A few years back, Kirk surprised me with a present – to go with my FoodSaver vacuum sealer machine. It was this:
Until he handed me the FoodSaver Wide-Mouth Jar Sealer and the FoodSaver Wide-Mouth Jar Sealer, I had no idea I could use my Vac sealer to seal mason jars. It was a game changer for bulk buys of rice and other grains. I could quickly seal the jars and put them in the pantry, extending the life of the dry foods by up to 5 times.
So it had occurred to me that why not use them in my garden, to extend the life of my valuable seeds? Especially if you buy non-GMO, heritage seeds.
Garden seeds lose a big chunk of their vitality in the first year, but often remain fine for planting for 3 to 5 years after. Although your germination rate will go down. That is based on how most people store leftover seeds – usually tossed into a junk drawer in a kitchen (or worse…in the garage or in a shed). The seeds are exposed to temperature changes and humidity, and the more humidity, the less life they will have. The key is proper storage.
Just storing seeds in clean, dry mason jars tightly sealed will help considerably. As soon as you buy seeds, stash them in a jar! And you also help prevent rodent or insect infestations.
But if you are buying large in fall, to get the end-of-year sales (50% sales can be a good thing if buying directly from a company), or have a years worth of seeds laid out, consider taking it a step above. For my planning, I divided my seed packets by type: Summer Squashes, Melons, Greens, Herbs, Flowers, etc. This way I know which jar to grab later on. And yes, I have a gardening binder where I keep detailed records of what seeds I have (that will be another post soon!).
After filling up each jar with the seeds I had on hand, I placed a canning lid on top. Then you place the jar sealer on top, press down good and connect the accessory hose to it and the food vaccumn. Run as normal, and ta-da, a sealed jar. Since I like the look, I then screw a band on. You don’t have to, but I just happen to like it. Do you need to do this step? If you want to really extend your seed life, yes. And since there are so many things you can seal with a food vacuums, it is well worth the investment (my model is around 11 years old now).
Since I really love labeling, I used a set similar to this (Chalkboard Labels), which can be easily applied and removed, and reapplied (they are vinyl).
To write on the labels, a chalk marker works well. I picked up a set of Liquid Chalk Markers, by The Board Dudes. Craft stores, office supply stores and well stocked office supply sections have these. If not, simple chalk also works well. Of course, a magic marker on the top of the lid works well also, so does masking tape.
Store your sealed jars in a cool, dry area that is kept at lower light. A pantry or similar works well. And then, go dream about the coming spring and what you will grow.