Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
posted 4 years ago
I'd like to share a photo, and explain the reasoning behind my seed storage methods. Tonight I started germination testing on about 40 varieties of seed that I saved from my garden this fall. These are all varieties that I have developed specifically for my farm. I grow about 70 of my own annual varieties for around 45 species, but I only do germination testing on varieties that I share with others.
Here's what the kitchen table looked like when I was done getting the tests ready.
Notice that every batch of seed is in a glass jar. I used to have problems with mice and/or insects eating my seeds. That hasn't been a problem since I started storing seeds in glass. The animals would often get into seeds stored in paper or plastic. In order to kill insects that are on the seed during or after harvest, I put the bottles of seed in the freezer as soon as possible after the seed is harvested, dried, and cleaned. If freezer space is limited, each jar only spends a couple days in the freezer. I haven't noticed any harm to the seeds. I hear that some tropical seeds are damaged by drying/freezing, but I don't grow those kinds of plants.
I have a large population of pea weevils in my garden. The eggs/larva get harvested with the peas, and they eat the seed from the inside out. So it is important to me to get the peas dried and into the freezer as soon as possible. Often times I will do an initial freeze even if the seed hasn't been threshed or winnowed. The seed has to be dry enough that it isn't damaged by freezing. A good way to test if seed is sufficiently dry is to hit it with a hammer. If it mushes then it's not dry enough. If it shatters then it is sufficiently dry.
I also like glass jars because they are hermetically sealed. No moisture is entering into them during storage to damage the seed.
One disadvantage of storing seed in glass is that sometimes I can be ham-fisted and drop a jar in just the right way to break it. That works out to about one jar per year. On average that's much less than what I previously lost to animals.
I suppose that my strategy for seed storage can be summarized as:
Dry seeds well.
Freeze to kill insects.
Store seeds in glass.
Keep in a coolish place out of direct sunlight.
I than store my seeds in mason jars as you do however, I tape a humidity strip that changes color at 5% and 10% relative humidity to the inside of the jar facing out.
I add seed to jar and add silica beads with indicator to a Drawstring Muslin Bag placed into with the seeds to keep the humidity within the proper range.
Legumes should be above 5% and less than 10%
Other seeds that can be dry should be below 5%
I store seeds in a cool place. Many dried seeds can be frozen.
Lower moisture and temperature will allow the seeds to remain viable longer.
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