Storing/starting seeds

ongodsmountainDecember 7, 2011


I'm new to all this...

Built my first raised garden bed this last spring, of alternating 2' x 4' boxes, 18" high, then 12" high, then 18" high, etc.. with a long 2' x 28' x 6" deep bed along the front... Using mel's mix in all of it.. and just started a 4'x4' compost box yesterday.. Planted Hops rhizomes in the 18" deep boxes this summer, and got them established, hoping to get a harvest next year...

I also just received my first order of heirloom seeds from sustainable seed company... I have a couple questions..

I live in the mountains of NorCal at about 4200' we get snow... What is the best way to store these seeds so that they are safe for long term? I don't plan to use them all the first season, and plan to try and harvest/store seeds from the first crops if possible...

Also, to start them in the spring, I was thinking of using small cups of pure vermiculite sitting in a plate of water.. The packages say I should sprinkle some bone meal/blood meal in their starting mix.. Once started, transplanting to 3-4" pots with mel's mix until ready to plant outside in the early summer or late spring...

The plan is to set them on a rubbermade utility cart I have and park it next to a south facing window in the rec room...

Any tips? Anything I should be adding to them to get them going?

this is all new to me, and don't want to mess it all up.. The plan is to become more self reliant as fast as possible...



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Mark kudos for reaching for self reliance.

I can tell you I keep my seeds dry (use desiccant in glass jar) and keep seeds at 35 degrees or less. Humidity is the destroyer so you need to avoid that as much as possible.

I like using open-pollinated seeds so I grow my veggies and fruits and then immediately reuse the seeds from the harvested veggies/fruits or store them for the next season's use.

I have used horse manure with great success if I mix it with peat or top soil. Even a light dusting of cow manure by itself sometimes is enough unless I use a heavy nitrogen user like corn....then I have to use mid season manure... but I never use Miracle grow or any of those commercial fertilizers as they seem to lead to calcium depleted per wit tomatoes with end blossom rot.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 7:02PM
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Thanks for the reply...

What is the difference between Heirloom seeds and open pollinated?

I'm hoping to be able to harvest seeds from my crops to use for following years plantings...


    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 11:38AM
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LaurieK123(7b Oregon)

I am new to this, but what I have learned is;

OP open-pollinated means that if you plant the seed from the plant you will get the same plant as you had before. (as long as it didn't cross with anything)

Heirloom means that it is an OP variety that has been around for a long time. "long time" seems to be subjected, but from what I can gather most Heirlooms have to have been around for 50-100 years or longer to be considered an heirloom.

As far as keeping extra seed; if they are in a paper package, I just fold it down a few times and they keep for me just fine. I put the packages in a box in a closet that keeps cool in the summer.

I don't usually keep anything past two years. There are seed quality tables out there, that describe how long different types of seed stay good.

i.e. corn and onions stay good for 1-2 years and some squash and turnips can stay good for almost 5 years.

hope that helps

    Bookmark   December 26, 2011 at 2:07PM
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I have had tomato seeds last for 10 years by storing them in the original paper packet. They will easily keep for 2 or 3 years no problem. Some things you just shouldn't Parsnip seed. It just doesn't age well like other seeds. The trick is, unless you have some sort of desiccant in with your seeds, then don't store them in jars or plastic pouches (zip locks). If you are storing them in the fridge or freezer, be forerwarned it is one of the most humid places in your house, and you must take extra care in the storage (though, im not saying cold storage is bad, as it is the BEST for longevity).

In my opinion the best way to save seed long term is to plant it. Even if you just plant 1 tomato plant for seed, you will get probably thousands of seeds out of it, and the seed will be fresh for next year (not to mention, now you have extra seed that you can trade off for new varieties!). You also have the added benefit of the genetic manipulation of the plant to be better suited for your particular growing environment! It's a win-win!

Best of luck to you!


    Bookmark   December 27, 2011 at 9:10PM
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