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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
These are my current seed organization folders. I really, really like this system. I started small and each year I’ve liked it so much I’ve expanded the system. I am a rare seed collector as well as someone who regularly buys the best seed for my area. Sometimes the best seed for my conditions are hybridized. You can’t reliably save those, so I have to buy them as I need more. This system has made my huge seed collection workable. I really recommend this type of organization.
By the way, I have priced seed across the internet. There’s plenty of places to get unusual seed, but cheap reliable seeds are sometimes hard to find. I really recommend Morgan County seeds (these are the white packets with black text in the above photo.) They have big packets and they are very reliable. He has heirlooms on there as well as hybridized seed and treated seed. You won’t find unlimited choices, but you will find reliable and affordable selections. This company fills the packets with a good amount of seed and you can also order larger volumes depending on what you are interested in doing. I’ve ordered from Morgan County seeds for a decade or so and I’m always happy with my purchases.
So far I’m super happy with this! Good luck and go get your hands dirty!
It’s February, almost at our last freeze date down here, 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?