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Securing Long Term Survival With Seeds

Seeds are an invaluable commodity and hold the key to long term sustainability, and in some cases, survival.  There are many theories floating around on the correct methods to store seeds for long term use.  Knowing how to properly store seeds will ensure their viability for when they are needed the most.

Seeds are Alive

Seeds are a living thing and should in all the sense of the word be treated that way.  Seeds are dormant until they are introduced to natural elements such as oxygen, moisture, sunlight and warmth that create a growth reaction.  Keeping these elements away from the seeds will prolong their longevity.  Since seeds are alive, they can be stressed out and damaged when subjected to extreme temperature shifts.

The USDA [1] states that if seeds are stored at optimum conditions, they can last for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. Over time, seeds can succumb to the aging process and begin to lose their vigor.  It should be emphasized that if a person is purchasing seeds for long term sustainability, then the seeds purchased should be non-hybrid (non-GMO) and heirloom quality.  These types of seeds will produce fertile seeds that can be stored and the risk of aging seeds is diminished.  Typically, larger seeds such as beans and corn have a longer longevity compared to smaller seeds.

Seed Storage Methods

Seeds should be stored in an airtight container where the natural elements cannot effect them. Many people use their refrigerators, freezers and basements as a storage facility for seeds. Keeping seeds at room temperature will cause the embryo to consume its stored sugars within the seed casing and will either get too weak to germinate or die altogether. Seed packets typically have a “use by” date.  Once the seed packet is opened, the seeds should be used that season.