I'm on a quest to build my food storage into a 1 year supply with foods that I know my family will eat. I've decided to keep a blog with recipes that I know my family will love and using only pantry or food storage items, and maybe in the interim this might help someone else who is also working on obtaining a 1 year supply with foods that not only your family can survive on but they will also love eating. If anyone has any recipes that they would like to add please email me at basicfoodstorage@gmail.com

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gardening and Saving Seeds Part II


You purchased your seeds, you grew your plant and now you want to know what to do with the seeds.  
First of all as previous posted.  In order to harvest plantable seeds you need to use Non-hybrid seeds.

FYI:  When a plant is ready to flower it stops putting energy into the food part and instead puts it into the stalk, flower and seeds. 

Root vegetables like carrots,  are generally biennials, this means that they take 2 years to make seed.
The first year it makes a root and stores food in it, then the next spring the root now sends up a long stalk, the tall stalk flowers and then where each flower is, seeds will be. Gather the seeds and let them dry out (see below)

Make their seed inside the fruit.  Melons, tomatoes, green peppers, eggplants etc.  First comes the flower and then the fruit.  For fruit plants you will let the seed bearing fruit get fully ripe, then scoop out the seeds and let them dry (see drying out seeds below)

Like Potatoes are similar to root vegetables, they send up a stalk sending pretty above ground flowers but then finishes by making potatoes with eyes below ground.  


Home grown seeds can sustain a shelf/storage life of 10-years (or more) if properly dried and stored.

  1. Dry seeds to less than 8 percent moisture, by drying at 100 degrees F for six hours. This can be done by drying them in the sun (most natural way), with a food dehydrator, or by using a conventional oven. Never use a microwave oven.  Note:  do not use your food dehydrator if it does not have a temperature gauge, as most food dehydrators operate a a much higher temperature than 100 degrees. 
  • Using The Sun: Spread the seed out in the sunlight, use a thermometer, try to obtain 100 degree temperature for 6 hours. Note: Because sunlight is harsh and can easily exceed this temperature, drying in the shade may be a better option if the outside air temperature is approx. 100 degrees.
  • Food dehydrator: Keep dehydrator setting at 100 degrees F for six hours. Do not use your food dehydrator if it does not have a temperature gauge, as most food dehydrators operate a a much higher temperature than 100 degrees. 
  • Conventional oven: Keep the oven door open several inches, and make sure the seed is not heated to more than 100 degrees for 6 hours. I would also suggest using an oven thermometer to check for temperature accuracy. 

Once you have dried your seed at 100 degrees for 6 hours.  There are 2 simple methods to see if your seeds have been dried to 8 percent or less moisture.
  1. Long seeds will snap cleanly in half when bent.
  2. Wheat, beans, peas, corn and other large seeds should shatter and turn to powder when hit with the head of a hammer.

Once seeds are completely dry, place them in airtight moisture-proof storage containers. Protect them from dampness, dampness will kill the seed. Store seeds in a sealed can, glass jar, or plastic container sealed with freezer tape.  Do not use plastic bags.  Note:  A moisture-proof container is one that stores seed safely while submerged in water.
Mark the containers with the seed names and date, then store them in a cool dark place. If possible, a refrigerator or freezer is an excellent environment for storing survival garden seeds.

Storing your seeds properly will achieve the longest life possible.
Remember these important factors when storing survival garden seeds:
  1. Constant cool to cold temperature (40 degrees or below)
  2. Dark place - never in sunlight
  3. Keep in moisture-proof containers
  4. The drier the seeds are - the longer they will store

Seeds from many plants can remain VIABLE for years if properly stored at cool - to frozen - temperatures. However, it is best to use most of your home-harvested seed the following growing season. A good emergency preparedness practice is NOT planting all of your seed... save some of each harvested seed variety so that you always have extra emergency garden seed on hand to plant and replace with the next seasons harvest.

Some more resources for harvesting seeds:
  • Seed Sowing and Saving: Step-by-Step techniques for Collecting and Growing More Than 100 Vegetables, Flowers and Herbs  By:  Carole B. Turner 
  • Seed to Seed: Saving our Vegetable Heritage by Suzanne Ashworth 
  • The New Seed Starter’s Handbook by Nancy Bubell 
  • The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control by Barbara Ellis and Fern Bradley.

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