I love gardening. I love working with my hands in the dirt, growing multiple vegetables from tiny seeds and anticipating the fall harvest.
But with everything I love about gardening, there are some drawbacks.
One of the drawbacks I have faced with gardening is keeping my seeds organized from year to year.
For many years, I just kept them tucked in the large envelope I got when I ordered my seeds online.
But everytime I wanted to see what I had, I would need to dump out the envelope and go through them individually.
Sometimes seeds would fall out of their little packets and it would be a real mess.
So I have come up with a solution that works for me and I want to share it today. Maybe it will work for you too!
Why should I organize my seeds?
- To help you see at a glance what you have.
- So you don’t buy more than you need each year.
- So you can use older seeds first before they expire.
- To help you plan your garden.
How do I organize my seeds?
There are many ways to store your seeds. You can put them in a plastic bag, use baseball card holders to keep them in a binder or use an accordian folder (think coupons).
You might also want to think about what order you want to store your seeds in:
- alphabetical (by name or type)
- by season
- by date purchased
- by family (root crops, brassicas, legumes, leafy greens, etc)
This is the way I store mine:
First, I lay out all of my seeds and organize them by type.
Then, I use a plastic recipe box I got from Walmart to keep them organized. You can get a similar one here: Plastic 4×6 Recipe Box.
I make a list of each type of seed. Then I used 4×6 index cards (blank) and markers to make dividers in the box. I ordered the cards by alphabet according to type.
So now I have my seeds organized for the year. I can fold down the tops of the packets to close the box.
They are easy to access and find the seeds I need quickly and efficiently.
What should I store my seeds in for the rest of the year?
Once you find a system of seed organization you like, you should store your seeds in a cool, dark place. Some people store their seeds in their freezer (everything but citrus) or refrigerator. If you don’t have that kind of room, just put them in a cool, dark closet or pantry for longer life.
How long are seeds good for?
Most seeds will be good for several years, especially if you store them in a cool, dry place (as mentioned above).
If you aren’t sure if your seeds are still good, you can do a viability test on a few to see before you plant them all.
Here is a link to show you how to do the viability test —> How to Test the Viability of Old Seeds @ Get Busy Gardening.
Where can I buy good seeds for my garden?
Here are a list of a few seed companies that I order from. I quoted from each company their mission statement for their business. This is in no way an exhaustive list of seed companies. These companies have free catalogs and good variety with competitive prices. If you are new to seed ordering, I would recommend trying several varieties from each catalog so you can find one company that works for your needs.
“We conserve and promote America’s culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.”
“At Annie’s we are always testing, growing, and trying all the heirloom vegetable varieties we can find to bring you the very best. Chosen for their reliability, ease of growing, delicious flavor and spectacular color, each favorite is the one we pick year after year to grow for our table. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know what to choose, then the Annie’s favorite is a great way to go!”
“Our mission is helping families, friends, and communities to feed one another by providing superior seeds, tools, information, and service.”
“2017 marks our 149th year helping home gardeners grow the best fresh produce and most beautiful flowers, and we are delighted to greet the new season with lower prices, exciting new varieties and garden supplies, and classic favorites that always out perform others in beds, borders and containers!”
“At High Mowing Organic Seeds, we believe in re-imagining what our world can be like. We believe in a deeper understanding of how re-built food systems can support health on all levels – healthy environments, healthy economies, healthy communities and healthy bodies. We believe in a hopeful and inspired view of the future based on better stewardship for our planet. Everyday that we are in business, we are growing; working to provide an essential component in the re-building of our healthy food systems: the seeds.”
Baker Creek produces a beautiful, high quality catalog every year. I love looking thru it each winter. They also have a great website. They have so many amazing and fun varieties of heirloom seeds in their catalog, the possibilities are endless.
What kinds of seeds should you be looking for?
All of these companies offer non-GMO, heirloom, hybrid and organic seeds. What do these labels mean? Let me break it down for you:
Non-GMO: GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) are seeds that have been genetically tampered with or changed in a laboratory. These are unnatural and we can’t be sure what the long term benefits to health will be. It is VERY important that you get Non-GMO seeds for your garden.
Heirloom: These seeds are older varieties that have adapted to weather and other conditions over centuries. these seeds usually do better in certain areas where they have adapted. Also known as heritage seeds, you can save these seeds at harvest time and get the exact same plant the next year.
Hybrid: The crossing of two parent plants of the same kind to produce a desired result. These seeds often produce better in certain conditions. But if you save the seeds for next year, it is unlikely you will get the exact same plant.
Organic: Organic seeds are grown by organic farmers. They have not been exposed to any chemical at any point. They were planted, grown, harvested and packaged using organic methods only. Organic seeds can be either hybrid or heirloom seeds.
That’s alot of information about seeds! Good seeds are the backbone of any prosperous gardener. Don’t go the cheap way!
I hope this post has helped you learn how to buy, organize and care for your seeds all year long. Don’t waste time and money by not taking care of your seeds!
How do you organize your seeds? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful, please share. Thanks!