One might think that the first step in growing vegetables from seed would be planting the seeds. Or maybe ordering the seeds. But as many gardeners know, one often has too much fun ordering seeds, and it's necessary to store some for use the next season. So the first step may be pulling out previous years' seeds from storage and wondering how well they have weathered the process.
|Cold room with seed bin and desiccant|
Fortunately, vegetable seeds do store well. My method involves an air-tight container (I use a plastic bin designed for storing dog food) and a desiccant (pictured above). The desiccant came from Lee Valley, but probably can be obtained from any hardware store. If you don't have too many seeds to store, glass jars with tight-fitting lids (e.g. pickle jars, etc.) work well.
Seeds are best kept in a cool, dry place. If you have room in your fridge, a temperature around 5 C is ideal. I don't keep my seeds in the fridge (I'd need another fridge!) but I do keep them in the basement cold room, which maintains a temperature of 5-10 C year round. I store the seeds in their original packages, grouped by year of purchase, in the airtight container along with the desiccant.
The desiccant is great stuff - it keeps the humidity within the sealed container low by gradually absorbing the moisture out of the air. Indicator crystals / panels which are part of the product start out blue and turn pink as the silica crystals become saturated with water. Once the desiccant loses its drying power, it can be recharged by baking it in the oven.
A little more about storing vegetable seed:
Storing Vegetable and Flower Seeds