Storing seeds in case of Zompocalypse

Over Christmas, my seed company,, offered a spectacular deal to email newsletter subscribers of $140-worth of seeds for $39. Some of those who purchased this seed bundle wanted them not for gardening, but for what I like to call the zombie apocalypse -- a hedge in case the day comes where growing your own food is a necessity, not a hobby.

Naturally, I got some email and Facebook questions about how to best store seeds if you don’t plan to let your seeds see the dirt any time soon. Here is what you need to know:

1. Buy true seed, not hybrid seed. Hybrid seeds make up the vast majority of seeds available today. Hybrids are not natural, and are self-suiciding by design. Hybrids were invented to force people to pay for seed year after year, instead of growing their own seeds, as families had done for thousands of years. In event of Zompocalypse, you will need true seed, not hybrids.

2. Hybrids are often hidden. If you go to your local hardware store or most online seed companies, some hybrids are marked, some are revealed by special codes (such as F1) but most are not marked at all. The whole reason I started was to provide a place where people could get true seed, guaranteed. We never sell hybrids, and we never sell genetically modified seeds (no GMO!)

3. Parsnip and onion seeds don’t store at all. These two vegetables in particular have a very short seed life of basically a single year. So don’t bother to store these seeds.

4. Never store seeds in a can. Long-term exposure to oxygen corrodes seeds and slowly destroys them. Seeds stored in cans will be exposed to oxygen -- even if they have been packed in carbon dioxide gas, which some have. Those cans corrode and even a tiny leak can let in air.

5. For long-term storage, freezing is your best bet. Triple seal your seeds in freezer-grade plastic or foil bags, removing as much air as possible. To remove air, use the Archimedes Principle, or a vacuum sealer. The Archimedes Principle is simple -- put the seeds in a bag, and then lower the bag into water, almost to the top of the bag. The water will push out the air, and you seal the zip. Be careful not to get any water in the bag. Make sure your bags are triple sealed -- a bag inside a second bag, inside a third bag, with the air removed from each bag.

6. Fluctuating temperature is a seed’s worst enemy. If you plan to use your seed within three years, you should not freeze them. Instead, put them in a dark, dry, relatively cool drawer in your home and leave them alone. If you don’t plan to use them within three years, store them in the freezer. But if you take seeds out of the freezer, it is best to leave them out. Repeated temperature changes will damage seed quickly.

7. I strongly recommend that you store ten times more seed than you think you will need to feed your family for two years. There are few if any families in the U.S. which have more experience in year-round self-sufficient gardening than our family, so I can tell you from experience, it will take more seed than you think to feed yourself in an emergency. Especially if you are not an experienced gardener.

8. Finally, I suggest you consider ignoring all the advice I have given you. Instead of storing seeds, grow them. Choose open-pollinated (true seeds) also called heirloom seeds, and grow them. For health reasons, for financial reasons, and most importantly, to teach your children and your neighbors how to grow a garden. Do it now. Don’t wait. And grow a self-planting garden, which are seeds that replant themselves year after year. You can read all about self-planting gardens in my book More Forgotten Skills. You can find links to this book at You will also find the nation’s best supply of self-planting seeds at -Caleb


  1. Never heard of the Archimedes Principle before; thanks for the tip! I have, however, successfully stored parsnip seeds for at least 3 years. I don't do long term seed storage, but I do keep my seeds for several years. I put all the seeds in the fridge, in an air tight container, with dehydrated milk granules in the bottom. I change out the milk granules twice a year. Works for me!

  2. How could I have missed that sale--Ack what a good deal.

  3. Caleb, I heard that freezing seeds was not so good. Any moisture in them could rupture them. Is there moisture in our seed even when we really dry them well?