In most parts of the country, the vegetable gardens are shutting down for winter. In some areas gardeners have had a great fall growing season, while in others they are happy to see it end. While it’s tempting to just throw all the garden tools in the corner of the garage and store the pots, soil, and fertilizers on shelves for winter, there is one essential vegetable garden item that should be organized now. That is your seed packets. Taking time to evaluate how each variety performed, decide which stays and which goes, and store your seeds properly will enable you to be a little more organized and save money on buying new seeds next year. Here are some seed-saving tips:

  • Evaluate your varieties. While the growing season is still fresh in your mind, sit down and evaluate which varieties performed the best for you. I usually like to give a new variety a trial of a couple of years before deciding whether I like it or not. That way I’ll see it perform under different weather conditions.
  • Throw away old seeds. It’s tempting to keep hanging on to the opened packet of pepper seeds from 2005. It might have been a great variety, but it’s time to toss those extra seeds. Most vegetable varieties, if saved properly, will still germinate well for about three to four years. Some exceptions would be varieties of parsnip and onion, which should be purchased fresh every year.
  • Properly store good seeds. For varieties that you like and that aren’t too old, you’ll need to properly store the seeds. Seal up the seed packets well, making sure they are dry. If the packets don’t have self-adhesive tape, tape them shut with regular tape. Store the seeds in a cool, dark, dry area of your house. If you saved seeds from your garden for beans, tomatoes, and other vegetables you love, dry them well and store them in glass jars in the refrigerator.