The lifecycle of all plants begins as seed and ends as seed.
Seeds are the lifeforce of the garden, they are where all plants begin, and, if left in the ground long enough, they are where all plants finish.
Growing flowers & vegetables from seed is one of the simplest pleasures of the garden and an incredibly economical way to begin your gardening journey. By planting heirloom seeds, you are participating in an important link between the past generations who have saved these seeds for years & the future of food diversity.
One of the most important things after you get your hands on some seeds is how you store the seeds you are not planting immediately as this will affect your seed germination rates.
In general, seed viability decreases steadily over time, so the expiration dates printed on the backs of seed packets are not finite, it is not like you will have a packet of viable seed one day & no viable seed the next. The degradation of seed takes time, and is impacted by multiple factors. Seeds stored in hot, humid & bright locations will degraded much faster than those stored in cool dark locations.
Most seed types will be viable for at least twelve months from harvest if stored in a cool dark location, something like a wardrobe cupboard or desk drawer is far preferable to a hot tin shed, glasshouse or your kitchen bench.
All seeds have a finite lifespan, however, some seed varieties will remain viable much longer than others. Onions, Chives, Okra, Fennel and Parsnip are some of the seeds with the shortest lifespan lasting around 1 year. Other seeds such as Celery, Eggplant, Lettuce, Tomatoes & Melons will usually have a lifespan up to 5 years if kept in ideal conditions, and in the middle you have seeds such as Brassicas, Carrots, Beets, chard Basil etc which will last around 3 years.
If you do end up with more onion seeds than you can fit in your patch, you can share your excess seed with other gardeners, or you can increase the seed lifespan by keeping the seeds in sealed glass jars in the fridge. Adding rice or silica to the container to absorb excess moisture can also be beneficial. When you go to use your seed again take the entire container out of the fridge & let it come up to room temperature before opening the container to avoid condensation.
Storing your excess seeds in ideal conditions is incredibly important for near-perfect germination rates and producing good strong, healthy seedings.
Nat is on Instagram as @buttenshawbackyardfarm