Reorganizing My Seed Collection

My name is Emilie, and I’m a seed hoarder.

Okay, maybe it’s not quite as bad as that (though my husband [the record-hoarder] would probably disagree)…I do go through my seeds about once a year and purge the ones that are too old and have poor germination rates, but still, my seed collection has been getting a little out of control!  I used to primarily purchase already-started veggie seedlings – they’re so quick and easy to pop in the ground, and require much less planning than starting from seed – but over the years I’ve begun growing more and more of my veggies from seed.  There are just so many more varieties available in seed form than there are in seedling form, and the price difference is substantial: a 6-pack of seedlings costs between $1.99 and $3.99, and for the same price I can get a seed packet that contains many times the quantity of potential plants.

The problem, of course, is that I love experimenting with different varieties (and the seed porn catalogs that come out this time of year make everything look so alluring!), and so I’ve ended up with dozens and dozens of seed packets.  And the more packets I get, the less organized they get, and it becomes more and more difficult to find the seeds I’m looking for and to know what varieties I’m getting low on and need to re-purchase.

For the last few years, I’ve stored my seeds in a 6-bottle wooden wine case, grouped by type (tomatoes with tomatoes, squash with squash, etc.) and by season (warm-season  seeds kept separate from cool-season seeds).

Before: My collection of seed packets, all a-jumble in an old wine box.

Before: My collection of seed packets, all a-jumble in an old wine box.

This approach worked well for awhile, but the wine box was getting pretty full and difficult to keep organized, so I needed a new approach.  I discovered that standard-sized seed packets fit quite perfectly into 4″x6″ photo sleeves, so I ordered a box of 100 sleeves (each of which fits three photos/seed packets) and emptied out some old two-inch binders that I had from when I was teaching chemistry.  It took quite some time, but I reorganized my seed packets, stuffed them into the photo sleeves, and inserted each photo sleeve into a binder.  I ended up with four (rather stuffed) two-inch binders, total:

Yes, I have a binder dedicated solely to bean seeds.  They're one of my favorite things to grow, and those things are bulky!

Yes, I have a binder dedicated solely to bean seeds. They’re one of my favorite things to grow, and those things are bulky!

I anticipate that this will make my seed buying and seed starting much more streamlined: it will be easier to determine what I have in stock, since I devised a system to indicate which seeds I’m getting low on or am out of: I just reverse the packet so its back faces forward.  Then at seed-purchasing time, I can simply flip through my binders and take note of which packets are facing in reverse.

Seed packets, nicely arranged in plastic sleeves meant for 4x6 photos.  The packet on the bottom right is flipped to indicate that it is empty (or nearly so), and that I want to reorder it.

Seed packets, nicely arranged in plastic sleeves meant for 4×6 photos. The packet on the bottom right is flipped to indicate that it is empty (or nearly so), and that I want to reorder it.

And because this system is so organized, it will be easy to just carry an entire binder out to the greenhouse for seed-starting, so I won’t have to fish out the seeds that I need (and consequently end up with a pile of seed packets that may or may not get put back into their proper places).

I’m sure that there are probably some minor tweaks I’ll end up doing (I’ve already wondered: what about warm-season flowers/herbs vs. cool-season flowers/herbs?), but already I can see this being a huge help in the coming few months, the busy season for ordering and starting seeds for the next growing season.

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4 Responses to Reorganizing My Seed Collection

  1. Miriam Anderson says:

    Brilliant!

  2. Sarah says:

    Wow, we really need to do this. Our current seed organization system looks exactly like your old one.

  3. Lynne says:

    Thanks, I am going to organize my seeds this way!

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