How long do seeds live?

How long do seeds live?

I love trying different edible plants and so I grow a wide variety of crops (and often several varieties of each one) every year. This adds greatly to my enjoyment of the garden, but also means that I end up with a lot of half empty seed packets at the end of the growing season. Fortunately most seed remains viable for at least 3 years (even if just sitting in a drawer) so you can use up the rest of the packet later. A few kinds of seed (corn, onion, leek, chives and parsnip) are only considered dependable for 2 years, so you should try and use these up in the following year. Others (cabbage, chicory, endive, cucumber, squash and tomato) may last as long as 6 to 8 years.

Seeds are sleeping plants
The exact length of time a seed will remain viable is determined by how it is stored. Seeds may not look like living plants but they are (just in a different form) and have to respire to maintain life processes. While a seed is dormant they do this at a very slow rate, but warmth and moisture (the same things required for germination) increase this rate, causing them to use up their food reserves more quickly. As these are gradually depleted, less is available for germination and their vigor declines until the seed is no longer able to germinate (this is why 5 year old seed isn’t as vigorous as one year old seed).

How to store seeds
If you are planning to use the rest of the seed in the following year, all you need to do is keep them in a dry, cool place. If you want them to survive as long as possible you must keep them very dry and very cool. This means drying them thoroughly (put them in a glass jar with a moisture absorbent such as silica gel) and then keeping them in a place that remains cool even in summer. For longest possible storage they may be kept in a freezer, though any seed you store in this way must be very dry, otherwise moisture in the seed may freeze and damage it.

Good idea
Garden centers often sell off year old seed packets cheaply when the new seed arrives in February or March and this can be a good way to save a little money and try some new varieties. It should still be good for at least another year and often a lot longer (just be aware of which seeds are long lived and which aren’t). The best deal is seed that comes in packets lined with aluminum foil, as this keeps the seed very dry and extends its life considerably (I’ve had good germination from 12 year old lettuce packed in foil).

We make it easy
If you’re at all unsure how long you should keep your seeds, we include seed viability information right in the plant description.

Introducing Smart Add Ons

Introducing Smart Add Ons
Smart Add Ons* are optional extensions to your Smart Gardener account for a small fee. They enhance your garden by adding new functionality, content and the ability to personalize what you are growing and how you want to grow it. These are our first Smart Add Ons, and we welcome your feedback. Registered users who send us feedback will get a coupon code for a free Smart Add On in the future when we launch more!

Bundle: Shade, Shapes and Succession
Smart Gardener offers an exclusive Smart Add On for Smart Gardeners who asked us for a couple features that would really help them manage their gardens better – being able to add in shaded areas, to lay out paths, structures, or trees that are also part of their garden area and to be reminded via their To Dos to interval sow certain edibles for a continuous harvest.  $5.99 (One time fee)


Smart Shapes
Smart Gardener offers an exclusive Smart Add On for Smart Gardeners who want to include other items in your gardens, in addition to your planting areas. Lots of you wanted to be able to show where fences, trees, pathways and buildings were on your layout. $2.99 (One time fee)



Smart Shade
Smart Gardener offers an exclusive Smart Add On for Smart Gardeners who wanted to be able to designate the shaded areas in their vegetable gardens. Smart Gardener will know to recommend and place your shade tolerate plants in those areas. $3.99 (One time fee)



Succession Planting
This Add On converts your households total quantity of plants for a variety into small batches that you sow or plant over time. Several smaller plantings are made at timed intervals, rather than all at once. The plants mature at staggered dates, establishing a continuous harvest over an extended period. $1.99 (One time fee)


* More about Smart Add Ons…
We will be adding more of these over time, Smart Add Ons for square foot and vertical gardening, culinary herbs, fruit trees, recipes and lots more. You’ll find all this in a new section we are calling GOODS. GOODS will eventually include a Community Marketplace for sharing and trading your harvest locally. Local goods and services will also be offered, along with great products we hand select and offer from our online partners.


Add your own varieties

Add your own varieties

1. Select “Browse” under the PLAN menu.

2. In the Browse panel, you will see a new link underneath the Variety list. Browse to find the variety you think is the closest in type to the new variety you want to create.

3. Select the Variety “Beefsteak” (our example) . Then click on the blue “click here” link as seen in the closeup above. A new version of the Variety “card” will appear below the original one. Just rename the Variety and edit (or not) any of the information in that card. You can change the image and the description. Most importantly, making sure the days to maturity and plant height are as accurate as possible for your new Variety will help Smart Gardener give you the correct To Dos. Your avatar will also appear alongside the Variety you created.

4. Save it when you are done. Your new Variety will now appear anywhere you select plants.  It will then be Smart Gardener’s goal to find a vendor and the most accurate data for that variety.