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What to do with Leftover Seeds

 
master gardener
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I have leftover seeds a lot of the time because I save some for a backup for the current growing season, just in case the ones I plant don't make it. The first round usually make it fine, so I don't end up needing the leftover seeds.

I also save some for the next year as extra backup, but I generally still end up with a lot of leftover seed, so I sow all of these leftover seeds together in a kind of "free for all" bed, that I don't really do anything else to. The seeds are usually sown really quickly and thickly, by casting out the seed by hand, with lots of other varieties of leftover seeds, and so they usually grow super thick with no "weeds". The really strong plants survive, and it's neat to see some of the tough plants that make it and is probably a really good breeding bed to create super vigorous plants.

What do you do with your leftover seeds? Do you plant them, store them, eat them, make crafts, give them to others, or something else?
 
pollinator
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I too, hold back some for re-sowing if needed, and some for the following year 'just in case'

As an inveterate seed collector I must admit that in past years, I've been a bit overwhelmed and found it hard to get organised :o) I am hoping that my winter cataloguing (at last) of my collection, which I've sorted into month by month sowing times will mean that I get even more seeds into the ground this year.

I really like the idea of a free-for-all plot and am inspired by your post to try that this year.
 
Steve Thorn
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lesley verbrugge wrote:which I've sorted into month by month sowing times will mean that I get even more seeds into the ground this year.



I bet that helps so much! I've been wanting to organize my seeds by month for planting, especially my Fall and Winter seeds, but I keep procrastinating.
 
pollinator
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So far the bins that hold my seed stash just get fuller and fuller. I need to stop doing huge seed grow outs and then just storing them in bins.

I may do some seed grow outs to sell instead. In fact I'm planning to do that this year.

Some species it might be interesting to seed out on my hill to look for volunteers. I'd like to do that someday with tomatoes. I have Austrian field peas I think that volunteer easily and they seem to do ok out in the grass. I do plant pretty thickly as well.

Corn and squash seeds take up an inordinate amount of space. I need to eat, feed, or compost the excess of those. I have more than I can ever plant.
 
gardener
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stash them until the collection is totally out of control and requires a spreadsheet to determine what is kept where?

(this year, when updating said spreadsheet, I realized that things were getting a bit out of control, and I did some seed gifting to people who I knew would appreciate them. That and planting only old stuff [and in some cases, sprouting it to eat as sprouts] helped me get rid of an entire bin. It's hard for me to let go of seeds, as we can't get everything here, but I know they don't keep forever.)
 
pollinator
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I'm curious to know how everyone saves leftovers, because I'm a terrible seed hoarder. I had a friend who used to manage the Burpee seed stations at the local garden centers in the "big box" store, and she would give me the leftovers at the end of the year, when they had to pull them from the shelves due to the expiration dates on the packets. For a long time I had plastic totes full of seed packets, and I had neither the time or space to plant them all out; plus I try to save seeds from my favorite ornamentals & edibles each year to add to the hoard.
Now, I try to go through my collection each winter and sort everything by growing season, then I take everything I know I don't want to sow in specific garden & flower beds and empty them into buckets based on the growing season. If I'm feeling especially productive, I'll sort them by type (flower, herb, veggie, etc), but that doesn't happen often (LOL).
When I need to cover the ground in an area, I get the bucket of seeds for whatever growing season it is, and toss a few handfuls in the area I want a quick cover crop.
This has actually resulted in some pretty flower beds, as well as some productive vegetable patches. Of course, then I usually end up liking the things growing and saving the seeds for them that just get added back to the hoard :D Smaller seeds that do well with surface sowing seem to dominate, though, more than the larger stuff.

Recently I was cleaning out the rabbit barn and found a bucket of 2017 seeds I guess I stuck in there and forgot about. Since they'd been subjected to various temps & humidity levels over the years, I wasn't sure if they were viable, but several of the cool weather stuff (greens, radishes, etc) got tossed in the garden paths and beds in front of the barn, and many of them appear to have sprouted after we got a decent rain, followed by several days in the 60s. Hopefully they'll produce something. 🤞
I like the idea of using mason jars for storing home-grown seeds. If I can get anything worth saving towards a landrace, I think I will just stick everything of the same type in a jar. Then, if I need a backup for any reason, I would have a "bank" for that type.
IMG_20200113_192533.jpg
Seed stash from 2016-17
Seed stash from 2016-17
 
pollinator
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Steve Thorn wrote: ...so I sow all of these leftover seeds together in a kind of "free for all" bed, that I don't really do anything else to. The seeds are usually sown really quickly and thickly, by casting out the seed by hand, with lots of other varieties of leftover seeds, and so they usually grow super thick with no "weeds". The really strong plants survive, and it's neat to see some of the tough plants that make it and is probably a really good breeding bed to create super vigorous plants



Me too! me too!!
 
pollinator
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I like the free for all bed, too.

Lately I've been using them on hugels in progress. I have to drag logs out of the woods, dig dirt with a shovel, move dirt with a wheelbarrow, so my hugel beds take a while to construct. I use my extra seeds as a cover crop on beds that aren't ready for planting, but shouldn't be left bare.

I also like planting extra seeds in places I don't think anything could possibly survive, but I'd really like it to. Just in case. The mice seem to be better at finding these places than I am, though. I've got peas growing in the most unexpected spots!
 
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Yes the 'free-for-all-bed' is the most fun method! -aka- Fukuoka style!!

As well as the most output potential for least input. This past season I dedicated a small plot in the garden and did the just the seeds in and raked over some dirt...Although I did try to get a mix of roots crops, herbs, leafy, early/late season, perenial, etc into the plot.

It worked out really well and looked quite nice for a no attention/care plot!
 
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Sometimes, I put leftover seeds in the freezer.  I think, someday I might need these.

My wildflower seeds get sown in the fall so I put the leftovers in my rocky meadow that I dream of a pretty view of wildflowers.  Every year I do see a few come up. Mother nature is better at it than I am though she works better some years than others.
 
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I store in tin cans in cool dry place they last for years
 
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I find teachers are happy to get them in late March, for class projects. The nearest town has a community garden and sometimes I’ll drop them off there on a Saturday. The other thing I’ve found be popular is when the library has free book week and fills tables with books they’re giving away, I can bring in a box with seed packets and add it to the treasures there. Finally, the local senior center has garden area for the residents and is always happy to accept seeds. So, I generally have more uses than leftovers!
 
William Schlegel
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Seed Libraries.
 
master pollinator
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I use the free for all method, and I also use extra seeds for cover crop.  With my free for all bed, the plants that do the best in spite of complete neglect are left alone to make more seeds for the next year :)  With the areas I use my extra seeds for cover crop, I usually wait til they are pretty far up and mow them, leaving the mowed material on the bed.  As more seeds spout when the competition is gone, I just keep chopping them and leaving them in place.  Those areas are planted the next year, sometimes with my regular gardens, sometimes with extra seeds as cover crop again.  I have quite a lot of space and I don't like to leave anything bear, so the extra seeds also get planted where I harvested things, even though I know they don't have time to produce.  It's still a living root in the ground.

I love to plant beans because I find the varieties with all the different sizes, shapes, and colors to be beautiful, So I always have lots and lots of bean for seed.  I love to plant squash, dozens of plants, so you can imagine how many squash seeds I have.  Ditto peppers.  I can't possibly eat all of those things that I grow, or even give them all away, so of those three, I have many hundred of extra seeds.  I don't even attempt to keep my pepper seeds separated most times, so they are always a surprise.
 
Olga Booker
pollinator
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Another way with surplus seeds.

Where I live in France, seed exchange is very popular, at least in my region.  Once a month, there is a meeting advertised locally, where people can bring seeds, cuttings, plants to give or exchange.  On the same day, there is also an exchange of skills to repair and mend broken items: anything from tools to old radios, computers or leather goods etc...  A couple of years ago, someone had heard that we were doing Permaculture and asked if a handful of people could come and visit our place.  Lo and behold! Twenty five people turned up and we spend the next 3 hours looking around and discussing Permaculture.  I happily parted with many seeds that day!  And you never know, maybe I planted a few seeds in the heart of those keen gardeners!!
 
pollinator
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We use the free for all method too: the past four years since we had pigs n chooks we picked an area of "badland", covered it with compost, threw down the leftover seed and raked it in - then fenced it off (or sometimes it was in a fenced off area) - then as and when we see produce, flowers, etc. we let the ducks and chickens go in periodically to graze, then later in the year when there is more produce we turn pigs into the area.... we also get to pick and eat anything tasty that might appear too!!!

We have had great success particularly with old kale, cabbage, sunflowers, chicory, squash, marrow, cucumbers.  The birds and pigs are very discerning about what is good for them or not, and all the bugs and insects attracted (and un-deterred) also make great foraged protein for the chickens and ducks.

WELL DONE YOU!!
 
pollinator
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Make them into seed balls and throw them where ever you go.
 
pollinator
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I have soaked and sprouted them both for eating and for feeding to my chickens.  Brassicas are great, and the chickens like the pumpkin seeds--these don't always sprout in winter, but they still eat the soaked seed.  Just make sure what's sprouting is also edible--no tomato sprouts!
 
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The seeds I think  aren’t viable, I scatter into the garden beds or add them to the compost. The others, I plant, all into one place. Sometimes I get food. Last year I got a citron, for example...
 
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I’ll take all the seeds and seed bomb em all over this place. Whoop whoop.
 
pollinator
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How long will seeds keep?  For clarity, lets say frozen, refrigerated, and room temperature.
 
William Schlegel
pollinator
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John F Dean wrote:How long will seeds keep?  For clarity, lets say frozen, refrigerated, and room temperature.



Some rough estimates:

Frozen: if properly dried down and sealed and not opened frequently or incorrectly (moisture condenses if not brought to room temp before opening) 20 years. See Carol Deppe's book on vegetable breeding for instructions.

Refrigerated: if dry and properly sealed a few years.

Cool dry place: 1 to 20 years but longer than room temp

Room temp: varies by species between 1 to 20 years depending on your climate.

Drier climates longer, more humid climates shorter.

Some species will prove to be exceptions
 
John F Dean
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Hi William

Thanks.  Up to now I have always bagged the and tossed them in the freezer for the winter.  Last Sept I got pretty sick and my wife and I forgot. I have been doing this a while, and I was certain those of a year or two old would be ok.  After that I was less sure.
 
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