing temperate adapted seeds is fine. (That's every variety of seed that I grow.) I typically run seeds through the freezer to kill predators, leaving them in for only a few days, because space is limited compared to the amount of seeds I keep on hand. Tropical seeds may be killed by freezing. Seeds that are not fully dry may be damaged by freezing.


 
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Be careful when freezing seeds (good advice from Bonnie and Joseph).  Verify from seed saver sites which seeds can be frozen and which cannot.  Also, viability decreases over time.  If you save your seed by year, you can sprout a few seeds each year from each growing season.  Within a few years you will know how long you can keep your seeds.  As for containers, those dozens of pill bottles you've been throwing away are particularly good for saving seed, and the amber color helps reduce the destructive effects of light.
 
pollinator
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The last few years I've done the same as Joseph -one batch with mostly last year's seeds and a bit of all the other years I have. I use my excess seedsin cover crop mixes that I chuck all over the place.

I regret not saving seeds long term from an old batch of tomatoes I had. You can do this by getting them very very dry and then freezing them. I used to save tomato seeds only from my earliest fruits to promote shorter season plants. The flowers on the earliest fruits are often much more open than on later ones, and more likely to be cross pollinated. I wasn't really paying attention to much else when saving seed at that point and I ended up losing some of the characteristics I really liked in that tomato. So if you mess something up like that, it can be nice to have seeds from a year before you meddled :)
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I used to save seeds from specific plants, into individual seed packets, as an aide in doing fruit-to-row plant breeding, also known as sibling-group selection. It also allowed quick selection for the families that were most suited for my farm. With corn, I might have ended up with 100 packets of seed per year, which were planted as 100 rows of corn the next year.  It was a lot of work!

These days, I tend more towards mass-selection. Plant bulk seed. Save seed from whatever I like. Bulk that seed before replanting a sample. That is a great method for maintaining landraces, where the seed is becoming locally-adapted. The best producing plants tend to produce the most seeds. Beans work really well with this method of seed saving/storing.

teparies-2018a_640.jpg
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Tepary beans
 
Bonnie Kuhlman
pollinator
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George Waterhouse wrote:Be careful when freezing seeds (good advice from Bonnie and Joseph).  Verify from seed saver sites which seeds can be frozen and which cannot.  Also, viability decreases over time.  If you save your seed by year, you can sprout a few seeds each year from each growing season.  Within a few years you will know how long you can keep your seeds.  As for containers, those dozens of pill bottles you've been throwing away are particularly good for saving seed, and the amber color helps reduce the destructive effects of light.



Great idea, George, to sprout a few seeds each year from each growing season.  I don't take any medications, but a family member saves me lots of those little medicine bottles.  They are very convenient for lots of seeds.
 
gardener
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Joseph, reading through the Permies blogs, I'm picking up pearls of wisdom left and right about land race seed saving, mostly from you, also from others on the forum.  Which is nice enough in itself maybe.
I thought of buying seeds of yours but we have completely opposing climate/soil type. So i better do it myself.
I mention you to people, when i'm trying to explain them what the heck i'm doing or trying to do, but they mostly look at me like i've got two heads.

Did you write a book yourself or is there a book that you could recommend about land race breeding? Basics to medium level, not super super nerdy..

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