Starting a seed bank…….

Gardening is one of my hobbies. For the past 9 years I have continued to garden….learning and making mistakes. I look at gardening as one of those skills and abilities that go right along with preparedness. Supplementing food stored with that coming from gardening…well, just makes sense.

Every year I am always buying more seeds than I need. I also have not stored these extra seeds in any other manner than sticking them on a shelf in my garage. I have used seeds as old as 4 seasons – no problem. Germination rate a little lower – but they worked.

I walked into my local Dollar Tree store and they had a large display of seeds for sale. Packs of vegetable seeds were 4 for $1.00. I grabbed a few. After I got home I figured I would get more to add to my purchase some additional seeds as they show up in stores.


I chose a MTM Survivors Box to throw my seeds in. Pictured above is the start of the seed bank.  I am emphasizing the storing of “easy to grow” vegetables such as cucumbers, yellow squash, lettuce, and zuchinni’s.

I would recommend putting together your own seed bank – or purchasing a ready-made one such as those sold by MSO sponsor

Last thing – I know the whole thing regarding hybrid versus heirloom seeds. If you are looking to store he seeds and expect many seasons of gardening after their use – make sure you are using heirloom.

– Rourke


From the Supply House…..

All New Square Foot Gardening Book – under $12.00

Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre – around $12.00

Backyard Homesteading: A Back-to-Basics Guide to Self-Sufficiency – around $12.00

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  1. I bought a considerable amount of seed packets at various dollar stores, groceries and walmart. On a whim, I called up the seed companies to ask them which seeds were hybrid and heirloom. In each case, there was a very nice person who checked each seed name on a list for me. Surprisingly, the rule seems to be that most of these seeds ARE HEIRLOOM unless they say “hybrid” on them somewhere! Things like climbing beans and peas, and colored peppers are hybrids. One of the biggest surprises was that roma tomatoes are heirloom! I thought they were bred to have thick skins so they could be mechanically harvested, but apparently they breed true.

    This past fall I discovered my seed box was infested with incredibly tiny mite-like insects, who were turning my seeds to dust. I don’t know if they came from bought seeds or some envelopes with saved seed, but I put the whole thing in the freezer to kill the mites. Hopefully, enough seeds survived, else I’ll have to go nuts buying seeds everywhere I go again.

    • Thanks Oscar –

      I had never heard of that “mite-thing”. Will keep a look out. Might be a good reason to have a couple of seed banks and stored them in different locations.


  2. Good article. Thanks for the tip about the dollar stores Oscar. We have had the mite problem in the past, but now we store all our seeds in plastic bags, usually double bagged, and put them in the freezer. I was thinking as I posted this, need to do some research on a long term grid-down situation. We might not have our freezers forever.

  3. Use food grade diatomaceous earth liberally in your seed storage. The DE gets into the bugs respiratory openings and “kills them dead”. Food grade means you can then consume it if necessary. DON’T use DE sold at pool supply stores (pool filter media).

    Vacuum packing the seeds will also reduce loss to insects, fungus, and humidity changes. Freezing the seeds also extends their useful life while virtually eliminating infestations.

    All Roma Tomatoes are open pollinated hybrids. The cultivar was developed in the early ’50’s as a fungus wilt resistant hybrid. Hybrids can be any cross whether it then breeds true from the F1 or not. Most seed comapnies include one generation cultivars as their primary offering for one simple reason – you have to buy more seeds from them next year to replant your garden. Otherwise, they only see you as a customer once; that requires a larger advertising expenditure to continually develop a new client base which is really hard on the profit margin.

    Sometimes the only conspiracy is a desire to be successful.

  4. Menards in the Chicago area (others might too) have seed packages on sale 20 for a $1. Max 40. I bought 40. I think the sale has a week and a half left.
    I usually throw my unused seeds in a mason jar in the freezer with an oxygen absorber.

  5. I buy my garden seed for next year and put them in the freezer that way I always have one years garden seeds on hand . I have been doing this for several years now . Also the change in temp helps them sprout quickly when you plena them . Also if storing at room temp throw in a few moth balls to keep bugs out . That tip came from my local hardware / seed & Garden store .
    Hope that helps
    Robert W

  6. Try putting Diatomaceous Earth (DE) iit’s the fossilized remains of waterborne diatoms and algae, in seed box,kills bugs and fleas.
    . Grain Storage: Food grade DE has been used for centuries to keep stored grain pest free. According to Diatomite Canada the proper mix is 1 cup of food grade DE to 50 lbs of grain. It can even be ground with the grain into meal or flour and you’ll never notice it in the final product (bread, muffins, cereal, etc.).

  7. Hope this helps, I use Diatomaceous Earth food (grade) on my dogs so if they lick it off no harm done maybe it will take out a few internal parasites too.

  8. Rourke, I have been very disappointed in the germination percentages for my dollar store seeds. Park Seed is not Monsanto-owned and has foil packs as well as pelleted seed. I have had very good germination from three-year-old Park seed kept at room temperature, and excellent germination from three-year-old Park seed kept in the fridge. Park Seed packets cost five to ten times as much as the dollar store packets, though, so you might want to get cheap seed for this year and more expensive seed for next year.

    I have no financial interest in Park, by the way, and get most of my own seeds either from friends or from SESE.

  9. You may have to check, I know my wife does, but we store most seeds after putting them in the freezer for 3-4 weeks. This deals with parasites.

    Also, we keep them in the coldest area of the house.

    When buying seeds, we tend to stick with name brand, hierloom types and buy 2-3 times what we plan to plant. We check viability in February and go into planting in soil in April and May, then transplant into the garden in May/June depending on the types of plants and cold hardiness.

    We use raised beds for ‘upright’ plants, and tilled ground for spreading plants like squash and tall plants such as corn. It makes for a busy few weekends, but well worth it.

  10. To deal with the insect problem store your seeds in the freezer or at least put new packages in the freezer for a few weeks before putting them in your seed bank container. Also if you live in a high humidity area don’t forget to put a desiccant in the container.

  11. Honest question. Would vacuum sealing the packets help or hurt in storing seeds? I’m hoping to start storing some soon and wondered if that works.

  12. If you put some diatomaceous earth in the box it will kill the little buggers. Works great in grain as you store it also.

  13. I’ve never seen these things before either. I only saw them because I was holding up a little clear baggie of saved seeds and wondering why there was a collection of dust building up in the bottom. Then I got an -impression- of movement. It took a moment for me to see there were long lines of things moving purposefully through the baggie like ants do. But these things were too small to see anything but specks. (I have excellent eyesight). It was like watching ants crawl on the ground below from a second story window.

    So I held up some other baggies and paper seed packets, and looked inside the box closely. All but a few of the baggies had them inside or crawling outside, including the interior of the box. The baggies were sealed with a food saver, but I found some of them weren’t air tight. These critters most likely came from my saved seed and spread outward. I kept the box in an unused refrigerator, so the moderate temperature had allowed these things to flourish long after the weather had gotten cold.

    I’m going to do some extra research on saving and storing seeds. I could put my seed packets in mason jars and evacuate the air, but I think that could kill the seeds due to dessication. I like to freeze my store bought bags of rice and beans for a week before I dump them into buckets; this kills the moths nicely. Perhaps a short period of freezing will protect seeds for the same reason.

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