In the first section of this post, I dealt with the issue of seed storage. I did not, however, really cover the issue of storage containers.
For years I used paper envelopes – occasionally a ziplock bag for large or numerous seeds – sealed with gum adhesive on the envelope or a piece of scotch tape. If it’s not already on the package, I label with the seed type, variety name, number of seeds and the year they were harvested. I group the packages loosely. Pole beans, for example, are separated from bush beans, lettuce from other greens. Then I put each group in an appropriately sized ziplock bag and seal it, put the bags in the drawer or cardboard box or metal tin or plastic box (I think I just identified one of my organizational problems!) and leave them until I’m ready for my annual seed-sorting marathon. There are some disadvantages to this method. There’s a slight risk that your seeds could get wet, although a nice tight seal on a ziplock bag usually takes care of that. The biggest risk is that critters like mice can chew through both plastic and paper and devour your seed collection. A storage container such as a plastic box, glass jar or metal tin can solve that problem, but may create others if you have limited storage space.
I would also prefer reuseable containers for the things I store – not just seeds but lots of other things – and being the cheapo thrifty soul that I am, I would like not to spend money. I have two possibilities in mind: hard plastic pill bottles and the small glass bottles some vitamins come in (soft plastic vitamin bottles are often not stout enough to resist the teeth of mice or rats, so I don’t feel comfortable using them for my precious seeds). I’ve always hated the fact that when you get a prescription medication, you get a new plastic bottle with each refill. Not that I take a lot of meds, but I can’t stand to throw them in the trash, so over the years, they’ve accumulated. My pharmacy says they are required by law to use new containers and the recycling place in our town doesn’t want to take them, so I’ve acquired quite a stash. The glass bottles are a good size to store quite a variety of seeds and because they’re dark, they minimize exposure to light. The disadvantage of both is that it’s hard to pack them inside something like a cardboard box because they are rigid, while envelopes are squashable. Another possible problem with the glass bottles is that they may sweat if seeds and bottle are not perfectly dry; that can be solved with those little dessicant packets that so often come packaged with vitamins – you know, the ones that say “Don’t eat me!” in a sort of reverse Alice-in-Wonderland incarnation.
At any rate, I’m going to try some of both for seed storage this year and see how they work. I’ll let you know how the experiment turns out.