Conquering Seed Packet Clutter

I have a confession: I am a messy gardener. I have been gardening for decades and I have been collecting seeds all along my journey. I have attempted to organize before. But invariably, half way through the season my carefully cataloged seed packets are a big honking mess.

The big honking mess.

I have tried different ways to organize my seeds: seed variety, plant family, spring/fall, flowers/herbs/vegetables… Always in separate zip locks and then in a big gallon bag by season. No matter what I do, at the end of the season, I have completely jacked up whatever current “system” I started the previous spring.

I was beginning to wonder if I had some sort of organizing handicap. I can organize my house. I can organize my life. I cannot organize my seeds. At least, not on a permanent basis.

Some of these pictures are very old. I don’t have antique seed but I do have antique photos!

Last year, I put all of my seed start dates in my phone’s calendar. I even put in the reseeding dates and plugged it all in for yearly reminders. My alarm would go off, I’d know it was time to plant something and then the struggle to find everything I needed would begin. So, with my calendar reminders: I have started something that works! Yay!

This year I am trying two new things, to go along with last year’s calendar idea.

One is: I am reorganizing my seeds (AGAIN!) But this time: I’m organizing into start dates to match my phone organization calendar dates. This is what I’m hoping happens: phone calendar reminder goes off, I get my date organized seed out and wander into my garden prepared.

Two: (and this is a big change) I will organize my spring seed storage into an easy to access photo album, with the plastic sleeves full of seed, by date of planting, to match my calendar reminders.

I used cellophane tape to add removable handwritten tags to each sleeve.

For my summer planted seeds (which I have more varieties of and the seeds tend to be physically larger) I’m getting a photo organizer box.

Pretty sure I can’t fit those into an album and have it close.

So! OMG! I may have actually done it! Organized, and hopefully: it stays organized!

Look up seed storage ideas in your search bar. I’m not alone! We are all struggling with this very same issue. Most advice out there was not as good as what I was already doing (where I’d separate plant categories into plastic baggies and then separate those into gallon bags by season) and I’m totally frustrated with that old system!

Yes. This is my spring plant date. I have a super long season here in South Texas. It’s my summers that are hard to grow plants in, 8b/9a.

I know we could all use a little (or a lot) of help keeping our gardens running smoothly. I hope this helps. AND Please, please, please! If you have a better way: let me know in the comments. But I really think I may have cracked this nut!

Super tidy simple spring system. Right in there with my favorite books! So much better!

Some tips after having done this: don’t get a super cheap photo album. The photo sleeves will tear as you pull seeds in and out.

You probably won’t be able to close a small photo album all the way.

Find one with a wide bound area, preferably a three ring folder with sleeve inserts.

4×6 sleeves

Make sure you have 4×6 sleeves and not 8×11 sticky paper with plastic covers. Those won’t work.

Look up your vegetable plant dates from your county extension (type your county’s name and “extension”), find your vegetable start dates and print that out.

From mess to organized! I have my plant dates on the paper in the right side of the photo. Having a printed list was really helpful. I rewrote it before I started, and I was able to group them by date rather than in alphabetical order.

Also unless you are: absolutely 100% sure you won’t ever grow a vegetable, make space for the seed packets. (I’m currently out of Kohlrabi seed and I can’t find my Collards. But, I made space for them when I do get the packets.)

Cut out the extra sleeves to make room for what you put in there (leave a few blank pages when you do this so you can add other seeds if you need to.)

I put cellophane tape on the pages and marked categories with magic marker on the tape. That way if I reorganize I can just remove the tape and change out the label.

Lastly, buy some tabs for paper file folders and mark the dates for planting on them.

Two year update: this is definitely the way to go! I eventually replaced my small photo album with 4×6 photo sleeves that fit into an 8×11 binder.

The sleeves fit perfectly in a 3 ring binder and the seed packets are organized. This system has saved my sanity. Even if I grab seeds and then leave them out (so I can tape them closed for storage), they each have a place to be. Eventually they find their way back to the binder in the correct order and store neatly on a bookshelf. I recommend this seed storage idea whole heartedly. Much, much better than anything else I’ve tried.

So far I’m super happy with this! Good luck and go get your hands dirty!

Goodness gracious! We’re getting the effects of the polar vortex that’s coming through the US. It’s going to be 9 degrees Fahrenheit for the low on Monday. It’s February, almost at our last freeze date down here, and we’re getting a whopper of a freeze! In fact, my winter was so mild that my zone 10 plants (I’m in zone 8 so these usually freeze back and come up from the roots in spring) haven’t even dropped their leaves yet. I went out and cut a bunch of things back and covered them with large planting pots. We’ll see how they do, but the above photo is from my popcorn cassia. It was in the middle of its blooming period, and yes: if you rub the leaves they smell like buttered popcorn. Plus, who could say no to these beautiful blooms? I’m hoping a lot of my plants come back. I had to move about 8 pots inside. This happens down here every 15-20 years or so and wipes out everyone’s citrus. Luckily, it’s been raining so I don’t have to water to protect from the cold. Hopefully my pomegranate and fig make it through this nasty weather. Crossing my fingers!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    That big honking mess is not so bad.
    Most of my seed are in empty medicine canisters. Some are in jars. I have too many of some types to fit into envelopes. Many are big bulky seeds. I am rather organized, but can only do so much with so many big volumes of big seeds.

    1. Seeds are definitely difficult to organize. I have a lot of things that reseed without my help, or I’d have more seed to organize. The big bulky seeds (like peanuts) are still in my old bagging system. But I really enjoy the packet storing system. It’s just so easy to find everything and I don’t have to dig through everything. Thanks for coming by! I always enjoy hearing from you.

  2. So far, I have all my seeds in two of those storage boxes meant for scrapbooking and photo boxes (the boxes within a box thing you can get from craft stores). Holds plenty of packets in each case, and i have labels on the outside of each box to indicate what’s inside. I hope I don’t have to get a third box to store more, but so far it seems to be working with what I’ve got.

    I like that album idea–good for note keeping and the like for easy reference. I haven’t saved my own seeds yet or had to date them (still experimenting, mostly), but hope to have as good a system when I start saving those for next cycle.

    Have fun planting!

    1. I thought about using those. I’m probably going to get a few of those for my larger seeds. But I’m really enjoying the photo sleeves for my narrower seed packets. Thanks for coming by and commenting! I appreciate the visit.

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