You’ve saved and dried your seeds from this year’s garden. Now what? If you’ve read our guide on storing seeds, you know that seeds are best stored in a place that’s:
You may have an excellent location for storage, but what about your seed storage box? What you store your seeds in is just as important as the environment itself.
We’re going to share some seed storage box and seed organization and ideas to make your seed-saving adventure a success.
7 Seed Storage Box Ideas
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1. Bead Storage Boxes
A bead storage box can easily become a seed storage box. The compartments are just the right size to store your seeds. Just make sure that you’re either:
Buying a dark-colored box
Storing a clear box in a dark place (closet, basement, etc.)
For many people, mason jars are their go-to seed storage box. Why?
Many gardeners already have them on-hand
They’re made of glass, so there’s less concern about pests
They’re easy to stack and store
The biggest concern with mason jars is that most are clear, so you’ll still need to tuck them away in a dark place. However, you can now find amber-colored mason jars that come in a smaller size for easy seed storage.
Photo storage boxes can also be repurposed as seed storage boxes. They’re a great way to not only keep your seeds safe, but keep them organized, too.
Photo storage boxes can usually hold 50-100 photos, so you should be able to fit at 5-10 seed packets inside. So, if you have different varieties of tomato seeds, for example, you can keep all of your packets in one photo storage box. It’s a great way to keep your seeds separated and easily accessible.
You can buy packs of individual photo boxes, or you can buy an all-in-one storage solution like this one:
Have you ever seen a seed library? We love them just because they’re great for the local community, but they can also give you a great idea for storing your seeds. Most are kept in card catalogs that make it easy to find what you need and keep seeds organized.
You can recreate this seed storage idea at home, and it’s a great option if you have a big seed collection.
If you have an old dresser, you may be able to transform it into a card catalog.
We’ve shared some great storage box ideas, but what about seed organization? Keeping your seeds organized inside of your box will make it easy to find what you need when it’s time to plant or start your seeds.
Here are some great ideas for keeping your seeds organized inside of your seed storage box.
File Tabs: File tabs are a great way to categorize your seeds and keep different varieties in one easily accessible place.
Cardboard Dividers: You can upcycle old cardboard to divide your seeds into categories. Label each divider to make it easy to find the seeds you need.
Rubber Bands: If you’re looking for a simple way to keep similar seeds together, rubber bands are a great solution. If you already have rubber bands lying around, this is an idea that won’t cost you a dime.
These seed storage box and seed organization ideas will help you keep your seeds safe and protected until you’re ready to plant them. Just make sure that you’re keeping them in a cool, dark and dry place regardless of what container you’re using for storage.
If you have a backyard garden, there’s a good chance that you have at least one type of squash growing either in the summer or fall. In fact, there are more than 100 types of squash. Along with butternut, acorn, zucchini and the beloved pumpkin, you have Hubbard, kabocha, spaghetti squash, sweet dumpling and dozens of other squash varieties.
Each variety produces seeds that you can save, dry and store for next year’s planting. Let’s look at how to prepare your seeds for storage and answer some questions about squash seeds.
Do Zucchinis Have Seeds?
Yes! Zucchinis do have seeds. This popular summer squash is easy to grow, but you’ll need to sacrifice a few crops to save the seeds.
When you harvest zucchini to eat, you’ll notice that they have small seeds at the center. The seeds are easier to see if you cut your zucchini into slices instead of quarters or half-moons. Unfortunately, these seeds are immature and not ready for drying or saving. Seeds are best harvested from zucchini that are left to grow to full maturity.
Other varieties of summer squash have similar seeds, including yellow zucchini, crookneck squash, ball squash and pattypan.
In fact, all varieties of squash have seeds. With careful prep and the right timing, you can harvest seeds from any of the squash varieties you grow in your garden.
While you can save and dry seeds from the squash you buy at the store or farmer’s market, they may not breed true. The varieties you buy in the store are likely hybrids and may not produce exactly the same fruit. Sometimes, it’s fun to experiment, so there’s no harm in going this route as long as you know what to expect.
How To Save Seeds from Squash
No matter your variety, it’s important to know how to harvest and save squash seeds to prepare them for drying. The process you use will generally depend on whether it’s a summer or winter squash.
Saving Seeds from Summer Squash
Summer squash includes:
To save seeds from summer squash, you’ll first need to let the fruit mature beyond its edible stage. At this point, your fruit should be huge with tough skin.
Slice open the squash. You may need a sharper knife to pierce the tough skin.
Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Compost the rest of the fruit.
Place the seeds and pulp in a clean container, and fill it with just enough water to create a wet mass.
Allow the seeds to sit in a cool, dark place for 1-2 days.
At this point, the seeds and flesh should have a funky smell, and the seeds should easily separate from the pulp.
All of the viable seeds will have sunk to the bottom of the container, while the pulp and unviable seeds will be floating.
To remove the viable seeds, dilute the mixture by adding more clean water.
Pour off the liquid, floating seeds and pulp.
Remove the seeds that are at the bottom of the container, and place them in a clean sieve or fine screen.
Spray the seeds down to clean them off one last time.
Now, they’re ready for drying.
Saving Seeds from Winter Squash
Types of winter squash include:
Winter squash tend to have larger seeds than their summer counterparts, which are much easier to harvest and dry for storing. Their seeds are also great for snacking, so you can save some for roasting if you have more than enough for planting.
To save seeds from winter squash:
Split the squash in half.
Scoop out the seeds and pulp.
Place the seed/pulp mix in a colander or sieve.
Use the sprayer on your faucet to help separate the seeds from the pulp, or use your fingers to separate them.
Once separated, give the seeds one last rinse in the colander or sieve.
Now, they’re ready for drying.
How To Dry Squash Seeds for Planting
Now that you’ve harvested and cleaned your seeds, it’s time to dry them and get them ready for storage.
The drying process is the same for both summer and winter squash varieties.
After cleaning, lay the seeds out on wax paper or a paper plate to dry out overnight.
The next day, carefully transfer the seeds to trays lined with paper towels and allow them to dry out for another 2-3 weeks.
Make sure your seeds are spread out in a single layer to promote good airflow.
Check on the seeds regularly and turn them to ensure all parts of the seeds have a chance to dry out.
Keep your seeds in a cool, dry and dark space while they’re drying.
Once fully dry, you can store your seeds in a safe place until they’re ready for planting next growing season.
Sunflowers add cheer and beauty to your garden, and even when they reach the end of their lifespan, they still give back by producing tons of edible seeds.
A single sunflower can produce a bounty of seeds – 1,000-2,000.
You can roast these seeds for snacking or plant them next year to keep your garden cheery.
Where Do Sunflower Seeds Come From?
Did you know that sunflowers are actually made up of thousands of tiny flowers? Their heads are made up of tiny blooms, sometimes up to 2,000. Their petals are considered separate flowers.
Sunflower seeds come from the magnificent and unique flower heads of sunflowers.
As the growing season comes to an end, sunflowers reach the end of their lifespan. If you let them die back completely, their flower heads dry out and their seeds are ready for harvesting.
Harvesting and drying sunflower seeds is almost as easy as growing them. But you have to know when to harvest them for best results.
When To Harvest Sunflower Seeds
No matter what you want to use your sunflower seeds for – planting, eating or feeding the birds – it’s important to harvest at just the right time.
Typically, seeds are harvested anywhere from mid-September through October.
But how do you know when to harvest your plant seeds? Here are a few signs to look for:
The flower petals have dried out and fallen off. You should be able to see the sunflower seeds on flower heads.
The backs of the sunflower heads are yellow-brown, and the flower heads are drooping.
The seeds have hardened and turned black with stripes. If they are still a milky color, they are not ready for harvesting.
If you’re unsure whether your sunflower heads are ready for harvesting, pull a few seeds to see how far they’ve developed.
Sunflowers are vulnerable to pests and critters when they’re at the end of their lifespan, so while you’re waiting for your seeds to mature, consider covering the flower heads with brown paper bags, netting or even cheesecloth. Keep your protective covering in place with a rubber band or twist tie so that you don’t lose any seeds.
How To Harvest Sunflower Seeds
The best way to dry and harvest your sunflower seeds is outside on the sunflower head. Once your flower heads have dried out completely:
Cut the stem just below the flower head
If you haven’t already done so, place the flower heads in paper bags.
Hang your flower heads up to dry for a week.
How To Dry Sunflower Seeds Indoors
If you’re worried about critters getting to your seeds before you do, you can harvest them a little earlier and allow them to mature in a dry spot.
Wait until the outer seeds have matured, and then cut the stalk about a foot below the seed head. Once cut, simply hang and dry the heads for a few weeks. Make sure you hang them in a place with good air circulation that’s protected from insects and rodents. You may want to keep the seed heads in a paper bag to catch loose seeds.
Harvesting the Seeds
Once your seeds have had a chance to dry thoroughly, it’s time for the fun part – removing them from the flower head.
To dislodge the seeds, you can:
Rub the seed heads together
Rub the seeds with your hands
Use a brush with stiff bristles
Make sure you’re doing this over a large bucket or basin to catch all the seeds. This step can get messy!
Once you’ve harvested all of your seeds, allow them to dry overnight on a paper towel. Spread them out in a single layer on a flat surface to allow for good airflow.
How To Store Sunflower Seeds for Planting
Now that your seeds have been dried and harvested, it’s time to store them away for planting. It’s important to keep your seeds dry, cool and away from sunlight while you wait for next spring.
Keep your seeds in airtight containers or a paper envelope inside of a plastic container.
The refrigerator or freezer can help keep your seeds cold until they’re ready for planting.
Using a silica gel pack can help wick away any remaining moisture from your seeds.
Many sunflower varieties produce seeds that remain viable for 1-2 growing seasons. If you continue to harvest and save seeds each year, you can continue planting sunflowers for years to come.
Imagine having your own pumpkin patch in your backyard – an endless supply of pumpkins for carving and eating every year. Learning how to dry pumpkin seeds for planting and planting your seeds at the right time can make this dream a reality.
Drying pumpkin seeds is easier than you think, but it still requires some planning and careful treatment of your seeds.
Because pumpkin seeds are larger than other seeds, they take a little longer to dry out. It’s important to keep a close eye on your seeds and check them regularly to prevent mold.
Before we get into the drying process, let’s talk about the varieties of pumpkins. You can absolutely plant seeds from the pumpkins you buy at the store, but the results probably won’t be the same. Why? Because these types of pumpkins are usually hybrids. They may produce mini pumpkins or pumpkins that aren’t as colorful and flavorful. That may not be a big deal for you, but it’s important to know what to expect.
If you know you have an heirloom pumpkin or an open-pollinated variety, then they should breed true.
How To Dry Pumpkin Seeds for Planting Without Them Getting Moldy
If you want to save your seeds for planting next year, it’s important to keep them in the right environment and give them time to dry.
First, separate the seeds from the pumpkin pulp and rinse well.
Next, lay your seeds out in a single layer on a piece of wax paper to dry overnight. Pumpkin seeds can be sticky at first, so wax paper is ideal.
The next day, line a cookie sheet with paper towels. Lay your seeds out in a single layer on a dry paper towel to allow them to dry out even further.
Make sure that your seeds are spread out evenly so air can reach each one.
Place your seed tray in a cool, dry and dark place for about a month.
Every week or so, stir and turn your seeds to promote airflow and ensure all sides of the seeds have a chance to dry.
Paper towels are great for drying seeds because they help absorb any remaining moisture.
How Long Do Pumpkin Seeds Need to Dry for Next Year’s Planting?
While drying times can vary with seeds, pumpkin seeds generally take longer than most other seeds. Expect to dry them out for a month before storing them away for planting.
Dehydrating Pumpkin Seeds – A Good or Bad Idea?
It may be tempting to speed up the drying process by using an air dehydrator. However, dehydrators use heat, even if it’s just a little bit of heat, to remove moisture. That heat can make your seeds unviable.
Seeds need warmth, light and moisture to germinate. Dehydrators introduce a little bit of heat, which can leave you with disappointing results if you try to plant them.
So, if you want to plant your pumpkin seeds, skip the dehydrator rack.
Storing Your Seeds
Once you’re confident that your seeds are dry, it’s time to store them away for next year. Saving pumpkin seeds and storing them properly can ensure that you have an endless supply of pumpkins every year for carving and eating.
To store seeds from pumpkins, it’s important to keep them in a place that’s:
You want a cool spot, preferably a place where the temperature is consistently under 60°F. A dry basement or even the freezer will work well for seed storage.
When stored properly, pumpkin seeds can last for four to five years.
Aside from the environment, it’s important to keep your seeds in the right container. Some of the best seed storage containers include:
Airtight Storage Containers
An airtight container is perfect for storing seeds that you know are completely dry. If you want to use a container like this, consider placing a silica gel packet in with your seeds for a few days before sealing it up to remove any remaining moisture.
We don’t recommend leaving the silica packet in with your seeds while you store them because they can dry them out too much.
Many gardeners keep their seeds in paper envelopes or the packets the seeds came in. This is a simple, effective and inexpensive way to store your seeds.
Just make sure that you label and date your envelopes to keep your seeds organized.
Plastic containers are another great option for seed storage. You can find containers of all sizes to meet your needs. They’re great for storing packets of seeds or envelopes of seeds you save yourself.
Glass or Mason Jars
Glass or mason jars are also great for seed storage. They offer excellent protection against pests and moisture as long as your seeds are fully dry when you store them.
When To Plant Pumpkins for Halloween
If you want to grow pumpkins from seeds for Halloween, you’ll need to plant them at just the right time.
For northern states, plant your seeds in late May.
For southern states, wait until late early June or July to plant your seeds.
If you plant your seeds too early, there’s a chance your pumpkins may rot before you have a chance to carve or eat them on Halloween.
Planting Your Halloween Pumpkin Seeds
Vining pumpkins need a lot of space to spread out, so make sure that you have the room for them. How much space do they need?
50-100 square feet per hill
To plant your seeds:
Place them 1 inch deep.
Aim to plant 4-5 seeds per hill.
Make sure you have 5-6 feet between hills and 10-15 feet between rows.
Once young plants are established, thin hills to two to three plants.
Bush varieties don’t need as much space. Aim to have one plant every three feet and 4-6 feet in between rows.
Vining varieties are the most common, so plan to clear out a big space in your yard for your pumpkin patch.
Learning how to dry and store your pumpkin seeds will allow you to grow your own pumpkins every year. It’s a fun activity for the whole family and a great way to teach kids about gardening and where their food comes from.
Whether you’re saving your own seeds or buying them from a trusted supplier, it’s important to ensure that you’re storing them properly. Proper storage will help preserve seed quality and viability. But what is the best way to store seeds? How long do seeds last? Here’s what you need to know about seed storage.
Best Way to Store Seeds for Long Term Storage and Next Year’s Planting
Whether you only need to store your seeds for next year or the long term, creating the right environment for your seeds is crucial.
Let’s look at the best conditions for seed storage and how to prevent disease.
The Best Conditions for Storing Seeds
Seeds are best stored in:
Dry, dark places
A cool, dry basement is ideal for seed storage because it typically has consistent temperatures below 60℉.
It may seem convenient to toss your seeds in the garage or garden shed, but outdoor temperature fluctuations can make them unviable. Keep your seeds away from heat and out of the sun.
Start with Completely Dry Seeds
You can have the best conditions for seed storage, but if your seeds aren’t completely dry before you store them, there’s a good chance that they’ll spoil. Always make sure that any excess moisture is removed before you tuck your seeds away for future planting.
Check out our guide on How to Dry Seeds to make sure yours are ready for storage.
Temperature & Light Conditions
You know that a “cool, dark” place is ideal for seed storage, but what exactly does that mean?
According to the USDA, the ideal storage temperature for seeds is below 50℉.
Dim or no light is ideal for storing your seeds.
Many household basements meet these conditions, but it’s important to make sure that the space is dry. Ideally, the humidity levels should be below 50%.
How To Store Seeds Long Term – Storing Seeds in the Freezer
The freezer is the next best thing if you don’t have a basement or other location that’s cold or dry enough for seed storage.
The refrigerator is another option, but the temperature fluctuates each time you open and close the door. Unfortunately, those fluctuations aren’t ideal for your seeds.
The freezer is one of the best options for seed storage because it will provide the most consistent temperature for your seeds. But before you toss your seed packet in the freezer, there are a few important things to do:
Make sure your seeds are completely dry. Toss a silica gel packet in with your seeds for a few days to remove all excess moisture.
Keep your seeds in airtight containers. If you’re not storing your seeds in an airtight container, then you may introduce moisture that can spoil your seeds.
If you store your seeds in the freezer, you’ll need to take a few extra steps to prepare them for planting.
Remove the seeds from the freezer and let them rest for 12 hours.
Do not open the container until after the seeds have rested and come to room temperature.
Pests are always a concern when storing seeds. If you’re keeping your seeds in the freezer, you don’t have much to worry about here. However, if you’re storing them in a basement or closet, then there’s a risk of pests and disease.
Here are a few tips:
Toss your seeds in the freezer for a few days to kill insect larvae.
Use an airtight container. Pests need oxygen, and an airtight container will rob them of it.
Use containers made of heavy-duty plastic, glass jars or metal to keep rodents away.
How Long Do Seeds Last in Storage?
With the right storage conditions, many seeds can remain viable for more than one year. Those stored in the freezer can last two to five years in some cases.
Short-lived seeds are best replaced every year. These include:
On the other hand, some herb and vegetable seeds have quite a long life span, including:
With the right storage conditions and the right seeds, you can have seeds ready for planting for the next few years.
Expect A Few Duds
Even with optimal storage conditions, some of your seeds won’t be viable. Expect there to be a few duds. Even freshly harvested seeds are sometimes not viable.
Toss Any Seeds Past Their Prime
The quality of seeds declines over time, and eventually, some unused seeds won’t be viable. When storing your seeds, make sure that you write down the date of storage and the expiration date on the seed packet (if you bought your seeds).
If you have seeds that are past their prime, toss them or compost them.
If seeds are stored in a warm, humid place, they attempt to come out of dormancy. Warmth and moisture can also promote bacterial growth and attract pests that can ruin the seeds.
Using the right seed storage box or container in the right environment can help prevent degradation.
Seed Storage Containers and Organization
There are so many seed storage ideas out there. The right one for you will depend on the volume of seeds you need to store and where you plan to store them.
Here are some of the most common containers used for seed storage:
No matter which type of storage container you use, it’s important to keep your seeds organized. One simple way to do that is to keep your seeds inside the seed packets they came in and place them inside of a larger container.
You can also organize your seeds by:
Planting dates (spring, fall, etc.)
Use rubber bands to keep similar seeds together. For example, if you have multiple varieties of kale, a rubber band is a simple way to keep these varieties together and easily accessible.
Seed storage doesn’t have to be complicated, but a little planning and preparation can go a long way in making your seeds last as long as possible.
You’ve harvested seeds from your best plants. Now what? Drying seeds is one of the last steps in your seed-saving adventure, but it’s arguably the most important. If your seeds aren’t fully dried out, you’ll wind up with a moldy mess. To save you from this disappointment, we’re going to share some of the most effective ways to dry seeds.
If you haven’t already, check out our post on How to Save Seeds to find out how to save seeds from popular garden plants.
How to Dry Seeds for Planting
Humidity and excess moisture can cause your seeds to rot. A proper drying process will protect the seed coat to improve germination rates and prevent rotting. When dried and stored properly, you’re more likely to grow healthy plants.
Let’s look at a few of the most effective methods for drying seeds and the importance of choosing the right types of seed.
Choose Seeds from Open-Pollinated Varieties
When drying seeds for planting, make sure that you’re choosing open-pollinated varieties. These plants produce types of seeds that are true to type. In other words, it will produce a seed that is very similar to its parent plant.
Hybrid plants are created through careful and intentional cross-pollination of two parent varieties with desirable traits. While seeds from these plants can be saved, they won’t be true to type.
So, before you even get started on your drying venture, make sure you’re choosing the right seeds for the job. Now, on to the best practices for drying seeds.
Dry Seeds in Open Air – But Give it Time!
The simplest way to dry seeds is out in the open air. Typically, seed savers will keep their seeds on a paper towel or clean plate (paper preferably).
When you dry out in the open air, moisture levels naturally decline over a few days. After you’ve harvested and prepped your seeds for drying:
Lay your seeds out on a paper towel or coffee filter. If your seeds are wet (e.g., tomato seeds or pepper seeds), stick to paper plates or coffee filters. Otherwise, they’ll stick to the paper towel. Screens also work well for drying, as they allow airflow all around the seed.
Make sure your seeds are spread out. You want proper airflow between your seeds. If you’re drying larger seeds (like pumpkin seeds), you may need a few plates or paper towels to spread out your seeds properly.
Keep them in a cool, dry place.
After a few days, move the seeds around to break up clumps of seed and uncover any seeds that have less air contact.
Allow your seeds to dry out over 2-3 weeks fully.
After a few weeks, your seeds should be dry enough to be stored away for next year. You can store them in airtight containers or a seed packet.
If you’re drying wet seed, like those from tomatoes or peppers, it’s important to make sure they are dry within a few days. Otherwise, they may start sprouting.
Dry Seeds with Silica Gel
If you want to speed up the drying process or ensure that excess moisture is removed from your seeds before storage, silica gel is a great tool to use.
Seeds of Diversity recommends placing an envelope of your clean seeds and an envelope of silica gel in airtight containers for a few days. Doing this will help remove moisture from wet seed and excess moisture from the air, too.
You don’t want to leave the silica gel in with your seed packet for long-term storage. Silica gel can over-dry your seeds, so remove it after a few days. Keep your seeds stored in an airtight glass or plastic container until you’re ready to plant.
Dry Seeds in a Paper Bag
Another effective way to dry out your seeds is with a simple brown paper lunch bag. This drying process works best for drying seed capsules and seed pods.
We don’t recommend using the paper bag method for drying wet seeds. But it does work well for drying seeds from flowers and dry vegetable seeds, like spinach, carrots and lettuce.
Here’s how this method works:
Place the flower stalk in the brown bag, head-first.
Keep the open paper bag on a tray or table to dry out in a dry, cool room.
Allow the seeds and stalk to dry out completely over two to three weeks.
Once the stem has dried out and turned brown, you can use your fingers to separate the seeds.
Remove and discard any chaff, petals other plant parts.
Leave the collected seeds in the bottom of the bag to dry out for another two to three weeks. Shake the bag occasionally to stir up the seeds.
Give Your Seeds Time to Dry
One of the most difficult parts of drying out seeds is waiting. While we’re all anxious to store away our seeds for next year’s planting, it’s important to be patient and wait for them to dry out fully. Doing so will ensure that your seeds are fully dry and ready for planting next year.