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Is It That Time Already?

January 7th, 2012

For gardeners, this is the season of lists and callow hopefulness; hundreds of thousands of bewitched readers are pouring over their catalogs, making lists for their seed and plant orders, and dreaming their dreams.

-Katherine S. White in Onward & Upward in the Garden

Even though I feel like I haven’t had any time off yet, it’s already time to start thinking about making that seed order and planning the 2012 garden (where does the time go?). Throughout the gardening season my seed stash slowly degrades into a chaos, then in the middle of winter I gather everything around me to organize and sort it back into tidiness. It’s a bit like weeding the garden after being lazy for a few weeks, it’s a very satisfying chore!  Perhaps I subconsciously do it because I enjoy it so much?

All the packets must be sorted back into their respective folders. Any seeds I didn’t like will be put into a pile to be given away to someone who wants to try them. Seeds that are needed will be written on a list and then I’ll sit down with my catalogs to order what I need and a few extra interesting things to try. I probably don’t really “need” to order any seeds. No doubt your seed stash is like mine, much larger than any garden space you’ll ever own!
While you’re sorting through your seeds, keep in mind that seeds to have a shelf life and different seeds will be viable for different lengths of times.  I won’t rewrite the post I already did about The Shelf Life of Seeds, but here’s a handy chart. (click on the image to head over to my Flickr and you can download it to put in your seed box for reference).

A few years ago I developed a really great seed organization system and I must admit it’s been working rather well for me. I’ve been researching new ones though, and will be making an Ethel video soon to demonstrate a few option so you can find one that suites your needs.

Do you “spring clean” your seeds before you make your order? What do you do with old seeds & varieties you weren’t happy with? Do you think this time rolled around faster than usual? 

19 Comments to “Is It That Time Already?”
  1. Aviran Cohen on January 7, 2012 at 6:23 am

    I first of all try to implant the seeds and see if they are still any good.
    In case they are`nt, I still implant them but expect nothing, and just put there the new ones as well.

    Reply to Aviran Cohen's comment

    • Fawn on January 7, 2012 at 8:59 am

      What do you mean by “implant the seeds”? I would hate to waste the little space in my garden on seeds that won’t grow so I would love to know more about this.


      Reply to Fawn's comment

  2. daisy on January 7, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Love that seed storage tin!
    I want to try ordering from Baker Seeds this time. I’ve heard so many good things about their seeds.

    I think it’s a great idea to give away any seeds you won’t be using. Maybe I’ll list mine on our local seed swap group.
    Time flies faster as we age…

    I’m off to read the post on your seed organizer!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  3. Andrea Duke on January 7, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I got mine organized the other night, but haven’t decided what I want to order this year.

    I did finally order some asparagus crowns and strawberry plants, which I am very excited about!

    Reply to Andrea Duke's comment

    • Susy on January 7, 2012 at 9:48 am

      Asparagus & Strawberries – that’s very exciting!!!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. Rhonda on January 7, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Last night I soaked in the tub with a glass of wine and SEED CATALOGS! I asked my husband, “Is this weird?” he said, “Not for you” Ha ha

    Yes, I do spring clean my seeds. I just love going through them all.

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

  5. Jodiana on January 7, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I don’t have many seed packs, only around 20, very easy to keep track of. This season I will be placing orders for a serious garden (most of my gardening consisted of fruit trees and plants that didn’t need to be replanted each year) and having the info you posted and the way you keep track will be a great help in the coming weeks! Thank you for your wonderful posts ALWAYS so full of information.

    Reply to Jodiana's comment

  6. goatpod2 on January 7, 2012 at 11:35 am

    We made a list of different types of veggies and herbs we want to plant this year.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  7. KimH on January 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I dont have enough seeds to really need an organizing system these days.. I have all of mine in a tin in the basement, at least I know where they are.. hahah..

    Reply to KimH's comment

  8. Debbi Dubbs on January 7, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I keep a list of seeds on my computer and every Jan I delete ones I no longer have and add any new ones that I’ve acquired then determine what to order. I probably don’t need to order any seeds either but those catalogs are so tempting and I love trying new things. As for old seeds, I’ll try and germinate some to see if there viable and if they come up I find a place for them in the garden. I love the way you organize yours, I’ve been doing it alphabetically but I think by variety is much more efficient! I’m gonna change mine around.

    Reply to Debbi Dubbs's comment

  9. itchbay on January 7, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I love seeing the seed packets you have there are the same as the ones I have here.

    But, of course, I always need more. Have my catalogs here at hand and already have far too many pages dog-eared.

    Reply to itchbay's comment

  10. Melissa on January 7, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    i sorted all my seeds last week- I actually only need about 6 things. Most of what I’ll be using I’ve got leftovers or I saved seed from last year. However, the “want to try” list is much longer! :)

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  11. Daedre Craig on January 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I keep a spreadsheet of my “seed inventory”. I have so many seed packets in the fridge, that it’s a lot easier to just scroll through them on the computer.

    For some reason I’ve been keeping my own seeds (collected from my own garden) for at least three years. This has actually come in handy though because one year I forgot to save seeds of a particular tomato cultivar. Luckily, I was able to find my seeds from three years prior (and they were still viable) and continue growing that cultivar without having to purchase new seeds.

    In another situation, I somehow had one of my Black Krim tomatoes cross with another tomato (on accident, which is difficult considering tomatoes are usually self-pollinated). Luckily, I had seeds from a previous year, before the cross-pollination happened, so I could continue growing Black Krim without worrying about “odd-balls” showing up in the garden (although sometimes they’re cool too).

    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

  12. mrbrownthumb on January 8, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    I haven’t even looked at the pile of seeds I got because the task of organizing them just seems so daunting.

    Reply to mrbrownthumb's comment

  13. Texan on January 8, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Have been through my existing seeds a dozen times. Have all my new seeds in except the two pumpkins I am going to order from Baker Creek.

    Tomorrow I plant the first of my seedling seeds, tomatoes!

    I am going to try VERY hard to stick to just ordering the two pumpkin seeds I need and stopping there!

    Reply to Texan's comment

    • Susy on January 9, 2012 at 9:05 am

      I’m the same way. – it’s so hard to keep the numbers down when you’re leafing through those glossy catalogs! This year I’m really going to keep things at a minimum so I can use up some of my backlog of seeds.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Victoria on January 8, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    I’ve been pouring through my Fedco & Baker Creek magalogs….after I join a new CSA & do an inventory of my seed box, I’ll decide on what to order. Other than green beans, root veg & peas, I’m not sure I’ll need to order anything this year!

    Reply to Victoria's comment

  15. Wendy Buss on January 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Yes, this time of year came up quickly, I think. I was hoping to pause and catch my breath a bit more before turning to garden planning. I keep an inventory of my seeds in an Excel spreadsheet; about this time of year I go through my seed stash and update my inventory. I really hate to throw any seeds out, so I usually only throw something out, only if it’s past its shelf life. I’m hoping to order no to very few seeds this year, as I have accumulated quite a few; maybe this will be my year to finally resist the allure of the seed catalog!

    Reply to Wendy Buss's comment

    • Susy on January 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm

      I’m feeling the same way, no time to exhale & sit for our winter nap. Maybe I’ll have a few days of that yet, we’ll see!

      Reply to Susy's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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