Not sure if this is the correct forum, please redirect if not..
Just wondering if anyone has any experience with storing tree and veggie seeds off-grid with no fridge? I have a large formidable seed collection that’s been in the fridge up to this point, but the big move has started!
My thoughts are to dig a 4’ pit and store the seeds inside a heavy duty construction bin then bury it for now. They will be used in spring of 2020.
Any experience with this situation is appreciated!
For now, leave them in the fridge. The insulation should keep it relatively cool. Depending on your area, if you have the freon removed you could simply set the whole thing down into the ground and have a built-in storage area. The insulation of the machine, coupled with the insulation of the soil, should work fine. My parents used an old fridge for this when I was a kid. It was our root cellar for years, until the back rusted out and gophers got in.
Zone 5b/6a, alkaline soil, 12 inches of water per year. For now the goal is a water independent urban homestead with edible landscaping and food forest.
I used to keep my seeds in the refrigerator but found out that was ruining them by moisture. The heirloom seed site that I order from had a blog on seed saving which I can't find a link for now. In essence it said that keeping seeds DARK and away from humidity were the most important factors. Cooler (50s-60s) temps are best too. The way I have been keeping seeds is to place in zip lock type baggies that I put into a empty (large) coffee tin with plastic lid and that kept in our cellar. Also some seeds stay viable longer than others. basically the smaller the seed, the less year/s it can remain viable. Larger, more dense seeds (beans) can remain viable for several years. Do mark your seeds with variety name and year of harvest.
I don't know if burying them is the best, due to the moisture. Having said that, I've been really mean to my seeds since we went off grid and they're okay.
Our first summer was spent outside and it was really wet and cold. Lots of our stuff got moldy, it was so humid. My seeds were all in paper envelopes in a cardboard box...so not good conditions.
Now they're on a high shelf inside, still in their paper envelopes. In damp spring and fall, humidity in the house is the same as outside or higher, so not great for seeds. In the summer it's fairly to very dry, but hot. In the winter it's quite dry, but hot as well from the wood stove.
I haven't done germination tests, so I can't give you numbers. I have seeds that are years old that I'm still using, though. I seed heavily anyway, so something always comes up.
I agree about the moisture from putting things in the ground. I had some important papers I did that with. I put them in several zip lock bags and a jar with a tight fitting lid. My thought was they would be safe from fire.
When I took them out, everything was sealed good though the papers were slightly mildewed and smelled really bad.
I would not want to take a chance that my seeds might mildew.
Invasive plants are Earth's way of insisting we notice her medicines. Stephen Herrod Buhner
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Generally speaking I always save my seeds in paper envelopes collectively stored in a tin in my back room. The tin keeps out varmints and light while the back room tends to be cooler during the winter at least. I haven't had any problems with this. Many of my seeds are many years old and still seem to germinate. Though as someone else noted older seeds tend to have lower germination rates. I think there may be some types of seeds that need cold stratification using a fridge/freezer to germinate properly but generally speaking that isn't necessary in my experience.
I have a similar situation, trying to find an electricity-free option for the university's seed production and distribution project we're working on.
The solution I'm coming up with is to use sawdust. It absorbs huge amounts of water and is an outstanding insulation. Large totes or boxes filled with sawdust, then fit the seed containers in that and cover them until you need to access.
Honestly, if you are using the seeds next spring, you can probably put them just about anywhere dry. There are very few seeds that degrade that quickly, even in less-than-ideal storage conditions - as far as I know, for vegetables, only parsnip and onion seed is that sensitive.
We store our seeds in ziploc baggies inside a box in a cool, dark closet. However, our climate is cool and dry, so we could put seeds basically anywhere and have them do fine. If you live someplace hot and muggy, you'll want to make an extra effort to keep the seeds cool and dry, but you are talking about such a short time span (until next spring) that you probably don't have much to worry about, and it's likely not worth putting a huge amount of effort into (like burying containers and such).