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Only Optimally Stored Seeds Retain Their Full Germination Capacity

A seed packet often contains more seeds than are needed for one sowing. It’s a shame to throw away the rest. How can we keep them safe until next year? And maybe even longer?

Seeds cannot germinate indefinitely

Seeds are so small and yet so valuable: new life develops from them. That is why they are equipped with everything that is needed for a successful start. But these reserves are reduced over time and the ability to germinate decreases. Various influences at the storage location can even accelerate this process.

Best before date

In their properties, seeds are as individual as the plants that sprout from them. Some are characterized by years of germination, while others are only allowed to be kept for one season.

The best-before date is stamped on almost every seed packet, but this information is not mandatory. This data is also not reliable, because the storage conditions have a significant impact on germination.

Optimal storage conditions

The species-related germination is only preserved if you store the dry seeds optimally:

  • airtight packed
  • e.g. B. in tightly fitting glasses
  • cool, dark, and dry
  • Silica gel draws out moisture

Collect and store seeds yourself

Whether flowers or vegetable plants, almost all produce plenty of seeds at the end of the season. The collection does take some work, but the seeds are free. But seeds that come from your own garden must meet certain requirements so that storage is worthwhile:

  • they must come from true-to-seed plants
  • the seeds must be mature
  • also freed from pulp or plant residues
  • Seeds must dry before storage
  • wet seeds can become moldy

Label seed container

Keep the seeds in their original packaging so that you can clearly identify them at any time. If you collected the seeds yourself, they should label the storage containers appropriately with the plant name and date. It is also helpful to note the species-typical germination period.

Test germination

Even the best storage conditions are no guarantee that new plants will grow from the seeds. Since the seed’s ability to germinate is usually not visible, a small test will help. To do this, some seeds are scattered on damp kitchen paper and the result is examined after a few days. If only part of the seeds has germinated, it is necessary to buy new seeds or sow them more densely.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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