Vegetable Garden

Look After Your Seeds – Make a Seed Tin/Box

March 6, 2013

Have you ever complained that the seeds you’ve sown haven’t germinated, that you must have been sold a dud packet? I remember thinking something similar years ago. It didn’t occur to me that I might be the one at fault, that I might not have kept my seeds in prime condition. As it transpired, there was no might about it, I’d find seeds tucked away on shelves & in drawers, pockets and boxes and hadn’t realised that they were likely to last a lot longer if they were stored correctly.

I wrote a post a few weeks ago answering the often asked question “how long will my seeds last?” One of the prime considerations for seed longevity is how they’re stored. Seeds are living organisms (albeit dormant ones) and as such need to be treated  well.

Most seeds can remain viable for several years if kept in a cool, dry environment – the cooler the better. By keeping your seeds in an airtight tin or container in a cool, dry room (or even in the fridge) you’ll increase their storage life.

It’s never advisable to store seeds in plastic bags which can attract moisture, instead keep them in the foil packets they arrive in or if they’re delivered from your seed supplier in small plastic bags as some of mine were recently, transfer them into brown paper envelopes as soon as they arrive before placing them in a container.

seed tinMake a seed storage container

So why make a container and not just throw your seeds into a tin or plastic sandwich box in a muddled heap?

Apart from the fact that specific seed packs are much easier to find if they’re ‘filed’ and you’re not having to rifle through the tin every time you want to sow something, filing them  between monthly divider cards will also help with your sowing plans.

How to make your sowing life much easier:

  • All you need is a good, rectangular or square airtight tin (biscuit or chocolate tins are perfect) to store your seeds in and some cardboard cut to size with the twelve months of the year marked on them.
  • Sort through your seed packets and take note of the recommended month of sowing. Bare in mind that Ireland is generally a couple of weeks  before the UK in terms of sowing dates so if the packet suggests you can sow the seeds from March onwards, think middle to end of March (weather depending) unless you grow your vegetables in a particularly sheltered and sunny garden.
  • Pop your seed packets in between the dividers.
  • Filing seeds like this comes into its own when you’re sowing successionally. After you’ve sown a few rows, don’t put the packet back into the original month, place it into the next month as a reminder to sow a few weeks later.

Always check the use by dates and use those seeds first.  If you find you have too many why not talk to vegetable growing friends and have a seed swap… you never know what you might end up with!

6 Comments

  • Reply cathsveggies1 March 6, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Wouldn’t it be great to be that organised :)
    I have found a child’s plastic lunchbox to keep my newest seed packets in. The others (many) are in a filing drawer within brown envelopes,but got damp over the winter, When I sow seeds, I move the packet behind the others. Some kind of chaotic order at least :)

    • Reply greensideupveg March 6, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      Yes, easier said than done, though perhaps it’s the Virgo in me 😉 My own tin for the veg patch is very battered now and not nearly as airtight as it should be! It also gets taken from pillar to post on workshops and demos. The top shelf of the fridge however is full of the gift collection seeds so much better in that regard! I do find the monthly dividers a tremendous help at this time of year though. At least in the lunchbox your seeds wont pick up the dampness :)

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