This year I vowed to sort and organize my seed packets. Being the frugal sort, I actually don’t have a very large collection, but there is enough of those little packets floating around that I definitely needed to explore a sorting system of some kind. I asked a bunch of my friends how they manage their seed collections and we all had a good laugh as we described very similar situations, “tossed in a bucket/box somewhere… it’s a mess!” After receiving a fair number of responses I looked over at my chaos bucket of seeds and decided it was time.
There are lots of different ways to organize your seeds and the system that I created is only one way. Take the aspects you like and find solutions for the parts you aren’t crazy about. I wanted a system that wouldn’t cost me anything and that would use the supplies I had hanging around the house.
Binders, Boxes and Buckets Oh My
The first step will be finding something to house your seeds in. Lots of folks use binders with plastic sleeves and love it. Because I didn’t have those supplies on hand I didn’t go that route, but some of the tips/techniques described today can be modified to work in a binder.
For my little system I used a small blue Rubbermaid bucket/tote that we had lying around. You want to keep your seeds organized and easy to find, but also allow room for growth.
Organizing Your Seeds
First and foremost you will want to find a nice large surface area (ie kitchen floor in my case) to work on and spread out those seed packets. Next you’ll want to organize them in a way that make sense to you. This would also be a good time to write notes on what seeds you need to order for the upcoming growing season.
I created the following categories for my seeds:
- Summer Squash
- Winter Squash
- Culinary Herbs
- Medicinal Herbs
Just a few notes about my categories. As I mentioned earlier I don’t have a lot of seeds but as my collection grows I may decide to condense some of the categories. For example I may just create one large category called “root vegetables” instead of dividing them into beets, carrots, parsnips etc. Kale had it’s own category separate from the other greens (like chard and spinach) because we grow a lot of different varieties of kale.
Because we are fairly new to this homestead and our last space had a very very small yard I don’t have any flower seeds. In the last place I didn’t have a single inch of space to waste so I only grew food and herbs and at our new place we decided to invest in food and herbs first. If you have a lot of flower seeds you’ll want a category or two for those as well.
After organizing my seeds I checked each packet to ensure they had a year/date on them. I like to keep track of when I purchased seeds and not all my packets have dates. Most varieties of seeds will last many years, but some will experience a decreased germination rate as they age. Writing dates on your packages will help you sort and get rid of old seeds that aren’t germinating well anymore.
Organizing Your Tote
Because my tote was wide enough to house two rows of packets I divided along the middle with a piece of cardboard.
Next using the same box I cut up small squares/rectangles to make dividers. I wrote the category name along the time of each divider.
Then it was a simple act of placing my seed packets in the right section. And I was done!
The whole project took under an hour and now I have an organized and tidy tote full of my seeds. My bucket has lots of room for expansion and growth as well.
Organizing your seeds is only half the battle. You will want to store your seeds in a cool, dark and dry place in your house. We store ours in the basement with the lid on our tote. I would recommend against storing them anywhere too warm or an area that is damp or has drastic temperature fluctuations (like a garage).
Since organizing and creating my little system I have realized that I basically recreated the system that the fine folks at Family Food Garden wrote about. So be sure to visit her site and give her some love too. She does a great job at explaining how to organize seeds by plant family. This is something I may start to do when/if my seed collection grows.
Thanks for reading! If you have a great system for organizing your seeds (or any tips or tricks) I’d love to hear about it. Please comment below.