As we continue to pack up our house in preparation for an eventual move I look at my box of seeds and wonder how long will seeds last? Should I pack them up and take them with me? Like most home gardeners I’m frugal and I hate to throw anything away, especially leftover garden seeds from one year to the next.
For long term storage seeds should be kept in the freezer. However that is not an option when planning a move across the country. So I will keep my seeds dry and in a dark place until they are ready to be planted again. Seeds should be stored with some type of desiccant in a sealed jar. You can actually use rice as a desiccant.
But how long do seeds last? Some types of seeds are naturally more short lived than others. Did you know that some seeds have a higher oil content than others and that these are the seeds with the shortest shelf life. Parsnips, spinach, lettuce and onion seeds have the shortest seed life.
Beans, beets, leeks, parsley, peppers, and Swiss chard seeds will usually be good for up to two years.
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, and tomatoes should last for three years.
Turnips and flower seeds are generally good for four years.
If you keep your seeds dry and cool you may find they will last longer then the time periods I mentioned. I have heard of seed savers who have kept seeds for years and had success growing them.
Now that I know how long seeds will last I can now sort through my seeds and check the dates on the envelopes and decide which seeds I will be taking with us. Another thing that I will have to consider is will the seeds grow in the Pacific Northwest? I believe most of my seeds will do fine. Vermont has a very short growing season and although the PNW may have more rain and less sun I should still be able to have a vegetable garden. Any of my readers familiar with growing vegetables in the PNW?