GOOD TIME TO ORGANISE OLD SEED PACKETS BEFORE BUYING MORE – 3rd wk in January 2014

Young horticulturalists, Alan and Ailish Neville, from Curracloe, sorting seed packets by varieties and 'sow by' dates.

Young horticulturalists, Alan and Ailis Neville, from Curracloe, sorting seed packets by varieties and ‘sow by’ dates.

Having moved from an urban garden to a field scale small-holding means that the organising of seeds will have to be up-scaled accordingly. My collection of partially used packets of seeds in some cases have use by dates going back to 2008! Áine’s collection of seed packets from growing in Curracloe is far more modern! I don’t hold out much hope for my older seed packets now after the move.  The seeds have not been stored temporarily in the most ideal of conditions.

In Balbriggan, the partially used seed packets were stored in sealed plastic containers in the fridge. (See the book ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ pp. 333 – 336). In Tacumshin , we’d want a very big fridge to continue that practise! The best storage option for the larger number of seeds needed for 3 acres is, I think, large heavy duty sealed boxes, like tool boxes. These must also be rat proof as the seed boxes are likely to be stored in a dry cool shed. We thought about storing the seeds in the attic, but in the summer that space could become quite warm during the day.

Any suggestions of good ways to store a large variety of seed packets welcome. Please feel free to comment by replying to this post. I promise to acknowledge and look forward to hearing from you. Now to order the many varieties of fruit and veg seeds in the organic seed catalogues – now that we have more space to grow them.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kathryn on January 23, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Mine live in sealed heavy duty plastic boxes in the potting shed Trevor. Most seem to survive with no problems. And of course Sonairte’s larger scale collection lives in old biscuit tins in a cupboard in the very chilly packing room. Biscuit tins are good because the lids normally fit tightly and it is easy to run a strip of sellotape round the join. Sort them by families and make sure the container is labelled.
    But before dumping even the seeds from 2008 do check germination. A lot of carefully stored six year old seed should still be ok. Space out ten or so seeds on damp kitchen towel, fold it over a couple of times, making sure they aren’t touching, and put it in a sealed jam jar or ziplock bag on the kitchen counter out of direct sunlight. Check after a week and you should get a good indication of germination. You can cut up the kitchen towel around the germinated seeds and plant the seed with its bit of kitchen towel in a seed tray or pot if the baby roots have actually gone into it. For small commercial growing its a good idea to have a wide range of varieties to give staggered production and all the Irish companies are good for that. For slightly larger quantities I’ve always found Tamar Organics are really nice people to deal with and have all the latest available organic varieties and excellent germination and growing qualities. They produce a lot of the seed themselves on their small family farm. I was amused to see T&M introducing the “new” Green Wave chard this year which Sonairte has been growing from Tamar seed for the last five year – customers love it. But lots of heritage seed from any source comes in packets that have enough seed for small scale commercial growing

    Reply

  2. Posted by Anne Troy on January 27, 2014 at 10:39 am

    I use one of those small steel filing boxed they come with divider folders and are vermin proof, I store them in my potting shed.

    Reply

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