How to Save Garden Seeds: Tips for Beginners 2021

Every year, a lot of time, energy, and money are spent on gardening. Having a renewable food plot that can provide for you year after year is something that is often preached about in the preparedness community. 

Some people start their gardens anew every season by purchasing seeds or bulbs. Others buy seedlings, or plants that have already begun to grow, and transplant those into the soil. Both of these options are affordable and convenient, so why would a person need or want to save their seeds? 

The Benefits of Saving Garden Seeds for Next Year 

What if you could not simply run down to your local store and buy the above items? Maybe there is a shortage of plants and seeds, or their prices have skyrocketed, or God forbid something awful has happened and the option is just no longer available. 

The fact of the matter is that people tend to take things for granted and assume that whatever they need will always be available. If you take a moment to ponder this, you will see that can’t always be the case. 

The most obvious reason for saving garden seeds is that it provides a stockpile of seeds at your disposal no matter what happens outside of your perimeter. Prices could go up to $50 per seed, suppliers could be wiped out or the ever-looming zombie apocalypse could prevent you from leaving your property. Cool. None of it really matters because if you have your own stash of seeds, then you do not need to rely on anyone else to grow your garden. 


Secondly, depending on where you purchase your seeds and what brands you select, seeds that are bought one year may be different from the next. This could be due to certain varieties not being available or from a company physically changing the characteristics of the seeds themselves. By saving seeds from varieties that you like, you will always have plants that work well for you. 

Another reason to save seeds is that it does save you some money down the road. When everything is normal, seeds are affordable but why pay for the same thing every year if you don’t have to? Growing a garden produces two things, food that you can eat and seeds for growing more food. Plus, every little bit of money that you can save only helps in creating your bigger picture.   

Lastly, let’s think about SHTF scenarios or some disastrous event in which you may need to leave a region and possibly find a new home. People often talk about growing food in such a scenario, but where will you get the seeds from? 

It’s very likely that scavenging for them among stores will not produce any results and finding typical garden foods in the wild would prove extremely difficult. Saving your seeds gives you the ability to take them with you wherever you go if you need to start over. Carrying several packets that contain thousands of seeds does not take up much space and weighs next to nothing.  

How to Save Garden Seeds: Making a Survival Seed Bank

Saving garden seeds is a relatively easy and simple process, although it will take a little bit of time on your part and a few materials. But before we get into that, the first thing you need to do is to determine how many seeds you would like to save. 

This does not necessarily need to be a specific number but a ballpark figure. Are you wanting to grow a row of around ten plants or is your garden much larger than that or do you want to start saving more seeds for a rainy day? (Apologies for the pun) 

If you are only wanting to save a small number of seeds for the following year, those seeds can be obtained from the few plants that you intend to grow this year. However, before consuming any of the produce from the plant, the seeds will need to be removed and set off to the side. This isn’t a big deal, but it can be a bit annoying to remove all the seeds from, let’s say a tomato if all you want to do is slice it up for a sandwich.  

If you ware wanting to save a lot of seeds, obviously more plants will need to be grown. One method for doing this is to grow a row for eating and a row for seed collecting. You do not need to worry about collecting seeds from the eating row, simply use the produce as you normally would. When the other row starts producing, use it for collecting seeds while saving as much of the food portion as possible. 

What You Will Need 

  • Small paper bags, envelopes, or mylar bags
  • A permanent marker
  • A cutting tool
  • A scooping tool such as a spoon (this is not necessary but it can be helpful)
  • Wax paper works best but paper towels or cloth can be used
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Once you have your supplies ready to go and the fruits of your labor have paid off, it is time to collect the seeds. Follow these easy steps:

  • Collect the produce or flowers that contain the seeds and bring them inside
  • Layout a sheet of wax paper on a counter or in an area that will not be in the way and can be undisturbed for about a week. It should also be an area where it is dry. 
  • Use a knife and or scooping tool to scrape the seeds out and onto the wax paper. If you are using paper towels or cloth it may help to replace the paper towels every couple of days to avoid moisture from accumulating around the seeds. 
  • Allow the seeds to dry out for about a week.
  • If you plan to use the seeds the following year, they can be placed into a paper bag, envelope. If you plan to save seeds for longer than that, place the seeds in mylar bags and seal them. 
  • The seed container should then be placed in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight. The temperature of a refrigerator is a good range for storing seeds, so if you have the space store them in there. Be sure to write the date on the package so that you know how old the seeds are. 

Open Questions On Saving Seeds

Can seeds be kept in resealable plastic bags?

Generally, seeds should not be kept in airtight containers because if there is any moisture trapped inside there is a risk that the seeds could go bad. Seeds can be stored in such containers, but they need to be as dry as possible. Adding a desiccant to the container will help absorb any excess moisture.   

How long do seeds last?

This depends on storage practices and the type of seed that is being stored. Many seeds will remain good for one to two years but depending on the kind of seed that it is, it can last much longer or shorter than that. Peppers for example can last up to five years whereas onions may only last up to one or two years. Keeping seeds cool and as dry as possible will make them last much longer.

Wrap Up 

Well, there you have it. By growing a garden, you are producing a healthy source of food for you and your family, but by saving seeds, you are now self-reliant because you have a renewable source of food and a plan for the future. 

Thanks for reading and if you have any thoughts or questions about saving garden seeds be sure to sound off in the comment section below and let us know!

Written by Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021. Read more of Bryan's articles.