How long can I keep the seeds?

supersweetNovember 25, 2008

Hi everyone,

I'm thinking about buying tomato and bean seeds throught internet. Usually it comes in a package of 20-25. I would like to use only 5 for this year. Would the rest last forever if I store them in a dry cupboard?

Thanks in advance

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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

I'm thinking about buying tomato and bean seeds throught internet. Usually it comes in a package of 20-25. I would like to use only 5 for this year. Would the rest last forever if I store them in a dry cupboard?

****

You have several choices as to how to store the tomato seeds.

You can keep them in a cool dry spot with the packs tightly closed.

You can put them in a jar, tightly sealed, and put it in the fridge.

You can dry them down to a moisture level of about 6-8% and freeze them.

I wouldn't say tomato seeds last forever, they can't, but the documented germination of seeds 50 years old was done when the Cheyenne precurser to the USDA was moved from there to Ames IA.

My own record is waking up 22 yo seed but often that means using special little tricks.

Another important factor is knowing the age of the seeds when you buy them, and even though a pack may say packed for 2008 that doesn't tell you how old the seeds are, it just tells you when they were packed.

I keep my seeds in vials and some in open envelopes and they're kept at ambient temperature and I expect a germination of at least 50% and often much more from my own saved seeds.

I know of only one tomato source where no tomato seeds sold are older than two years and that's Sandhill Preservation.

Some of the smaller companies may also be offering some varieties that are fresh, but new stock plantings are rotated so any given place may be selling seeds for different varieties that are of varying ages.

Since you're in Toronto you don't have to deal with blistering heat and humidity so if it were me I think I'd store your seed dry and cool and let it go at that.

I'm not addressing the bean seed issue in detail b/c beans aren't tomatoes, LOL, but bean seed does do best dry and cool and has a longer shelf life than tomato seed does.

Hope that helps.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 9:13PM
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supersweet

Thanks Carolyn for the time to explain all that to me. So, if I buy one pack of seed which has 20 in it, I could probably use it for the next few years if I'm not mistaken! I can choose a few different varieties I like and pay about $16 with shipping and handling, then I just relex and not to worried about what to buy for the next few years. Is that right?

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 10:04PM
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jel7

So, if I buy one pack of seed which has 20 in it, I could probably use it for the next few years if I'm not mistaken!
*******************************************************

In theory, YES.

Carolyn, just stated there is no way to know the age of new seeds.

Your "new" seed could be near the end of their life when you take possession, but, on agerage, I would guess they will have at least five years remaining life as most seed companies do germination test at least annually.

You can use them just one year and save seed and this process could give you another ten + years.

Good luck,

John

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 6:36AM
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jimm_sc

Commercial Seed from a reliable source should easily be viable for more than 5 years. My personal best is 13 years with seeds that were not given any special treatment other than soaking the seeds overnight before planting. Saving seeds is a fun and economical activity, but thats not what you asked about. Yes, you may buy a packet of tomato seeds and plant a few of thm each year for several years. I have less experience with the long term viability of bean seeds.
Good luck with your gardening,
Jim

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 11:30AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree, if stored properly - cool and dry and not in plastic - tomato seed is viable for many years. We have several varieties that we've stored for 8 years now and still used this past season.

And if you order open pollinated varieties you can save seed from them and never have to order again.

Dave

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 12:34PM
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supersweet

Thanks everyone! I'm thinking of buying black tomatoes. I don't know which one is worth trying. I've seen black krim, black prince, black sea man or cherokee purple.....Do you guys have any suggestion for me? By the way, Do they crack easily?
Thanks

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 3:10PM
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jel7

supersweet,

I prefer Brandywine from Johnny's seed (Sudduth/Quisenberry variety) but I plan to try several new virieties next year.

It all depends on the flavor you like and the only way to know is to taste. Everyone has their own opinion.

you can do a search here and uncover many favorite tomato list.

Good luck,

John

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 3:29PM
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PaulF_Ne(z5 Nebraska)

Here's the rub: you will get hooked and your original cache of seeds will be joined by next year's purchase and then the next and so on......pretty soon you will have more varieties of seeds than you have space. Next thing you will be tilling up the front yard or buying a bigger place to try and grow ever variety that sounds good. Do you really know what you in for? Welcome to the group of tomato fanatics.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 8:18PM
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