Frequently Asked Questions: Heirloom Seeds
How long is the shelf life?
Our Heirloom Survival Seeds will last for 4-5 years if kept in a cool place, under 60-65°F. If they are refrigerated, they should last at least 10-15 years. If frozen, they will last for a couple decades or more. You can store them right in the package they come in because it's moisture and light proof. Just keep them cool and they'll last for a long time.
What is the best way to store these seeds for short-term storage?
For short term storage, such as for next year's garden, you don't have to freeze them. Storing in a cool, dark, moisture free environment is sufficient. There is a section in the PDF guide that gives you planting and storing information.
What is the best way to store these seeds for long-term storage?
The way to preserve seeds for the longest life is to freeze them. For very long term storage, they should be placed into a freezer. Our bonus planting and storage guide will give you the best way to do this
Where can I download the Planting and Storing Guide?
The guide is downloadable at www.bonuspdf.com. It includes information on soil temperature, seed planting depth, plant spacing, row spacing, indoor sowing info, direct sowing info, germination times, sun exposure, growing conditions, water requirements, hardiness, days to maturity, ideal hardiness zones, life cycle, companion plants and incompatible plants. Any further information needed can be readily obtained online.
How long will these seeds last if NOT stored in a refrigerator or freezer? How long will they last if stored as packaged by the manufacturer?
When they are just kept as packaged in a COOL environment, they will last for 4-5 years. It's really hard to say because one person may think they are storing them in a cool place but it's not really that cool. It should, ideally be 60-65°F or less consistently year-round. That's why for storing them, we suggest the refrigerator so that they don't end up getting too warm during summer months. People who plan to use them as emergency seeds for a future disaster should freeze them right in the package they came in. Hope that helps.
Is it okay to freeze the seeds?
Freezing won't harm seeds unless moisture is allowed to get into them before freezing. These seeds are all dried to a moisture content of 8% or less before being packaged so that wouldn't be a problem unless they were opened and left out long enough to absorb moisture. If they have moisture, like anything else, when the freeze they will crack open. Using the precautions that are listed in the Planting and Storing Guide will insure that you have satisfactory results.
Can I put them in the freezer in the package they come in?
Yes, you can place them into the freezer, unopened, in the package they come in. It's safe because the package is a laminated, airtight foil bag.
Is the germination rate good on these?
We constantly test our seeds for high germination rates so you can be assured that they will germinate well when you need them. The package they come in has been zip-locked and then heat-sealed for double protection against moisture. We have locked in enough air to make sure the seeds have the oxygen they need to survive for the long term. Survival seeds are living organisms that need some air in order to survive.
Can new plants be started from the seeds that the first harvest produced from the first planting? So are these truly heirloom seeds?
Yes, you can plant seeds from each year's harvest indefinitely because these seeds are all open-pollinated heirloom varieties. Being able to collect and store the seeds from your garden each year will insure you will never run out of high-quality organic heirloom seeds to continually grow fresh, juicy, great-tasting vegetables.
How long does it take for the seeds to sprout? I planted several of them, and only about 3 types have started to show growth.
Many things can affect the germination rate of the seeds such as the particular variety that was planted, the condition of the soil, under/overwatering, sun exposure, etc. Our Planting and Storing Guide has all the information that you need to successfully plant and store the seeds we sell. It also gives the average germination times for each variety so you should find it very helpful.
What is the packaging like? Are these nitrogen foil envelopes to preserve the seeds for many years?
The seeds are dried to less than 8% humidity and then packaged, by variety, into individual zip lock baggies. The seeds are then placed into larger zip lock bags with a slit to provide a small amount of oxygen (which is necessary for long-term storage) and a small desiccant pack to absorb any excess moisture. These bags are then placed into a foil-lined mylar bag which is moisture and light proof so that the seeds can be stored for decades in a freezer or stored for shorter term in a refrigerator or cool room.
I bought these seeds last year and kept the remaining seeds in their original package in my kitchen cabinet. Are they still good?
The kitchen is probably a hot place to store seeds. They really should be kept in a cool place for storage since heat can affect the life of the seeds. Having said that, they should still be good for this year. In the future, you should try and store them in another location for best results.
Can these be mailed overseas? Are there any restrictions by any other country?
We're not familiar with the laws/restrictions in other countries but we're sure there are some laws that would restrict them. We only sell within the continental U.S. but we've been contacted by people saying that they have planted my seeds in a lot of other countries so we're not sure how they got there. We've read that there are laws in some countries against growing a private garden using heirloom organic vegetable seeds but we don't know that for certain.
Are these seeds certified organic?
Our seeds are grown on various farms in Oregon, in an area that doesn't allow GMO seeds. The names of the seeds will tell you they are heirloom, non-GMO seeds but the seeds are not USDA certified organic because the cost of that certification is prohibitive to be able to sell them for the low price that we do. The USDA won't allow us to say the seeds are organic because we won't pay them. You have to PAY them to be able to say anything is organic which we feel is wrong.
Are these suitable for sprouting or microgreens?
Yes, our heirloom survival seeds are suitable for sprouting. We used to include sprouting information in the planting and storing PDF. We have found a lot of information online about some undesirable effects of sprouting seeds when not done properly, so with that in mind, we have ceased recommending sprouting except for those who are sure they know how to safely do it.
Does it makes sense to use a foodsaver to vacuum seal the seed packs?
No, you don't want to vacuum pack the seeds. We package them so that they are ready to store either long or short term. Seeds are living organisms and they do need some air in order to be viable for long-term storage, so you can either store them in the laminated foil bag we supply or you can remove them and store the individual bags in glass jars with resealable lids. Just follow the directions in our downloadable Planting and Storing PDF Guide and you'll be fine.
Prior to freezing the seeds, is vacuum sealing rather than placing in a jar acceptable?
Seeds are living organisms and require some oxygen to survive. So, DO NOT vacuum seal the seeds—that could shorten their life expectancy by a lot. You can just place the seeds into the freezer in the package they came in, or you can remove them and store the individual bags in airtight glass jars with resealable lids. As long as you haven't left them sitting open for a long period of time, they will be perfectly fine. If they're left open for a long period of time, in a humid atmosphere, they could absorb moisture from the air and then they would be subject to cracking when opened.
Are these good for colder climates?
Many of the seeds are suited to cold weather gardens, especially if you take a few steps to protect the seeds and the plants as they grow. A greenhouse or cold-frame will help in extreme conditions. Some of the seeds that should do very well in those climates are beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, carrots, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, onions, radishes, spinach, and Swiss chard. Best wishes on the success of your garden!
Do you have corn and green bean seeds I can buy?
When we put this package together, the people we interviewed said that they buy corn and beans in bulk quantities and that this package was meant to be an addition to those items. We do offer a complete survival seeds package with our 105 Varieties Pack and Vault. They have Blue Lake Bush Beans, Golden Wax Beans and Golden Bantam Corn included in the package. We don't sell just corn and beans as a separate package.
Are these packaged for planting in spring 2018?
Even though the seeds are labeled as for the 2017 planting season, they are perfectly viable for the 2018 season and beyond. We normally don't change the packaging until the end of the calendar year which is the practice of almost every other seller.
How fresh are these seeds?
The seeds are fresh from the latest harvest. You can rest assured that we only sell the absolute freshest seeds and your germination rates are going to be 85%+. Also, we offer a full 100% Lifetime Satisfaction Guarantee on our seeds so you can be confident that you're getting the highest quality product available. Please check back with us, once you've had a chance to grow some really nice vegetables, and let me know how you're enjoying the great taste.
Are they on sale because they are old seeds? Will they germinate in 2018?
The seeds are fresh and will germinate very well at least 85% germination rate minimum. They are on sale because we want to increase the number of customers we have so that we can get our products out to as many people as possible. We know when they experience the high quality of our heirloom seeds they will tell all their friends, family and co-workers. Then it will increase in numbers and be a win-win for all of us.
We are in zone 6 and wondering if we can substitute a couple of them?
We have tried to put together a selection of seeds that will perform well for the highest number of people that we can and, unfortunately, we can't make changes because our production systems are already set up for the varieties that we offer. Even if you were to not use a couple of the varieties, the seeds that we're offering are still a great investment.
Can your seeds be planted in containers? I don't have access to a garden.
Almost all vegetables can be grown in containers although some of the larger plants can become a bit unruly. Try to match the pot to the plant for best results. Beets, for instance should be placed in pots that are at least 12" deep. Pay close attention to the spacing of different varieties so you don't crowd them. For some varieties, like tomatoes and cucumbers, you may want to place a wire cylinder around the outside to give them something to hang on to as they grow. Good luck with your gardening and keep us posted on how things come out.
Are these they types of seeds that grow in almost any soil? Think survival conditions: are these meant to be planted without special soil?
Although no "special" soil is needed, the better the soil is prepared, the better results you'll have so if you can prepare the soil, it would yield the best results. However, these seeds are very high quality and very hearty so if any other seeds would grow under the conditions you encounter, these certainly would as well.