Creating your own private seed bank is easy for any home gardener to do, and requires minimal investment and time. Depending on how big you want to go, more materials and time may be required, but this will get anybody at home started.
The method below outlines cool storage, at 4°C in a home refrigerator.
- Seeds in paper packets (coin envelope size), properly labelled with the information about the variety.
- Air tight container. Glass is best for permanent storage. Plastic can be used temporarily.
- Desiccants (can be purchased as silica pellets from pharmacies, or at craft-supply stores for flower drying).
This how-to assumes that you’ve already cleaned and air-dried your seeds. If you’re wondering how to do that, you can view different methods for different kinds of seeds here.
1. First begin by gathering your seed. Place them in the paper packets (paper will allow air circulation and prevent mould, rot, or germination), and label with the name, variety, and any notes you would like to include. I include the characteristics of the plant like growing days, size, quantity of seed, etc.
2. Pre-dry your seed with your desiccant before storage. This is important because you don’t want to actually store your seed long-term with the desiccant, as this can cause the seeds to become overly dry, and your germination will suffer. What you do want is to get the seed dry enough to prevent any mould or rot. Place the desiccant in an airtight container. It can be the same one you’re storing your seeds in (you’ll need to clean it before long-term storage), or it can be a separate container that just holds the desiccant. Put your packaged seed in the container for 1-2 weeks, depending upon your climate. More humid climates, leave the seeds in the container for drying longer.
3. After your pre-drying phase of 1-2 weeks, place your seeds in their long-term home. Large, wide-mouth mason jars work great for this.
4. Label the container so family members aren’t constantly taking it out and looking to find food.
5. Place in the fridge.
Easy and simple method for cool storage, which should keep your seed viable for around 10 years, depending upon the plant type. Germination will go down to about 60% in this time frame, so be sure to save enough seed to account for this.
Special thanks to dear friends, Dan & Val, whose tips and advice have helped me start up my own seed bank. Dan & Val’s blog can be found here.
For cold method seed saving, stored at -18°C, please check out the method detailed here.