Seed Organizing

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Miracle of miracles! Not only have I managed to begin my seed purchasing and acquiring process on time this year but I also spent a few hours the other night organizing them all. Ironic that the year I manage this feat is in a crazy busy one when I also happen to be unsure about where I will be gardening.

I like to do things ass backwards. That is my way.

I thought I’d give you a peep inside my “highly efficient” Seed Organization System. Mine is a three part system, although technically my fridge’s butter bin acts as a forth part for seeds that require some time in the cold (aka “cold stratification”). And there is also a soon to be gone recycled coffee bean bag that contains all of the extras that I have packaged up for trading and give-aways at this year’s Seedy Saturday Toronto event (Saturday, Feb 28). Over the years I’ve considered fancy binder systems or making a proper bin, but this works for me.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Part 1: The Square Basket – This is where I keep most of my direct sown seeds including lettuce greens, carrots, beans, peas, beets, radish, some herbs, and edible flowers. Also included are tags, permanent markers, empty envelopes for seed collecting and sharing, scotch tape for resealing opened packets, and a small plastic dibbler aka dibber aka dibble for quick sowing. I keep this basket in the hallway next to the door to the roof so it is always on hand when I need to pop a radish seed into an empty spot or replace gummy old lettuce.

Part 2: The Tool Box – I store my early season vegetable seeds in this old, kid’s tin tool box. You’ll find tomato, eggplant, squash, melons, and pepper seeds inside to name a few. It is kept on my garden book shelf just behind my work desk for easy access to indoor sowing or when I need to remember the exact spelling of a particular variety. When I am organized the packets are arranged by plant type and held together with elastic bands. FANCY!

Part 3: Yee Olde Gigantic Jar – This jar contains the plants I don’t go-to as often; less popular flowers, grasses, strange fruit I have purchased or collected (i.e. coffee beans, prickly pear, tamarind), and assorted oddities many of which are past due. I’ve got a little sachet of dried milk in the jar to keep the seeds from going moldy since air flow inside the jar is minimal and I don’t have occasion to check it very often.

How do you keep your seeds in order?



Tons more seed starting resources

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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27 thoughts on “Seed Organizing

  1. Well, I have not gotten that far in my organizing just yet. Right now, my seeds are all in the big padded envelope from Baker’s Seeds. I went to a seed exchange in our neighbourhood a few weeks ago and acquired some more seeds to add to my padded envelop. I had went ahead and inventoried all of them on my computer though (with planting dates, etc). Of course I’m always looking for gardening-related things to do on these cold winter days, so I think my seeds can expect a new more organized home in the near future :)

  2. Last year, my dad, the carpenter, cleaned out his shed and discovered his old tool box he made many moons ago out of plywood and a broom handle as the, well, handle. It’s divided into little compartments that are the perfect size to hold seed packets upright, and since he so very loves me, it is now mine.
    I grouped by type of seed, direct sown on one side, start indoors and rarely used on the other. I keep it on the dining room table at the moment, shows how much I use it for actual dining. But I figure it’s justified since most of the seeds will eventually become food and food belongs on the dining room table.

  3. Neat, I’m in the middle of re-organizing my seeds right now. I used to have them in alphabetical order so that I could find them easily, however, I’m now thinking that having them organized by sowing date would be better. I almost missed starting my hot peppers as I got the sowing date mixed up with my sweet peppers. If I had them organized by start date then the mix up wouldn’t have happened. So far I’ve been able to separate my seeds into direct sow, indoor sow, flowers and indoor plants. Next I have to work on sowing dates for each type.

    My mom used to keep her in jars and a strawberry basket in the hall closet.

  4. I store my seeds in two tin lunchboxes. One features the awesome that is Batman, the 2nd was customized by me (11th grade)to feature Transformers (Hot Rod and Perceptor, 1986 animated movie.)

    I used them as purses in high school. I’m glad I found another life for them, although there’s nothing about their bright boyish designs and colors that make you think about gardening.

  5. I keep mine in a concertina file (the ones with all the pockets that you can label), except that my labels are all really old and can’t be written over. So where it says “elec” and “bank”, I just have to remember that its really beans or herbs!!! :)

  6. I will reuse the packets that come in my supplement bottles intstead of the dry milk in a bag, to keep down the moisture in my little thrifted plastic box that I keep my seeds in.

  7. Man, y’all look so organized. Mine are currently scattered across the kitchen table while I input the details and planting/growing times in my blog so that I can track how well they actually do… but all my seed envelopes currently go in a spare recycled nursery planter in the kitchen. :-P

  8. I am new to this so I have to be super organized to remember everything, so I am currently organizing them in a shoe bow with little cardboard dividers that I have written the planting dates on. Otherwise I’m afraid I’ll forget to start something in time!

  9. I put all my seeds in a tupperware container, marked ‘Garden Seeds’ and throw it in the freezer. In the beginning of the year, they are categorized by what will be planted when and with what, but by summertime, they’re just stuffed in the container.

  10. i have two shoe boxes filled with those small ziploc envelopes you get at craft stores on the bead aisles. One is for my winter garden and contains lettuce, carrots, more exotic onion seeds, celery, herb, and early tomatos. My summer garden box has all my other tomatos, hardier onions, green beans, melons (lots and LOTS of melons of all colors shapes and sizes), hot and sweet peppers, and all sorts of better goodies that I love. My winter shoebox is a little drab in comparison, but it keeps me entertained until the sun comes back. And of course I need those herbs for cook offs during the summer, so it performs a necessary task.

  11. I keep my seeds in an old shoebox. Until just last week they were piled in the box haphazardly, but I sorted them by type and made dividers for them. I also have some outside tags and such in the box.

  12. I just dump all my seed packets in a big zip lock bag. It’s a royal mess to get any seeds out and every year I tell myself I will organize my seeds but instead, I don’t. I may someday, maybe in my blog, start keeping notes on what I have grown in the past and how I felt about that plant.
    By the way, I grew 3 tamarind trees from seeds, amazingly they are still alive in containers. I traded my brother a tamarind tree for an avocado tree. I had forgotten about prickly pears. In my native Sonora, I ate them plenty along with the Sahuaro cactus fruit (pitayas).

  13. Ciao Gayla-

    Every now and then, some kind soul gives me a gift certificate to Lee Valley so I can feed my habit and get the seed binders I think I need. All of my overflow (and there’s a lot of it) goes into cardboard gift boxes, recycled cookie tins with lids, metal lunchboxes, and old floppy disk holders.

  14. Did I miss the post about you not knowing exactly where you will be gardening this next year? I haven’t been keeping up with my blog feeds…

    I try to keep mine organized by planting time. Doesn’t always work out though, when I get over zealous about sticking random seeds in the ground.

  15. Keep mine in a recipee box i bought at the dollar shop, i dont buy more seeds than i need. Buying 66 packs of differant seeds for 12 rows i dont see the logic in that.

  16. Donald: It’s not about logic. It’s about addiction.

    Renee: I mentioned it in passing. We really want to move and are dedicated to making it happen this year.

  17. You and I are in the same boat then! Hard to figure out what to plant when you’re not sure where you’ll be planted. Best of luck with your plans.

  18. I keep mine in a silver sprayed mini treasure chest.
    One side for flowers…one side for veg.
    Index card per month.
    Pens + tags.
    Home grown seeds in small envelopes.
    Itching to get started and have put up small cloches on allotment today. Im quite excited and every year is different.
    Thanx for the peek.

  19. hey gayla i haven’t kept up either. I just recently moved out of my moms leaving our own little community garden behind. my mom is still their to care for it, but since the move I’m having to start al over. I have to test the soil here where I am since I’m in Texas I’m worried I will be starting very late should I wait out this year or rush things through?

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