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GLT's Grow: Seed Banks Invest In The Future

seed pod
Annelieke B
Flickr via Creative Commons
Seed banks preserve species against an uncertain future.

A great way to preserve genetic diversity of plants is with a seed bank.

  • A seed bank is like a savings account for plants. Seeds are stored in a temperature-controlled environment as security against a future emergency, when those weeds will be needed to keep a species of plant going.
  • There are seed banks worldwide, including at Illinois State University. ISU is preserving the lineage of the Fell Arboretum.
  • Some seed depositories focus on certain plants, like pears, potatoes or corn. Not all seeds can be stored together. A parasitic mold in one seed might be devatating for another species.
  • Some seed naks also collect other genetic plant materials to preserve against an uncertain future. 
  • You can start your own mini seed bank by storing seeds form your garden. Choose rigorous plants to preserve.
  • You can start with a small box in your freezer. Dry the seeds first, then store them separately. If you find your storage needs are elbowing out the chicken strips, frozen waffles and ice cubes, look into getting a specially designated freezer for your preservation efforts.

GLT's Grow is your source for sage gardening advice and down-to-earth tips. Host Patrick Murphy and co-host Laura Kennedy are ready to take on all your gardening questions, so submit yours today.

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Reporter, content producer and former All Things Considered host, Laura Kennedy is a native of the Midwest who occasionally affects an English accent just for the heck of it. Related to two U.S. presidents, Kennedy appalled her family by going into show business.