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Organizing the Seed Stash

February 26th, 2010

I finally settled on a method to organize the seed stash I’ve acquired over the past couple years. There were tons of great suggestions when I posted about it earlier this week. I found this nice metal box in the attic and a few empty folders in the office. After spending the afternoon cutting and labeling I’m just about done taming all the little envelopes of seeds.

I cut each folder in half and then trimmed to fit my box. This made them the perfect size for the small metal box. I organized the seed by type and planting season. So I have early spring greens, summer greens, and fall greens, etc. I printed out a list for the front of each file listing the contents and where they were acquired. I’ll be able to see at a glance what’s inside each folder. I also left space for noting date of sowing and extra info.

This should help greatly in my efforts to find specific seeds when I need them. No more sorting through the entire box of seeds to find the one pack I need that always seemed to be at the bottom. Finishing this task also made my seed ordering much easier and saved me from accidentally ordering some seeds I already had, but had forgotten about. Now that I’ve got the seeds under control, I need to think about starting a journal to keep track of the specific things I grow so I know what works well in my area/garden.

Do you keep a journal of the things you grow for future reference?

28 Comments to “Organizing the Seed Stash”
  1. susie on February 26, 2010 at 9:09 am

    i certainly do keep a journal! right now it only has one season’s worth of garden mishaps to offer me but it is invaluable nonetheless. it’s also amusing to get a sense of how excited i was at the time of planting this & that. lots of !!! but of course, very helpful in helping me to learn from my mistakes.

    i’m inspired by your seed organizing. i don’t have nearly as many seeds but hope to grow my collection.

    generally speaking, how long can one keep seeds? do they keep well in the (opened) packets that they come in? i never plant all the seeds that come in one pack.
    .-= susie´s last blog ..dispatches from the concrete patch =-.

    Reply to susie's comment

    • Susy on February 26, 2010 at 12:30 pm

      Different types of seeds have different shelf lives. Beans/peas/onions are the shortest lasting not much more than a year. Tomato seed are viable for quite a few years.

      Storage affects the lifetime of seeds as well. Keeping them away from moisture and away from a lot of heat. Using some of those little silica packets that comes in shoes, etc in your seed box is a good idea. Some people store their seeds in the fridge or the freezer.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. kitsapFG on February 26, 2010 at 9:19 am

    I have always kept a seed inventory sheet and a garden journal, garden calender, and a garden photo journal. About a year a half ago, I combined all those things into my website and blog. I keep all of it there – and share it with those that are interested.enough to visit the site.

    Your seed organization looks very attractive. I have found that baggies of like items work best for me then stored in a sealable container. I rifle though them too often to do much more organizing than that. Each winter, I do sit down and go through all of them – removing the very old, mostly gone, or “yuck why would I grow this again?” items. I then update my inventory list and spring board off of that to do my annual seed purchasing.

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  3. Michelle on February 26, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I love what you came up with for your seed storage! Not only is it useful…it’s nice to look at!

    I am slowly getting into gardening…learning a bit more each season.So I haven’t been keeping a record. But I think this year I will start one as I am going to be using more heirloom seeds and want to keep record of what works and what doesn’t.
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..10 things… =-.

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  4. Pampered Mom on February 26, 2010 at 11:27 am

    What a fantastic idea! Up until recently I haven’t had enough seeds to require a specific system – although, I have lost a few packets of seeds along the way. Hmmm…maybe I do need a system after all!
    .-= Pampered Mom´s last blog ..Folk Music Friday – "Little Liza Jane" =-.

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  5. Andres on February 26, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    I have been using myfolia.com for keeping a journal of my seed stash and what I plant and harvest. The site works well, and keeps on improving.
    .-= Andres´s last blog ..Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally =-.

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  6. lo on February 26, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    What a great idea! I love it.
    We keep a journal each year where we map out where we’ve planted each variety of vegetable (so that I can practice good crop rotation), as well as how much we spent on seeds/plants/dirt, what we amended the soil with, and little notes about what we liked and disliked. Comes in handy when we’re planning in the spring — not only to figure out what we should do differently, but also so that we budget appropriately.
    .-= lo´s last blog ..Exciting News for the Burp! Blog =-.

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  7. Kelly on February 26, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    I do, else I’ll never remember anything next year besides whether we had a good season/crop or not. I have a terrible memory. I record what I’m planting and when. I keep a diagram of where everything is going in the garden as well as a diagram of where everything is in the seed trays (as well as the little plastic markers). I keep track of little tidbits I pick up like companion planting or plant preferences. It’s not terribly organized, but it’s all in one book.
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Bread =-.

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  8. Paula on February 26, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I have a tacklebox that I use for my seeds. My garden is about 10 miles from where I live (I share with my boyfriend’s mom).

    http://sustainableinhouston.com/wordpress/?p=190

    Reply to Paula's comment

    • Susy on February 26, 2010 at 4:36 pm

      That’s a great idea! I share part of my mom’s garden as well (it’s about 50 miles away). I grow some full-sun things there.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. Sylvie on February 26, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    My blog helps to be my journal, and I take lots and lots of pictures – a visual record of sorts.

    PS: I settled on using those same metal boxes, and I always look for them in junk shops and yard sale. You got me beat with your neat folders though. I use several boxes and organized the seeds by planting time & cultural requirements.
    .-= Sylvie´s last blog ..A Gross Of Tomatoes =-.

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  10. leslie on February 26, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    How wonderful that you can find beautiful things in your attic! I love that box. This is my first year with a large edible garden. I am keeping a blog, which I think will act as a journal. And I will definitely keep track of what seems to work. After re-reading my catalogs, I doubt a few of my choices already. However, my fingers are crossed.
    .-= leslie´s last blog ..More work arrives tomorrow =-.

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  11. Jennifer on February 26, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    As usual you are amazingly organized! I set my edibles up in alphabetical order this year and keep a coordinating journal for planting dates. Once I realized I was starting over 100 varieties of different plants I had to admit to myself that I needed a better way to organize my packets. Great job!
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..A Mother’s Instinct =-.

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  12. Jorene on February 26, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    You box is lovely, and it appears that it will work quite well for you. I need to get DH to make me one of these. He keeps most of our extra seeds in envelopes in a leftover plastic Maxwell House tub, but it’s hard to locate what you need quickly and easily. Thx for the post.

    Reply to Jorene's comment

  13. Jaspenelle on February 26, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    I love how you organized your seeds, Since your post I have been thinking about starting to keep better track of mine, might have to borrow your idea!

    I have a garden journal, two actually (2009s and one I recently started for this year.) I keep temperatures, seeds, schedules, general garden updates, to-do lists, ideas, notes from blogs (quite a few from here!) cost breakdowns… everything. I also have a document on my computer with the more important highlights of my journal too, (seed starting schedules for example.)
    .-= Jaspenelle´s last blog ..Feline Friday: Aos & Swish =-.

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  14. MAYBELLINE on February 27, 2010 at 12:29 am

    My garden blog is my reference. I’ve tried writing things down; but it’s just not in me. I have far more success taking pictures and blogging.

    Your seed organization is something to envy.

    My seeds arrived today; so I’ll get started tomorrow.
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Lilacs! =-.

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  15. stefaneener on February 27, 2010 at 1:48 am

    Nice system. Now, I do something like that but not with the variety of seeds written. And my box has a lot more smudgy mud on it, too.
    .-= stefaneener´s last blog ..Handsful of help =-.

    Reply to stefaneener's comment

  16. sweetlife on February 27, 2010 at 2:29 am

    Great idea for storage!!
    I try to be organized but wow does it ever fail!!

    sweetlife
    .-= sweetlife´s last blog ..She’s Killing Me!! =-.

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  17. Lindsey S on February 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    wow, it looks great!
    .-= Lindsey S´s last blog ..Choose Your Scent Muscle Relief Bag- Orange Geometric =-.

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  18. [...] Susy at Chiot’s run has developed a fab way of organising her seeds. [...]

    Reply to Image of the week and the wrap-up – Fennel and Fern's comment

  19. Sue: Farm-Woman-In-Training on February 28, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    We started a log in 1996 in an Excel spreadsheet, of all things. At the time Himself and I were both off-the-farm shiftworkers and we needed a place to communicate who did what when we were on back-to-back shifts when we were starting the orchard.

    Kidlet was little still then too so there a little notes about her growing years that would not have been captured anywhere else.

    The great thing about the computer is that it’s forever expandable so the years we hired weeders is captured but now that they’re no longer needed those columns get shifted to the far right.

    Which also gives an overview of what was most important year to year, childcare, weeders, pickers, and just because we’re naturally a bit anal AND work in the aviation industry, the weather has been captured as well as bud break times, bloom times etc.

    There’s quite a bit of humour and hard-learned lessons in there as well. I grew up in the city and spent the first 14 years of my adult life living in the Arctic so dutifully recorded is my first sighting of the “oh so pretty bluejays” who are now referred to as “those darned bully bluejays”. Dutifully recorded is also the year I used wheat straw bale sheets as a garden row separator that had a better wheat crop than Himself did in the fields!

    I’ve tried all kinds of other record keeping methods, binders, journals, blogs and websites but we keep falling back to that old Excel spreadsheet.

    We thought we lost it in 2008 but I found a copy stashed in a different folder so we only lost a 3-month section of data. It’s become so precious that it’s one of the few things that I now back up properly and regularily. I don’t ever want to lose it.

    Reply to Sue: Farm-Woman-In-Training's comment

    • Susy on February 28, 2010 at 6:06 pm

      It’s so nice to find something that works for you. I use this blog as a reference for my gardening. I might start a journal of sorts – we’ll see. The nice thing about computerized records is that they’re searchable!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  20. Katherine on March 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    What a great idea! and it looks nice, too— my mother would love you! ;) I have some boxes just like that, and a very messy cardboard box full of all my seeds, desperately in need of organizing. I think I smell a weekend project coming up…

    Reply to Katherine's comment

  21. [...] Susy at Chiot’s run has developed a fab way of organising her seeds. [...]

    Reply to Image of the week and the wrap-up – Fennel and Fern's comment

  22. Winter Gardening | Chiot's Run on June 28, 2010 at 4:47 am

    [...] Eliot grows for overwintering. I have all my fall planted crops organized in folders by type in my Seed Stash, so they’re super easy to find. I’ll be starting: ‘Long Island Improved’ brussels sprouts, [...]

    Reply to Winter Gardening | Chiot’s Run's comment

  23. Seed Starting 101: My Workflow | Chiot's Run on January 27, 2011 at 9:21 am

    [...] tomato seeds, they’re all in one folder. For more info on my seed storage/organization system see this post. Let’s say I decided to start onions first. I fill 2-3 seed flats with 2 inch cells full of my [...]

    Reply to Seed Starting 101: My Workflow | Chiot’s Run's comment

  24. daisy on January 7, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Great system! Love how you used what you already had!
    daisy´s last post ..Book Giveaway

    Reply to daisy's comment

  25. mandie on January 8, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Fortunately for me, my family (both sides, forever) were farmers, and at least my mother’s side were packrats….a few years back we found all the farm records! Truly a treasure. Since then, my mom has tried to keep a “farm journal,” and I keep one of my “simple living adventures” which includes all my garden messes and successes, cooking adventures, weather phenomenons, etc. I also made a photo doc of my garden this year on Facebook. I don’t have any seeds to organize (yet) but I will totally use your method, it’s fantastic! I’m so glad I’ve discovered your blog. Thanks Susy!

    Reply to mandie's comment

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