Winter is a great time for seed sorting. If your garden is still producing, it will be a slower season now with less urgent jobs outside.
Now is the time for planning, preparing gardens beds, mulching and maintenance. As you grow more of your own food, you will need some sort of system for storing your seeds.
Seeds last anywhere from one season up to ten years, depending on the variety of plant and the storage conditions. Melons are one of the longest storing seeds. Parsnip are the shortest. Most other vegetables fall between 2-5 years.
You can optimise the viability of your seed by storing them somewhere cool, dry and away from rats and weevils. An airtight tin or glass jar in a cool place is a good option. Most op shops will stock both of these, or you can ask your family to save large tins and jars for you.
I have three main storage boxes. I’m lucky to have a metal-lined cupboard to store these boxes in, so I don’t have to further protect the paper packets from rats.
One seed box is an old long icecream container with cardboard dividers. I got the container from a cafe. I organise these seeds into flowers, natives, leaf vegetables, root vegetables, cucumber and zucchini, onion family, trees, herbs, solanacae (tomatoes, capsicums, eggplant, etc), and other. It’s like a seed filing cabinet. Use whatever sections make sense to you – annuals and perennials, by month to plant, alphabetical, botanical family.
I also use an old milo tin for pumpkins, melons, peas and beans. These large seeds take up space in the icecream container very quickly, so now they have their own place.
My other seeds are stored in a few jars for large amounts of odd vegetables like amaranth and field peas. Overflow of seed envelopes and plant tags are piled into a cardboard box. If you save your own seeds, make sure they are completely dry before sealing them in a container.
When it’s time to plant, I can quickly look up and find the varieties I need. I can check which seeds I still have, so I don’t double up when I buy more.
I put my saved seed into paper envelopes. I make these seed envelopes from reused envelopes, cut into four and taped along the side. If I’m giving them away, I tape them shut, but for my own use I usually just fold them over. I record the variety, when it was harvested, where I got it from, and any other notes on these packets.
There won’t be time to do organisational tasks like this in the busy springtime, so dig out those tins from the back of the cupboard and spend a night sorting and labeling. When the weather warms up, you’ll be all ready to go!
How do you store your seeds?