Editor's note: Get Growing, written by the La Plata County Extension Office's Master Gardener Program, appears every other week during the growing season. It features timely tips and suggestions for your garden and landscape.
As summer finally gets into full swing and the spring flowers lose their luster, (or you are like me and just have not gotten around to dead-heading your plants yet) you may be thinking about storing some of the seeds produced for the next spring. Here are a few tips to help make it a successful venture.
Most seeds stored in Colorado will easily have a shelf life of one year stored at room temperature; however, if you are interested in extending this for up to 10 years, then follow these steps:
•Seeds will need to be dried to 8 percent moisture. To achieve this, dry seeds at 100 degrees for six hours. The best way to do this is to spread the seeds and set them somewhere - shaded area during the heat of the day, full-sun if not too hot - where it doesn't exceed 100 degrees. A conventional oven may also be used. Just keep the door cracked and an eye on the temperature.
•Package the seeds in a moisture-proof container that does not leak when submerged in water. Some good items to use are jars and sealed cans rather than plastic bags.
•Store seeds at a temperature below 40 degrees. A refrigerator or freezer accommodates this nicely.
Seed moisture and temperature are the most important factors to consider. The drier the seeds are, the longer they will store. If the seeds are too dry you may create what is called a "hard seed," which will resist germination, so keep your eye on the temperature during the drying process.
And remember, seed saved from hybrids will not breed true. So even if you were to germinate the seeds the next year, many of the desirable traits could be lost.
Ashley Walline was certified as a Colorado Master Gardener in 2008. She lives in
La Plata County.