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Seed Saving Procedures?  RSS feed

 
Talasi Caslin
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Location: Western WA, Zone 8b
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Hello,
Today I was out harvesting seed from my garden. This is my first attempt at seed saving, and I read a source that said that I should give the seeds a 'bath' with a mix of bleach or apple cider vinegar with water. Is this necessary? Additionally, should I store seed in the fridge or just the pantry?
Thanks! All help is appreciated
 
Tas Zinck
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I've never heard of this 'bath' method but would be interested to hear more about it.
I would definitely store them in the pantry and not the fridge. The fridge can cause moisture to condense even into sealed containers. Another trick is to save the silica packages that absorb moisture that are often included with shoes and other products if you buy such things, and throw them into your seed vault to negate any moisture from contacting your seeds.
 
Talasi Caslin
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Location: Western WA, Zone 8b
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Thanks, Tas! I'll try the silica packets because I'm sure I have one somewhere. The seed-bathing source was kinda old and said to put it in w/ a nylon pouch of powdered milk, which was weird. I'd rather use silica, personally!
 
Su Ba
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I normally don't clean my seeds with any solutions, but I take care not to save seed that has insects or mold. I dry them well in an airy location for at least a week, then finish the drying in a sealed jar that has either powdered milk or silica gel in permeable pouch (I use the toe portion of an old women's stocking). A week in the drying jar is sufficient for most seeds, though larger seeds like beans may need longer. The seed should be dry enough to feel quite hard.

Once dry, I store them in sealed Mylar pouches in the refrigerator. I used to use glass jars with a rubber gasket, but the pouches take up a lot less space. The idea is to prevent the seeds from absorbing moisture plus keeping them at a fairly constant cool temperature.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Any seeds that come in a "jelly" like substance (tomatoes, melons, squash) are best fermented first so the seeds come out clean. Then I lay these on paper towels on a bakers or drying rack until they are dry (about 2 days in our house), from there they are checked for dryness then put either in jars with some desicant (silica gel or laboratory desicant (bigger hunks of silica gel with a color change). sealed, labeled and put on a shelf in the pantry (cool dark place).

Beans and others that come out clean are dried till hard then they are put in jars with desicant, sealed, labeled and put on the pantry shelf.

Hopefully Kola Joseph will chime in with his procedures, he is great at seed saving and creating land race seed, which is what I am currently working towards.

Redhawk
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I don't know if I have much to add to such excellent responses...

I don't treat my seeds with any sorts of chemicals or washes other than plain old water.

Cold, dark, and dry are the preferred storage method for common temperate vegetable seeds. The colder, darker, and drier the better for long term viability.

If I had enough freezer space, I would store all of my seeds in the freezer. As it is, I just cycle them through the freezer for about a week, after they are very dry. Going through the freezer kills seed eating bugs. There are a lot of species of seed eating bugs! I would use desiccants before freezing if they were available to me. It's very dry here. If well dried, many species store for a long time on a shelf in the pantry: corn, squash, beans, brassicas, melons, beets, tomatoes, etc. Seeds for carrots, parsnips, and onions have shorter lifespans.

I typically store large quantities of seeds in glass jars, and smaller quantities in plastic bags inside glass jars.

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Seed storage
 
Su Ba
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Cold, dark, dry. You hit the nail on the head, Joseph. Except for certain tropical seeds, I have found cold, dark, and dry to be the best method. I've never put any of my seeds into the freezer, mainly because I have a difficult time getting things truly dry where I am. My air has naturally extremely high humidity, so seeds begin to absorb water the moment they are out of a drying desiccant jar. Besides, my freezer space is very limited, while on the other hand I have adequate refrigerator room.

I have a chest style frig. The bottom maintains a steady temp just above freezing. So that's where I store seeds. And since I normally only open the frig morning and evening, the seeds aren't subject to fluctuating temperatures.

I'm using Mylar bags at the moment because of two reasons. First, the glass jars take up too much space in the frig. Second, I was seeing moisture reabsorption when I was using simple plastic baggies. Some day I hope to have a frig dedicated just to seed storage. When that happens, I'll probably go back to using glass mason jars. There's just something nice about being able to see my seeds.
 
Maureen Atsali
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Seed saving procedures will vary a bit depending on what you are saving.  most seeds just need to be cleaned with regular water and thoroughly dried.   Tomatoes for example, as someone else mentioned, usually go through a fermenting process to break down the protective gel around the seed.  (That gel keeps the seed from germinating inside the moist fruit.). I am trying to figure out the best process for saving black nightshade seeds.  Seed to Seed just said to wash them clean and dry them... but as they are somewhat related to tomatoes, and they appear to have that gel surrounding the seeds... what to do?  I gave them a couple days soak, but did not let them sit long enough to get the mold film on top... neither one method nor the other... probably just ruined that batch.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Maureen, Almost all of the nightshade family respond well to the fermenting method used for tomato seeds. Just dump the seed containing gel in a jar add water to cover and let it sit till the seeds are on the bottom of the jar.
I usually cap my jars just out of habit more than any purpose.

Redhawk
 
Maureen Atsali
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Redhawk, that's pretty much what I did.  Time will tell if the seeds are viable or not.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Maureen Atsali wrote:I gave them a couple days soak, but did not let them sit long enough to get the mold film on top... neither one method nor the other... probably just ruined that batch.


Life lives... In my experience, seeds don't care much about methods. They tend to grow in spite of anything that I do to try to "help". Life lives.

 
Maureen Atsali
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Joseph - I agree.  Somebody I heard recently (probably on YouTube )- maybe Mark Shephard - said if you are working really hard to keep something alive, you are growing the wrong thing.

Black nightshade has actually naturalized and is found growing wild here.  Its one of my favorite edible "weeds".  Normally we just squash the seeds and toss them out with the compost.  When I spread the compost, volunteers appear.

Now I want to try some purposeful cultivation.  I can buy seed on the market, but why buy seeds if I can use my own adapted variety?  I have tossed a bunch into my nursery bed, so we'll see.  Stuff is sprouting but I am not actually sure what's up yet... as I also tossed in tomatoes, eggplants, onions....  Haha, obviously I am not well organized.
 
r ranson
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Everything but tomatoes, I just dry the seeds.  Make sure they are really dry, then put them in glass jars in a cool place, or on the table where everyone can see how pretty these glass jars full of seeds are.  If I'm worried about bugs like pea weevils, then I freeze the jars for a week, thaw them for a week, freeze them again until a week before planting time. 

For tomatoes, I squeeze out the seeds and the pulp from the skin, add some water and ferment until the first bit of white mold appears on top (2 to 4 days).  Remove the mold and the floaty bits, wash the seeds in a fine mesh strainer, then dry.  The only time I've experienced some problems with seeds is when I planted some unfermented tomato seeds from the local seed exchange.  It's taken a bit of effort to remove the illness from the garden because some of the volunteer tomatoes still have it.  But by fermenting, none of my planted tomatoes have it. 

To add the extra work of a bleach bath or other chemical treatments, I think there needs to be a really good reason for it.  To me, seeds are a living thing.  They evolve to have a friendly relationship with the bacteria that naturally inhabit it.  Removing that bacteria without good reason might weaken the plants.  It certainly adds more work for the human.

I worry that all concern about saving seeds the proper way is too much.  People have been saving seeds simply without worrying about purity or bleach baths for over 6 thousand years.  Why in the last 10 years, has this suddenly become so important? 

For a wonderful introduction to seed saving check out Saving Seeds  As If Our Lives Depended on It by Dan Jason.
 
Gordon Haverland
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Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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I don't have a dehydrator {\it per se}.

What I have is a sauna.  I think I can set the temperature as low as 95F (which is measured about 4 feet off the floor, probably too close to the heater).  I collected my pea and pole bean pods (we are expecting frost this week).  I should dry them in the pod, or shell them and then dry them?  There is no air flow in the sauna, but it is very dry.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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It is easier to dry them in the pod then remove them and let them dry some more prior to putting them away for the winter.
 
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