TL;DR : make sure you keep them in a dry environment. Paper envelopes in a dry and cool room are perfect for storing your seeds. You can make them from scrap paper. They’re not only great at the job, but they’re also free, super easy to make and environmentally friendly.
Why do you need a way to store seeds?
If you like gardening and you’ve been at it for a few years then you have probably stockpiled quite a lot of seeds from different varieties of plants. Some of these seeds may have been bought, you might have gotten some as presents or from seed trades or they might be from your own harvest. If you like to grow heirloom plants, collecting the seeds is an important part of the harvest if you want to replant the same varieties the next year. This is very important if your varieties are a success and you want them to become adapted to your soil.
You could just buy the same seeds each year but this is not a very cost effective solution is it? There are other advantages to harvesting your own seeds. If you only keep the seeds from the strongest plants and the ones which offer the best fruit and the earliest harvest you will have great chances of getting better plants each year. These will also adapt to the soil and to the other conditions in your garden.
If you love gardening you’ll always end up buying new varieties anyway but isn’t there some satisfaction to gain from replanting your own harvest? It’s one more step to self-sustainability isn’t it! I mean, if you get the perfect tomatoes one year why wouldn’t you want to get the same ones the following year? You should keep the seeds from all the plants you successfully grow.
You can also trade seeds you grow in your own garden with other people in order to get new seeds without having to open your wallet!
This is one of the reasons why buying heirlooms seeds, even if they are more expensive at first, may actually be more cost effective on the long term. One seed packet might be all you ever need.
Some people keep their seeds in the seed packets they bought them in. This isn’t very practical because once they are open you have some chances they’ll end upside down at some point in time and you will loose some seeds. You may also stock them in small recycled jars but these can trap in the humidity and make them rot. There are a few options to stop this from happening: for example you can always add some silica gel to absorb excess humidity, (you can even reuse the little silica gel bags you get when you buy new shoes or a new bag). But why not directly keep your seeds in a dry place in little paper envelopes that will allow them some breathing space.
Our favourite paper seed envelope – how to
You might already have some ideas or some ways you make our own seed packets but we are going to show you our favourite way of making them.
Cut a piece of any scrap paper to a square (1). Fold down the diagonal to make a triangle (2). Fold one wing of the triangle across to the opposite “short” side of the triangle. What you want is to make sure the resulting top-side of the wing (marked “A”) end up parallel to the bottom (“B”). Fold over second wing in the same way (3).
The first of the two remaining flaps then needs to be folded over into the top (second) wing (4). By pressing on either side you can pop open the resulting pocket: this is where your seeds will go (5). The final flap is folded over into the top wing in the same way, closing the packet (6). If you mark the fold nicely, it can make quite a nice sealing packet. Sometimes it is best to strengthen the packet using some staples or glue, but this is not necessary. Add seeds, and don’t forget to write down what the packet contains.
Useful information such as collection date, variety, size or information regarding when and how to plant the seeds can also go on the packet. If you have a really arty side you can draw the plants on these small envelopes or you can print information or pictures on the sheet of paper beforehand. When you have a large number of these seed packets, you may need to organize them (we have them ordered by species in alphabetical order – but you can sort them by germination period or anyway that better suits your needs).
What size should you make your seed packets? Well, that entirely depends on the size of the seeds and how many you want to store for next year.
Firstly, the final size of the packet depends on the size of the initial square piece of paper:
- The bottom of the seed packet is a quarter of the length of the initial square’s side
- The top is a little over half of the length of the initial square’s side
- The height is a little under half of the length of the initial square’s side.
For example, if your initial piece of paper is 8 inches by 8 inches, once folded it will result in a seed packet about 3½ in high, close to 5 in wide at the top, and 2 in wide at the bottom. Or if you prefer centimetres, a similar sized 20 cm by 20 cm sheet of paper will result in a seed packet about 9 cm high, 12 cm wide at the top and 5 cm wide at the bottom.
This medium sized envelope is suitable for most harvests, that is tens or even hundreds of small seeds.
Many of your garden plants can easily produce seed, allowing you to replant the best of your home grow crops in the next season. For example, it’s very straightforward to collect seeds from your ripe tomatoes and prepare them for storage. Some plants even produce “ready to store” seeds! Check out our articles (coming up soon) on some of the ways you can get seeds from your garden.
You can also collect seeds from the wild while you’re out and about – plants usually produce seeds during in summer and autumn, but you’ll be able to find seeds year round in most climates. You can collect seeds from wild flowers to grow at home to attract insects and birds to your garden, making it more natural and beautiful at the same time. Many wild plants are also edible or have other uses. It’s worth noting that a few species can be dangerous especially if you have young children around, so it’s a good idea to check them out as well.
It is also important to know how long you may keep each type of seed before they are not viable anymore. Of course the hard part is getting them to germinate now, and stay tuned to learn the best way to do this.