Storing Seed by the SA Seed
Seed Saving enthusiasts sweltered in the heat as well as the diversity of food being grown on the Adelaide Plains,
during the very hot Autumn 2005 Seedy Sunday.
Only moments into the morning visit to Gary & Sue’s conglomerate of organic ‘Joyeata’1 heaven,
we realised a whole day could’ve been spent listening to Gary’s
wisdom, and viewing the couples’ great growing techniques. They are not
afraid of a challenge – they’ve been growing organic variegated pineapples and organic mushrooms, as well as the
most delicious juicy organic strawberries in Adelaide.
Our scrumptious shared lunch was at Tony & Julie’s Buchfelde property.
There lies the valley of the figs (some 160 plants!) and other fleshy fruits. Whilst
sampling as many varieties of figs as the stomach could hold, to aid Tony with data for his fig-sentric research, we were
surrounded by fabulous design – old galvanised sheeting directing rain water into the gully and to individual trees,
a very large fruit tree greenhouse for bird exclusion, and a glass house which helps warm the home as well as provides a lovely
“hanging about” space.
We even managed to spend some of the day sharing information about storing
Saving seed is a cost effective method of preserving the biodiversity, taste and variety of locally adapted, regional
food through the selection of the best plants. “Second to breeding, the
most important factor in determining the vigour of a seed is the way it is stored”2
Seeds are lively things and have a limited life span, dependent upon how well it has been dried and stored. After drying the seed appropriately – (another article in itself) there are
three vital circumstances to consider when finding a location to store seed. These
include creating an environment of low moisture/humidity (a good airtight container – see below), of low temperature
(in a cellar, a room with constant temperature, burying underground – ideally the fridge/freezer) and in low light (darker
Good seed storing containers include: – metal tins with airtight lid – water and rodent proof, dark
inside; glass jars – able to view seed easily and recycled ones with original smelly contents (like crushed garlic)
helps to keep the bugs away; ceramic/pottery jars – consistent temperature; heat-sealed foil packets – airtight,
dark; cigarette foil wrapping and packets – nicotine isn’t good for beasties either. Adding a moisture absorbing substance such as silica gel or cotton wool is also advisable.
For future identification good labelling about the seed is essential. Include
– the type of plant, the uses of plant, when and how to sow and grow the seed, together with where and when the seed
was picked. These are vital pieces of information to record, especially if you
are considering sharing your seed.
Not all seed has the same potential viability (life expectancy as a seed). A
web search for “seed viability” will bring up a gamut of useful information – as does Jude & Michel
Fanton’s Seed Saver Handbook. Initially accessing viable, non-hybrid seed
is available from seed companies like Diggers, Eden Seeds, Green Harvest, etc or via a Local Seed Network like SA Seed Savers
(http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/SA_SeedSavers/), a local gardening club, a LETS/Local market or becoming a member of the Seed Savers
1 – Joyeata is the name of Gary & Sue’s
Organic Fruit & Vegetable business in Lewiston, which will home delivery to nearly anywhere
in Adelaide for a very reasonable fee!
2 – pg 37 Michel & Jude Fanton, The Seed Savers Handbook, Seed Savers
Allison Miller, amateur seed saver, lover of fresh food, and apprentice to the art and therapy of gardening