Long Term Seed Storage
December 18, 2007
My seed collections come sealed in aluminum coated vapor barrier bags. Inside the pouches are a desiccant packet to absorb excess moisture. Our seed collections and grains should keep for 5 to 10 years because I seal and protect them. My collections may be safely stored in your refrigerator or freezer for even longer storage. If you choose to refrigerate or freeze the seed collections, be sure to take them out and let the seeds return to room temperature for a day before planting.
To store other seeds like our individual paper packets, put them into glass jars with metal lids, such as canning jars. Aluminum coated plastic bags, like the Mylar brand, can also be used. They can be sealed at home with a flat iron.
For really long term storage, a freezer has worked very well. The 'Grampa Neff' beans I planted in 2007 had been in the freezer for over 20 years, and they grew fine. Make sure the seeds are completely dry, and protected from all moisture. Remember, that means an air tight glass, or metal [including aluminum coated plastic] container.
Carefully stored seeds will last longer. However seeds of different crops vary in shelf life. As a general rule larger seeds keep longer than smaller ones. Corn and beans can last for many years with good storage conditions. Onions and Parsnips are among the ones that won't last more than a couple years. I have seen many different charts showing how long different crop's seeds will last, but they all come up with different answers. Like nutrition, it is not an exact science. This years advice always seems to contradict last years. It is not just the storage conditions, or even the exact variety, but how it was raised is important too.
When looking for long term survival seeds, you will need to grow carbohydrates from starchy vegetables and protein from beans and grain. No other grain yields as well, and is as easy to harvest and grow with out machinery as corn. If your crops are mostly light salad vegetables, what good will that do you when you are really hungry? String beans won't fill you up either. Watermelons and Summer squash are nice summer treats but will not fill you up for a long days work.