Mr Fothergill’s has the following excellent advice on storing seed.

Plan seed sowing requirements well in advance to ensure you have everything you need in the amounts you need. Some newer and more unusual types may be in limited supply and stocks of particularly desirable varieties may be exhausted before the end of the season.

After purchasing seeds store those that will not be used immediately in a cool, dry place such as a garage - not in a damp shed or hot kitchen. Never put seeds in polythene bags or store them with things like onion sets which can sweat and make them damp. Where not all seed is used at one time, reseal the opened packets as well as possible and then place them in an airtight, screw-top jar.

Plastic vials give maximum protection to delicate seeds but, despite our efforts to prevent it, static build-up may sometimes cause the seeds to stick to the sides. This does them no harm and a sharp tap, e.g. on a table top, will often discharge the static but the best method of dealing with this problem is to pour a little very dry silver sand into the tube and shake. You should then be able to pour out and sow the seed with the sand.

Particularly hard seeds, such as Cannas and black-seeded varieties of sweet peas may not germinate well unless they are chipped to help them take up water. This can be done by making a small nick in the seed coat with a sharp knife, being very careful to avoid the scar on the seed which marks the position of the embryo inside.

A safer and less fiddly method we prefer is to line a jam jar with coarse sandpaper facing inwards, to place the seeds inside, screw on the lid and shake until the surfaces of the seeds are somewhat scratched or roughened. Another approach, often advocated, is to soak seeds overnight and to give the chipping or jam jar and sandpaper treatment to just those that fail to swell. Some research on sweet peas, however, suggests that soaking may sometimes cause stress and actually reduce germination.

Label all batches of seeds as you sow them. Don’t rely on memory which can be very fallible.

When direct sowing annuals you haven’t grown before, keep back a few seeds and sow them in a pot of compost. This will give you some reference seedlings to help distinguish those in the garden from any weeds that may appear with them.

After you have sown your seeds don’t throw away the empty seed packets. Most give information that will be valuable later, such as plant heights and how far apart to space plants when they are thinned, transplanted or set out.