Year-round Gardening: Organize Your Seeds!

Winter is a down time for gardening here. When frigid temperatures set in for the long haul, there’s really not a lot one can do. Or is there?

Besides reading up on new gardening techniques and ideas, drooling over reading seed and plant catalogs, one could take on the task of organizing their garden seeds.

This is what I found myself doing this winter.

Before starting, it was prudent to put some decent thought into how, exactly, my seeds were going to be organized when this project was complete. You see, this is not the first time I have “organized” my seeds. And, I suspect, it won’t be the last.

Some initial questions would be: How many types of seeds need to be organized? When will you be sowing seed? Do you have seeds that have different sowing times from others? Do you have several varieties of any types of plants? Are you going to be keeping records of all your seeds?

Now, coming from someone who has organized her seeds on more than one occasion, I feel the need to emphasize this: It doesn’t matter so much HOW you do it, as long as it works for you. When I first started gardening, I kept my seeds in a cute tin box with a snowman on it. I thought it was fitting that my seeds were sitting in a winter wonderland scene while they were tucked away for their cold winter slumber.

But, as soon as you get a little bit serious about gardening, you start accumulating seeds. Eventually, you will need to create some order into how you are storing them. Here are some ideas for organizing:

Seed Box: Pretty self explanatory. There are a couple of variations on this type of storage. 1) Throw all your seed packets in a box and store it in a cool, dry place. If you like to grow different varieties of the same veggie/flower, you may opt to bunch them together with larger envelopes, dividers or rubber bands.2) A neat idea for someone with several varieties of veggies or flowers is to use a recipe box or file folder box. Dividers or file folders can be used to separate types of seeds.

Binder: I seem to have accumulated so many tomato and pepper varieties that I was getting frustrated looking through them all when I was trying to find a particular variety. I picked up some plastic card protector sheets, #1 size coin envelopes and binders and got busy. I have started making up little flash cards for each variety for some quick info on each one. Maybe some would think I am taking it too far, but being really visual, I am using different colored paper to give a quick cue as the use type of tomato – cherry, paste, slicer, etc. This is a big plus when doing your garden plan. But it only really works for small seed unless you use wide binders. The same concept could be used with photo albums with plastic pages and envelopes for larger seed like peas, beans, sunflowers, etc.

Drawer System: Okay, if you are a seed-a-holic then perhaps, when you are not busy attending Seeds Anonymous, you can organize your seeds in a drawer system. This would be also be a great storage unit if you save a lot of seed. This is what I have. In my defense, it is a very small drawer set, and I tend to buy “farmer size” seed packages when I can, trade and save a lot of seed, and store a lot of larger veggie seeds, like beans and peas, etc. Really. Okay, you say the next SA meeting is Tuesday?

Okay. So now you have chosen the type of storage vessel you are going to use, HOW exactly do you organize them? Again, what works for you?

Perhaps you just want to separate your veggies from your flowers, then your peas from your carrots, and so on. Or, maybe you need a more complex sorting system. Do you want to sort by planting/seed preparation time? Say, by separating your categories into months of the year. Or by what needs to be started indoors, and what needs to be direct seeded. This organization can be easily combined with the calendar method, as the timing thing seems to automatically work itself into this system of organizing.

At the end of the day, the important thing is that you have fun while gardening. Seeds are amazing little packages of potential – plant with care, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

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