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Alternative seed saving containers

SeedContainers

When I am storing seeds for months at a time my homemade paper seed packets work great, but for seeds I seem to use many times throughout the year I was looking for a new option.

My solution was small plastic/metal resealable containers.  They are small and do not take up too much extra space and securely close so now worries of reaching into my pocket do find it full of seeds (had this happen more than once)  They are also water resistant (if not waterproof) so now worries about setting these down on some moist soil soaking the seeds.

You probably have many of these containers lying around your house from other products (prescription, OTC drugs, food containers, etc)

Unfortunately (I guess fortunately) I do not need prescription drugs too often and wasn’t smart enough to save any of my past containers so I opted to get some from an online supplier.  This particular one many options for specifically for seed saving containers at very reasonable prices.  I am also considering using these when I share seeds with others as gifts.

What sort of creative options have you used to store your saved seeds?

Free Vegetable Seeds

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Free Vegetable Seeds

  • Ask your coworkers: Are any of your coworkers gardeners?  Setup a seed swap at lunch and/or see if they want to go in on a seed order and split up some seed packets for varieties you only need a few seeds.
  • Harvest your own seeds: I typically grow at least one or two cilantro and pea plants to collect seeds from for the next year . Notice your neighbor has some neglected plants going to seed?  Ask if you can get some they may even look at this as free weeding (important part is to ask though)
  • Get seeds from the grocery store: Before putting those vegetables in the compost bin, set the seeds aside to let them dry and you got some free seeds.  The riper the fruit/vegetable the better results you may have on fertility here so shortest time between picking at getting up for sale will yield the best results.  So look for local fruits and vegetables or even better visit your local farmers market.
  • Get free vegetable seeds from the US Government: Have a little experiment or study you want to conduct and report the results on your blog?  Check out the National Plant Germplasm System from the US Department of Agriculture.  Within a database of over 10,000 species of plants you are sure to find some vegetables for your experiments.  Even shipping is included though can be time consuming to find what you are looking for.
  • Check your spice rack: In many cases you can plant seeds from your spice rack.  Just look for words like “raw” anything that has been “roasted” will probably not yield positive results.  Some ideas, mustard seed, dill seed, coriander, poppy seed, celery seed. If your spice rack is lacking you can pay a few cents buy a teaspoon of organic spices in bulk, last time I bought dill seeds got about 100 seeds for $0.05 which is a significant saving over paying $2-3 for an envelope of seeds.
  • Seed swap web sites: Below I have listed a few links where you can share seeds with others. This is a great way to find some heirloom seeds you might not be able to find in stores/seed catalogs. In many cases people will offer seeds for free by just sending a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope) Just remember to pay it forward when you come into a plethora of seeds yourself after this years harvest.

If this is all seems like too much effort you can just buy some very inexpensive seeds online where you can check out some of my personal favorites in my “Cheap vegetable seeds” post

Cheap Vegetable Seeds

Cheap vegetable seeds

Looking at my web logs I have seen the query for “cheap vegetable seeds” a few times so figured would be good to help people find what they are looking for. Being The Cheap Vegetable Gardener, I can do better than “Cheap vegetable seeds” how about some “free vegetable seeds” as well.

Cheap Vegetable Seeds

  • Buy online — You can find a much greater selection and some great prices compared to your local home and garden center. For example right now:
    • One of my favorites is Burpee Seeds, they have been around since 1876 and definitely know their stuff. The actually have a seed sale going on now where you get $15 off on order of $75 (just use code AFFB4A35) expires on 1/15.
    • The name is not too exciting but Generic Seeds offers no thrills packaging with quality seeds and very reasonable prices and if you spend $20 or more shipping is on them.
  • Local seed swaps — Many groups will have annual seed swaps where you enter for a small fee and/or a packet or two of seeds and you leave with much more than you came with.
  • Free Vegetable Seeds (pretty much)

    • Ask your neighbors — Notice your neighbor is a gardener, check if they want to go in on a seed order and share unless you really need 200 carrots this year.
    • Harvest your own seeds — If your plants bolt to seed early this year, don’t pull them out let them create some seeds for next season. Notice your neighbor has some seeding plants, ask if you can get some (important part is to ask though)
    • Get seeds from the grocery store — Before putting those vegetables in the compost bin, set the seeds aside to let them dry and you got some free seeds. Though a word of warning many vegetables are hybrids and may be infertile or not produce the same quality of product but hey its free.
    • Check your spice rack — Many cases you can plant seeds from your spice rack. Some ideas, mustard seed, dill seed, coriander, poppy seed, celery seed. If your spice rack is lacking you can pay a few cents buy a teaspoon of organic spices in bulk, last time I bought dill seeds got about 100 seeds for $0.05.
    • Seed swap web sites — Below I have listed a few links where you can share seeds with others. This is a great way to find some heirloom seeds you might not be able to find in stores/seed catalogs. In many cases people will offer seeds for free by just sending a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope) Just remember to pay it forward when you come into a plethora of seeds yourself.

    Saving money by saving seeds

    Many people do not know that given the right care you can save a package of seeds for 3 years and depending on the variety possibly even longer.  When you want seeds to germinate you provide heat, moisture, and light. To prevent them from germinating you want to do the opposite by storing them in a cool, dry, and dark environment.

    I happen to live in the humid Pacific Northwest so finding a dry location can be difficult, but I happen to have the perfect environment in my kitchen in my refrigerator.  Just thoroughly clean and dry a glass jar and drop in your seed packets and close the lid. If you happen to one or two of those silica packets lying around (those things you find in the toe when you put on new pair of sneakers) drop that in the bottom it will help soak up any moisture that may exist in the jar.  If moisture seems to appear inside your jar simply open the top and the dry environment will suck all the moisture out.

    Empty glass jar $ 0.00
    Silica packet $ 0.00
    Packets of seeds $ 15.00

    Total $ 15.00

    Savings over 3 years $ 30.00

    Seed types: Heirloom, open pollinated, hybrids, GMO

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    When you pick up a packet of seeds knowing what type of seeds you are growing is very important especially if you are planning on saving seeds from the fruits of your labor.

    Much like man’s best friend seeds come in many varieties, sometimes these occur with careful consideration of pedigree. others are brought together to complement both parents good (or bad) physical traits, and finally there are the nature chooses their own way.

    Heirloom: These would be the purebreds (English Bulldog) of the seed world.  These seeds are carefully pollinated and saved for decades or even hundreds of years to preserve the quality product that has been stabilized over many generations.

    Hybrids: These would be those carefully planned mixes (cockerdoodle) with both parents being specially selected to produce offspring that carries traits of both parents.  The tricky thing about hybrids is the seeds these plants create more than likely will not be that of their parents since it normally requires at least a few generations to stabilized their genetic makeup.  So your “tasty slow bolting cilantro” might end up being “tasty fast bolting cilantro” or “not so tasty slow bolting cilantro”  Even if you decide to collect your seeds if the seed company has patented that variety you could be sued for patent infringement…though I have yet to hear of a case of this occurring to a home gardener.

    Open Pollinated:  These can be thought of as the “muts” of the seed varieties.  Just like in the canine world these can produce some very fortunate accidents and produce some seeds no one could have even considered trying to create on their own.  There are many benefits to growing with open pollinated seeds.  First there are very little worries in collecting seeds from these varieties.  There are no patents to worry about and these varieties have a few more generations to stabilize their genetic traits.  By collecting your seeds and growing these along with other varieties to add some diversity to your garden and avoid establishing a monoculture which can be susceptible to pests and disease after a few short seasons.

    I should also state that Heirlooms are also open pollinated thought for most strains extra care is taken to prevent cross pollination to keep the end products as true as possible.  These

    GMO:  Now GMO or Genetically Modified Organism, would be the the creation of a dog which is crossed with a cat which has the loyalty of a dog but the bathroom habits of a cat.  In the seed world this would be seeds that are grown with “good intents” such as the creation of a potato that is resistant to the potato beetle, reducing the need for pesticides.  On the more scary side are seeds with “terminator” genes whose offspring that does not create viable seeds.  From first thought, this seems like a justifiable way for seed makers to protect their patents being infringed on, until you think about cross pollination.  For example lets say your neighbor is growing some GMO tomatoes where your friendly bees cross pollinate your open pollinated heirloom varieties.…now to your dismay now your seeds are now crossed with the “terminator” gene and you no longer can produce your own viable heirloom seeds.

    Though I have never actually found GMO seeds being sold to home gardeners, though for commercial seeds these are much more common.  Basic rule is to avoid these seeds at all costs.

    Growing carrot patterns with DIY seed planting sheets

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    My daughter likes to plant seeds but when working with smaller seeds it can be difficult to plant these seeds especially the farther the location is from edge of the garden bed.  I have been thinking about solving this problem with a seed strip which can be made using burlap, newspaper, toilet paper, or any sort of paper for that matter.  Next you simply stick the seeds to the paper at the appropriate spacing, let them dry and roll out as far as you want to plant.  This allows you to get your seeds ready in the comfort of your favorite chair to prepare your seeds and not hunched over your garden with an aching back.

    I a simple seed planting strip would have done well for what I was planning but I decided to go with the creation of my own carrot seed planting strip template that allows you to grow in the pattern of the vegetable you are growing.  Completely not necessary I know but it kept my daughter occupied working on the “craft” indoors this morning.

    Step 1:  Get you materials.  Start by downloading and printing a carrot seed planting strip template.  In the picture below I printed out two copies and glued them together for a few extra carrots.  Next you need some glue, a great option is to mix a little flour and water together to the consistency of toothpaste, but I wanted to keep the mess to a minimum and used good ole school glue stick.

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    Step 2: Glue on the seeds.  Take a small dab of your glue and put a drop on each circle on the template.  Drop a 1-2 seeds on each glued circle and allow to dry.  Once dry I give the paper a quick shake to find any seeds that did not stick and reapply if needed.

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    Step 3: Plant your seeds.  Make a flat surface with your trowel moving a small layer of soil from your garden bed.  Lay down your paper carefully on the soil.

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    Finally over your paper with a small layer of soil that you removed previously.

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    Step 4: Water Thoroughly.  You need to hydrate the seed to begin germinating but you also want to start breaking down the paper and glue to not inhibit those young roots from penetrating the paper.

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    This was a fun project to do with my daughter, but also considering this is a good way to get some prep work done ahead of time to make the take of planting (here in WA is many times in the rain) a much quicker task.  This can be great for crops you grow multiple times per season.  You can get your seeds out once, make your seed planting sheets with the appropriate planting dates and bring them out to the garden as needed.

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