In this video, I show you how to keep your seeds safe, methods for organizing, and how many seeds you need to save. I also talk about the seed companies I regularly use for growing my own groceries and backyard food production.
(This is an updated version of post that was originally published on January 25, 2013.)
Marjory Wildcraft is the founder of The Grow Network, which is a community of people focused on modern self-sufficient living. She has been featured by National Geographic as an expert in off-grid living, she hosted the Mother Earth News Online Homesteading Summit, and she is listed in Who’s Who in America for having inspired hundreds of thousands of backyard gardens. Marjory was the focus of an article that won Reuter’s Food Sustainability Media Award, and she recently authored The Grow System: The Essential Guide to Modern Self-Sufficient Living—From Growing Food to Making Medicine.
I don’t have air conditioning and I live in the south. How to keep seeds cool? In fridge/freezer?
Yes while we have refrigeration, putting them in the fridge or freezer is a good idea. I have to admit I don’t put mine int he freezer much – usually the fridge.
The strategy I have for backup food storage is that I keep a small room cool by putting in thick insulation and a tiny ac unit that runs all summer. It stays at about 64 degrees F, which I wish were lower, but that is as low as the little ac goes. It is very efficient. Anyway, besides the beans, I store in there the seed collection.
If the grid goes down, I’ll need to bury it all to stay cool. Not looking forward to that…
I have planted seeds that were just laying in their old packet with the open end folded over and closed with a mini binder clip or stapled. They were laying in my basement for 15 years and I was shocked at how well they germinated and grew nice pumpkins, tomatoes, bush beans, pickling cukes and such. I am up here in Michigan so it stays pretty cool in the basement.
Now I am heading into serious seed saving so thank you for the ammo box idea. I will need corn, cow peas and a mix of squash and pumpkins to cover just over an acre in the 3 sister crop I am hoping for.
15 years? Wow. The ones you mentioned are some of the longer lasting ones though.
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Thank you for the information!
My problem is starting too many plants and then not being able to care for them all. I feel like I can’t “thin” the herd because of the “what if” scenario…so I try to get them all going and generally the result is a big fail. But, I keep trying! Thanks for all you do!
You go gal! I’ve been Freeze drying seeds and then planting them back for germination rate changes…before that I put moisture absorption packets inside airtight containers and sunk them in the ground inside water pipe with a closed end on the bottom and a screw top…. this was on the vertical….used a thermometer to get the best depth for temp in all seasons ..then put a polyethylene Cord for fast and easy access…Ive got a neighbor who does the same thing but keeps his near the bottom of his pond all year round…a spring runs into it year round….a darn good root cellar works pretty well also…
Great segment. I have a shoe box that is overflowing. Last year is the first year I decided to save some of my own seeds and I plan on doing more this year. I saved strawberry popcorn, tomato, and pepper seeds. I like the idea of the ammo boxes and I have many brown envelops that will work that I hadn’t thought of using. I hadn’t thought of saving cover crop seeds either.
The first seeds I ever saved were from crookneck squash.What we didn’t realize was that they were GMO. We planted the seeds the next year, and what we got were definitely NOT crookneck squash! The vegetables were so deformed and scary-looking that we were afraid to eat them, and threw them all out.
Since then we make sure our seeds are heirloom varieties. We’ve also become a lot more aware of what is in our food — it’s pretty disgusting how compromised our food supply is. This has made learning how to grow our own vegetables even more important. We have 3 4X12 foot beds now, and while my success rate hasn’t been very impressive, each season we learn more and harvest more.
I have always saved my seeds in a coffee can, in envelopes and separated by flower, or food. I like the ammo can idea too. They are really inexpensive here. I will begin doing a cold, warm, cover crop, and flower can. I am a bit of a bee charmer and love when Bees, hummingbirds, been butterflies are flying all around me pollinating my food supply. I will grow flowers with my food to encourage this also.
Some really great tips. All of my seed saving has been pretty random so far. I have been mostly saving squash seed. Generally to prepare for eating, but then I usually put a few aside for planting. Had a really nice crop of spaghetti squash a couple of years back from a squash I bought in the grocery store, and saved the seeds from.
Some wonderful ideas here. We are just getting ready to start saving seeds in the 2021 season. Not liking where it looks like things are heading so trying to secure the future garden. Bought quite a bit of seed this year, all open pollinated and heirloom. Haven’t found everything I want yet, but found a lot. Just have to get space for it all. Just started gardening on this property this past spring. So don’t have much cleared and ready yet. Have never lived anywhere that I had to buy dirt before to plant in. We have mostly clay and gravel with just a thin layer of topsoil. Since we have lots of chickens we are working on improving our soil here as well as what we are able to bring in. But it will be a long process.