Keeping seeds healthy in stasis is extremely important for various reasons. We are preppers, people who are prepared for just about anything. Our definition of ‘anything’ is quite extensive, ranging across disasters that destroy houses to getting lost in the wilderness to a long-term/permanent breakdown in the food transitional system.
The last possibility is what interests us here. If it ever happens, having the knowledge, ability & resources to grow your foods yourself for years is your only hope of survival… except if you have a storage space filled with foods enough to feed 300 people for a year.
Since I’m assuming that you don’t have a warehouse like that, keeping your seeds healthy while being stored is your only plan. If you fail to keep them fit for replanting, then it could be the end.
Conditions For Keeping Seeds Healthy In Stasis
First, you have to consider the seeds to be stored & realize that few seeds can be dried out and retain their viability. We refer to these seeds as “drying-tolerant seeds,” and are made up of basically every herb and vegetable and some trees.
Usually, you can identify a seed intolerant to drying by observing how it reacts in casual conditions. In its natural setting, such a seed often drops on the ground and germinates immediately.
Drying-tolerant or intolerant does not mean everything, though. Different types of seeds can be preserved for years (some forever), but only if the ideal storage conditions are kept to.
So, what are these optimum conditions?
The basic storage rules are that humidity levels in the storage space should fall between 25–35%. No more; no less. A typical home is dry during winter, often falling well below 25%. When this happens, moisture is drawn from the delicate structures of the seeds. As a result, there is a significant reduction in their vitality & germination rate. The crux here remains thus: should the humidity level of your storage room ever fall below the ideal temperature for a long while, your seeds are highly likely to lose up to 50% of their vitality, if not 100%.
So, what do you do? Don’t be depressed. While you may be unable to have storage rooms like those used by professional seed preservers, you can store your seeds for many years by keeping to these free tips.
After drying out your seeds, simply store in air-tight, absolutely sealed containers like doubled Ziplocs or glass jars. These two examples are your best choices because although items like cardboard boxes, paper envelopes & cloth bags can be used, your seeds can only be preserved for a short while.
To further control moisture, consider using silica packets or any other desiccant to soak up extra water. If you can find a hygrometer, it’d be perfect, as the machine will regulate the moisture level of your storage spaces as long as it is powered.
Temperature is equally important as humidity, and it is also regulated within a very narrow range. There are several suggestions that the ideal temperature for preserving seed is the freezing temp. Yes, but I seriously doubt that it will for long-term plans stretching into 2–3 seasons.
I would recommend that you store seeds at a temperature of 40–45°. So, what you have to do is maintain the temperature of your storage room to this degree. Thankfully, temperature is easy to manipulate, except when you’re running a fever.
Regulating Exposure To Light
The three factors: temperature, humidity & light exposure, are equally important to the vitality of stored seeds. Any shortcoming in the aspect of one may ruin the whole preservation process. Seeds are best stored in a dark, cool place, much like most foods and chemicals. Intense exposure to light will cause seeds to lose fruitfulness and deteriorate rapidly.
Ensure that storage conditions are kept constant (or at least, vary narrowly) as you store seeds. It is harmful to seeds if they experience a sudden transition from a low-light, elevated humidity to a drying, chilling, greatly dark room.
Common Problems of Keeping Seeds Healthy In Stasis
Seed storage has some problems which may cause your entire harvest to go to waste. Let us look at these problems to know how to avoid them.
Mold & Mildew
Rot is common for seeds that were poorly dehydrated before getting sealed in plastic or glass. You have to be sure that seeds are well dried before sealing.
Here is a simple test to determine whether seeds are properly dried before storing: keep the seeds in closed plastic bags or glass jars & wait for some time. If the containers show condensation within some hours, it means that your seeds are not thoroughly dried and have to dry out once again.
Do keep in mind that seeds sealed before being well dried out will rot very easily & quickly.
Beetles, weevils, borers & other small insects are the commonest pests of seeds, and they often go unnoticed after seeds are preserved. These tiny destroyers will wreak damage on seeds while they are in storage.
A suggestion is to add small diatomaceous earth (food grade) to the seeds before they are stored. DE is safe, non-toxic & very affordable. It can be bought at gardens or online retailer stores like Amazon & Alibaba. You don’t need much. Simply ensure that every seed is coated with the substance before sealing. This is much safer than powerful insecticides, as they may be harmful when you invest them later.
Rats & mice are usually very much thrilled to come across stored seeds. This is because they have teeth that are sharp enough to cut through several materials. Therefore, when dealing with seeds, do so in a sturdy plastic or metal container that is impossible for rodents to eat through. Failure to use vermin-proof storage containers is one of the worst mistakes you’ll make when storing seeds.
Takeaways From Keeping Seeds Healthy In Stasis
Keeping seeds healthy in stasis can be done by adhering to all guidelines above. Regulate the humidity, temperature, and light-exposure levels of your storage room. Ensure that seeds are stored in containers resistant to rodents and coated with DE. Pertinently, they should be perfectly dried before sealing to avoid mold & mildew.