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Organized Seed Saving and Ordering

Now is a good time to go through and organize any of last year’s, or any remaining seed, that you have been saving.

  • It will help with your seed ordering and buying.
  • It will help you be able to organize new seeds that arrive.
  • It will help you be more efficient when it is time to start planting.

All it takes is the right size shoe box or similarly sized plastic bin, and a few index cards, preferably a bright color that will stand out among the seed packets. I used pink. Write a letter of the alphabet on an upper, easy to see part of each index card, keeping in mind that they will probably work best if they sit on a short end, to make them stick up higher. You might not have seeds that start with every letter, like ‘X’. You’ll have to decide if you want to put something like zucchini in the ‘Z’ section or with all of the other summer squash under ‘S’. If you have a lot of varieties of a particular type of seed, like I do of lettuce or peppers, use a separate index card as a sub-category for marking that section.

Now, start putting the seed packets between the index cards according to vegetable type. I sometimes keep empty seed packets because they help remind me of varieties that I want to order. I have separate sections for flowers and vegetables. I tried keeping herbs separate for a while, but they ended up with the vegetables in the end.

At some point, you may want to go back through the packets and highlight specifically useful information, like what year the seeds are from. I also have some hand written notes on a few packets from when I did some simple germination testing last winter. Most of those results are good enough to guide me this year. I plan to test seed from a few more packets this year.

Simple organizing for saving seeds and keeping track of ordering new garden seeds.

Simple organizing for saving seeds and keeping track of ordering new garden seeds.

Seed ordering should be less frustrating now, because as you think about a type of seed and want to check on what you already have, you can do it in a matter of seconds. Maybe you are working from a master list of what you want to remember to plant every year. Or maybe you are just browsing through your catalogs. Either way, you can check your seed count and age before making a decision.

I have been re-evaluating my strong desire to just order a bunch of new seeds. I have decided it is partly just because it feels like gardening, partly because I just love trying new seeds, and a lot because I feel a strong need to have a whole row of a particular vegetable. However, I don’t want to waste what I have, so I was thinking of how to work with all these things.

First of all, I found that really getting detailed about organizing the seeds felt like gardening to some extent. I even took all the packets out and vacuumed the box (which is currently a lovely wood tray that a friend made me). I taped a packet whose glue had not held, and I made sure they were all right side up. Not a trivial matter. I also now have the main seed box/tray inside a larger covered basket that allows me to stack some jars of seed that I have grown right there as well. I’m sure any bin with handles and a lid would work. The larger basket makes the whole assortment more portable when I need to look in it for the ordering process, or I want to have it handy for a concentrated time of planting.

Secondly, I discovered that by using some of the older seed, it left more room in the budget to try some fun flower seeds that I haven’t planted before. I’m still thinking about my overall goals for realistic garden upkeep, but the flowers are part of this.

As far as needing a “whole row” of things, I have convinced myself that I can do this with different varieties of vegetable as long as I am not saving those particular seeds. For instance, carrots. For some reason, a couple of the seed companies keep sending me free packets of carrots AND I have some left over. I will just mark my sections and grow a bunch (haha) of different types of carrots in the same row. Maybe I’ll even plant a few flowers here and there in between to add to the visual feast.

Doing all of this cleared my gardening mind. I was able to make fill in my ordering charts and I’m ready to do the actual ordering now. The 2014 gardening year has officially started.


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