Seed Life and Storage Resources

Seeds being saved in jars

Why is a “Packed For” insert in my kit or seed assortment?

This means your kit or assortment was made entirely with seeds packed for the same year to ensure equal germination across varieties. In these cases, the "packed for" date is included on an insert inside of the kit/assortment and NOT on the individual paper packets themselves. This is because all the paper packets in your kit were packaged at the same time, so you can be confident all of your seeds will germinate as expected.

Each paper packet does include a lot number that allows us to identify and track the seed in our system. If one variety inside of a kit/assortment comes back with a low germination result, our system allows us to locate those packets immediately. All kits/assortments with even one low germination packet will then be opened, and the packet replaced.

We don't just stick on a "packed for" date and then assume your seeds are great for that year. We regularly check the lots and update as needed so that we know we are sending fresh, high-germination packets to our customers every day.

What Does a “Packed For” Year Mean?

According to the Federal Seed Act, seed packets are required to have a “Packed for” year stated. This is not an expiration date. Instead, it helps you understand how old the seed may be. As seeds age, they become less viable (able to germinate). How fast their germination rates decline is highly dependent on how well they are stored as well as their age. A “packed for” date will tell you approximately how long ago they were certified to meet the required germination standards needed to be sold.

The seeds will likely be good to use for years to come. Because seeds do experience reduced viability over time, it is best to oversow your seeds and thin them as needed. Or, you can test the germination rates yourself with the paper towel method explained in the "Seed Viability" article linked below.

Seed Packet Example

What Are Federal Germination Rates?

Federal germination rates are the minimum rates required by the Federal Seed Act for a seed to be sold. Here at True Leaf Market, we test our seeds regularly to ensure they remain above these standards. On our Seed Counts and Germination page, you can find these requirements for many of the seeds we offer.

How to Store Seeds Properly

The biggest factor in reduced seed life is the temperature they are stored at. Ideally, store seeds at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are not able to do this, try a location that stays cool (below 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit) and dark. Avoid fluctuations in temperature.

Besides temperature, you want to keep moisture, light, and pests out. Select a container such as a plastic bag, mason jar, or a tight-closing plastic container to store your packets. To help reduce any existing moisture, add a silica gel packet.

When you are ready to use your seeds, allow the container to warm back to room temperature before opening.

How to Grow From Seed

Are you new to growing from seed? Don’t worry. Here at True Leaf Market, we strive to supply you with the information needed to be a successful gardener. The following articles and guides will help guide you through the process of growing your garden from seed.