Could you please tell me how long can I store my garden seeds?

Could you please tell me how long can I store my garden seeds? I would like to get them just in case the economy crashes but not necessarily use them right away.

The length of viability of heirloom vegetable garden seeds depends upon the variety, some will only keep a high germination rate for one or two years, others will keep well for ten years, but for either case length of viability and preservation of germination rate can be achieved the longest by freezing seeds (Note: heirloom garden seeds must be 8% moisture or below to freeze them, in the quotes below you find how to tell if they are dry enough). A great resource to answer the question of how long each variety will store is a book we carry and frequently reference ourselves titled” Seed to Seed” by Suzanne Ashworth. We would highly recommend finding this book at your local library if possible and purchasing it if you find it useful, it is a wealth of information on the subject of growing, saving, and storing a large variety of heirloom/open-pollinated seeds.
Here are several quotes from this book highlighting storage of seeds:

  • “Seeds will retain maximum vigor when thoroughly dried and stored in a moisture proof container”
  • “The two greatest enemies of stored seeds are high temperature and high moisture. Seeds that are stored at fluctuating temperature and moisture levels will quickly loose their ability to germinate.”
  • “Glass and metal are the only common materials that are completely moisture proof. Glass jars with good rubber seals under the lids, such as baby food jars or canning jars with new lids, provide a nearly airtight seal when screwed on really tight.”
  • “Seeds of all species can be stored for many years with almost no loss of germination and only minimal loss of vigor, when dried to about 8% seed moisture, sealed into an airtight container(such as in the above quote) and frozen.”
  • “A quick and easy test (to see if dry enough) is that seeds will break instead of bending when folded if their moisture level is 8% or less. Also hard shelled seeds, such as beans or corn, will shatter instead of mashing when placed on concrete and struck with a hammer.”

A way we have found of drying heirloom garden seeds for the home gardener to bring the moisture low enough, and keep high viability is using a food dehydrator, with very careful monitoring of temperature, as anything over 95°F will damage the seeds viability. We always keep at 85°f to be safe. Even placing on a window screen with a fan blowing on them until they are dry enough works.

Freezing will give you the longest storage of heirloom garden seeds, but you do have to make sure that their moisture level is low enough or the seeds will expand and crack and be ruined. They can also store well (but not as long), without the worry of whether they are of low enough moisture level, in a mason jar tightly sealed in the fridge, and for even better storage in the fridge wrap them either on the inside of the jar or outside with a material that will help keep out light.


Any thing that does not lead you to God is a hindrance. Root it out and throw it far from you.
– Jose Maria Escriva