"Filing' winter seeds

Finally neatening up my messy seeds. How to save the "winter" seeds for next year? Radish, bokchoy, spinach, lettuce, sugar peas, carrots, etc.
Is there any REAL evidence -- not anecdotal -- that storing in the freezer will preserve viability better than refrigerator or just shelf storage, esp. during warmish summer and mild autumn.
This is mild Mediterranean climate - So. Calif coastal.
I want to cut down wasting money on seeds, since I often don't use up a whole packet due to lack of space, and would like to keep for later if practical.
TIA
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Consider a seed that has a lifespan of about 2 years at 50 degrees fahrenheit, 50% relative humidity. By dropping the temperature 10 degrees or by decreasing the relative humidity 10%, you'll double the storage life of the seed. Likewise, increasing the temp 10 degrees or increasing the relative humidity 10% will halve the lifespan of the seed in storage.
This is for conventional seeds, like most temperate zone crops. There are some exceptions to this, notably maples and most tropical seeds, but as a rule of thumb, the 50-50 rule works quite well for guesstimation purposes.
There are some limits... putting a very wet seed into the freezer will probably kill it as ice crystals form and disrupt the embryo. Drying a seed too far often leads to "hard seededness", where the seed won't absorb water when you try to rehydrate -- it's still alive, just in very deep dormancy due to the seedcoat issues.
If you'd like to explore this topic more fully, most beginning seed science textbooks do a pretty good job of it; this has been known for awhile, so even a 20 year old text gotten from some place like abe.com is likely to have a good discussion.
Or search AGRICOLA for key words like "seed longevity" and "long term storage".
Me, I'd put the paper packets in a mason jar with a couple of packets of silica gel and stuff them in the back of the refrigerator, next to the jar of pickled garlic. <g>
Kay
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Higgs Boson wrote:

In my experinece it's a false economy to save vegetable seeds; buy only as much as you can use (share with a fellow gardener if you can). There is no economy in planting old seeds that don't germinate. By the time you realize they are useless you've lost the growing season. Many years ago (~1970) I worked for a company that produced a product called "Grow Sticks", wooden sticks similar to a tongue depressor with a hole at the pointed end that contained a few veggie seeds held in with water soluable wax. There were single pant kits, multiple plant kits, and large kits that contained a variety of Grow Sticks with a bag of fertilized planting medium. The darn things actually worked. I was the one who built and maintained the automated machinary that put the seeds and wax into the sticks. The company kept the seeds in a large walk-in climate controlled humidor, but at the end of the production cycle they discarded all unused seeds, because if they sold seeds that didn't germinate they'd very quickly be out of business. I worked there about six months building and grooming the machinery and moved on to other projects but the company was in business for about ten years and made a lot of money selling Grow Sticks at all the retail stores across the US and probably elsewhere. I have a fairly large garden (50'X50') but I don't save vegetable seeds... I've suffered too many disappointments, vegetable seeds are cheap. In fact I planted some left over mammoth sunflower seeds I had saved from last year and after two weeks none germinated. I rushed out and bought a new packet, a big $1.49, and after six days they began to stick their heads up, I'm hoping that there are enough days left this season for them to mature even though they are only used to feed birds. Don't be a cheapo bastard, buy new seeds each year.
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Brooklyn1 wrote: ...

some cheapo bastards are planting a lot of seeds. if i'd run out and bought seeds for each planting this year i'd be set back about $150 (even if they were available locally -- many weren't). as it turned out my worst germination this year has been with some of the store bought seeds.
songbird
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wrote:

Most of my tomato plants this year are from seeds packed for and dated 2003. I have no idea if I'll get any of the usual NJ plagues between now and harvest, but other than that worry, it is the most lush and healthy bunch of tomato plants I have ever grown.
I did not start them in seed pots, either. I direct sow once the ground warms up.
I grow my sunflowers from seeds I cull from what I put out in the bird feeder.
I have a large collection of seeds I have acquired and saved from favorite plants. I add to it each year and rotate out/plant a lot of them, of course, but I tend to buy at sales towards the end of the season or whenever I see a bargain.
Boron
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On Mon, 02 Jul 2012 19:46:12 -0400, Brooklyn1 <Gravesend1> wrote:

But if you store seeds correctly, they'll germinate for many years. I've grown sunflowers from 20 year old seeds, same germination percent as marked on the package.

More likely they ditched them because they would have had to pay to have the seed germination tests redone so they could be sold the following year. Germ testing needs to be done within 5 months of the time the seeds are shipped for sale, per FSA. At $100 or so per lot to be tested, that adds up quickly -- it's cheaper to buy fresh seed in most instances.
Kay
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Make up your mind.
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And some plants such as pumpkins grow best from seed several years old. (although that applies to the plants Australians called pumpkins - I have no idea if that also applies to the plants that USians call pumpkins)
And for those of us who want to have seeds acclimatised to our locales, there is a need to both save needs and to use non-hybrids.
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***Kay, I see my reply didn't get in.
I was asking, per your +10, -10 rule, whether keeping jar in the freezer would be even better than frig. Can't remember what else I wrote, but could you speak to that point?
Tx
HB
THEY FOUND MY PARTICLE!!!! (they think...)
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Freezing temp is where it starts getting tricky. Harrington's rule for orthodox seeds is that if the sum of the temperature and relative humidity is below 100, then you've got adequate storage. But consider a freezer running at 20 degrees F and a seed with a relative humidity of 80% -- that's wet enough that if the freezer goes through a few freeze-thaw cycles (like most modern freezers), you're in the range that you could get ice crystals disrupting embryos. If you're willing to chuck several good sized packets of just out of the drying oven silica gel in with the seeds, chances are you'll be fine, and probably better off (by several year's storage) than standard refrigerator storage -- except maybe with large seeded beans, like kidney beans or limas. Those tend to go hard-seeded or sometimes the bean will crack internally if they get too dry, killing the embryo if you're unlucky.
Most of us don't need to store seed for 20+ years. If we do, we're probably going to invest in an old fashioned freezer that doesn't do auto-defrost and we're going to spend some time with relative humidity measurements before the seed goes into storage. There's just not enough seed in a standard packet to last most of us more than about 5 planting seasons... which means refrigerator storage in a sealed jar is fine. Grass seeds won't do well under those conditions, but bean seeds will probably be fine in a refrigerator in 20 or 30 years.
Every species has specific storage conditions that the seeds do well in, and those conditions vary from species to species, and sometimes cultivar to cultivar within species. If you want to put your seeds in the freezer, they'll probably do just fine -- better than in the refrigerator -- with the exceptions of beans, with no other preparation than chucking them into a container and chucking the container into the freezer. But they'll last long enough in the refrigerator.
BTW, there have been a number of experiments on germinating seeds after long term storage. One of the oddments that have come out of this is that old seeds seem to germinate better if they get a 5 minute soak in skim milk before planting. At least the last time I bothered to look, no one had a real idea of "why?" figured out except for carrots -- there's a seedcoat-borne virus of carrots and the skim milk inactivates the virus.
Then there's the Beale experiment on weed seed -- the guy who buried jars full of weed seeds in a hole in the ground, and went and dug one up and tried to germinate the seeds -- one jar every X years. http://news.msu.edu/story/1901/ Which I guess proves you can't beat weeds. <g>
Kay

And Steven Hawking lost $100 on it. <g>
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com> wrote:

Kay, I'm in AWE of your know-how!
As to my seeds, I'll opt for the jar in the frig.with the silica, as neither the seeds nor I have a 20-year timeline <g>.
Thanks for all the technical info.
HB
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Kay is not aloud to be ill.
--
Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden

http://marshallmcluhanspeaks.com /
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