Store garden seeds safely for up to 10 years.
image by dmswart: flickr.com
Many gardeners are frugal folks by nature. If you have sown your seeds for the growing season and have leftover seeds you cannot bear to discard or waste, the good news is that you can store them for future planting. By carefully drying seeds, you may extend their storage life as much as 10 years.
Store leftover seeds that you just purchased and used in the current season easily with no drying necessary. Place the seeds in glass or plastic jars for one year and store at room temperature. This storage method is sufficient if you have seeds that you will plant in the garden during the next growing season.
To dry seeds, spread them in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Set your oven to the lowest temperature, and place an oven thermometer in it. Heat with the oven door ajar. After the oven is warm, check the temperature. While you operate the oven with the door open, it will continue to heat up to attempt to reach the temperature to which it is set. By keeping the door open, you will simultaneously cool and heat the oven, so you likely can keep the temperature at 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
See if you can keep the temperature at 100 degrees by monitoring it for 15 minutes. If you can, proceed to step three. If the oven temperature exceeds 100 degrees, jump to step five.
Place the sheet with seeds into the oven. Keep the oven thermometer in the oven, and monitor the drying process to ensure the temperature does not exceed 100 degrees. Leave the seeds in the oven for six hours, and then remove.
Cool the seeds completely, then place them in a sealed container that will not allow moisture to permeate the contents. This type of container generally has an inner and outer layer of insulation, and the seeds are stored within the inner storage section. Store the seeds in the refrigerator or freezer for up to ten years.
If your oven is too hot for drying seeds, place the seeds on the baking sheet . While sunlight is an effective means to dry seeds, the seeds may get too hot in direct sun. Dry the seeds in a protected area in the shade on a warm day for six hours instead. Store them as suggested in step four.