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How do your organise your seed packets?

 
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Location: West London, UK
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Afternoon all,

I was just wondering how you organise your seed packets to keep track of everything?

I have a lot of seed packets and it seems a little overwhelming!

Many thanks,

Samuel
 
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Location: PDX Zone 8b 1/6th acre
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Ahahahahahahahahaha organize, that's cute. Mine are all in a paper bag. They're labeled in there, but there is no organization other than, 'I know they're in this damn bag somewhere.'

We do have a couple in some tupperware style containers and they are marked as well, but nothing resembling organized.

If you have actual property and space to utilize more seeds than I, I could see how that might become overwhelming.
 
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I organize with pint size labeled glass jars...one for tomato varieties, one for peppers, some big seeded things like pumpkins get a single variety per jar, one for herbs, one for basils.....I think it depends on your collection of seed. I try to keep track of how old everything is and whether we like it or not This year I sorted some out by when I would plant them...a jar for january, one for february, etc...that only worked for the first month and in the end my kitchen table is covered with seeds to plant soon. You will, in the end, find what works for you...it really depends on what you have and how often you will plant it...if you are trying to get ahead on seeds you might want to store in the freezed or refrigerator (if you have those).
I am anxious to see how others do this.
 
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I have 4 boxes that I labeled with the major groups (brassicas, roots, legumes, etc).
In those I keep varieties (cabbage, kale, mustards) in small Ziploc bags. Each Ziploc contains a few small bags of dessicant.
Cover crop and other bulk seed are less organized, but I don't have that many of them to deal with.
 
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Location: SFBay area, California (USDA zone 10a)
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Badly. About as much as I do to organize is a series of ziplock bags by season/year with one of those little silica gel pillows in each. Seed I've saved is separate from seed I've bought.
 
pollinator
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Ok, I am a bit anal about organizing mine. I want to know what I have and where I can find it. I took the time (and yet it took quite a bit of time) to find my stuff on Dave's Garden and list it there, with notes about whether I didn't have enough to trade and needed to grow out for seed first or if it was available and how many trades with how many seeds per trade. Keeps my mind straight and that way I don't make false promises to those contacting me about trading for seeds. I then took a small box and cut cardboard dividers for in it. Since I have transferred my seeds to similar sized packets, they fit reasonably neatly in that box. They are organized in order by the way my Daves Garden list is. It is nice for me, too, because some people refer to things by a common name and some by the latin names and I can go find it on my online list quickly then go right to where I need to be in my actual storage box.

I know, it is a bit time consuming at first, but it now saves me time and frustration for being able to find things. It also makes it tempting for others to want to trade on Dave's Garden and I have significantly increased my seed stock for the cost of postage and ended up with some pretty cool things. I am actually working on a trade right now!
 
steward
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Depends on the seed/seedstock.

Sweet potato is stored in a bucket over cold season, left in a cool spot. A 1 gallon bucket is all I could fill last year, from some volunteer plants. I figured anything that wants to grow here that badly ought to be saved. This year will see several gallons stored.

Red potato goes into the fridge. They will take some punishment in there. The last 4 I took out were fit for the compost heap, but I had nothing to lose in planting them. They are currently in the ground and putting up their first leaves. If the seeds can't take the punsihment, I don't want to grow them.

Garlic comes out of the ground in mid summer, is cured, then goes into the fridge. Come November-December, they come back out to be planted. I did not get a chance to start the last batch so they sat in the fridge for an extra year. This is apparently my method for producing crystallized garlic.

Beans take up considerable space. A packet won't cut it. I've got some wine bottles and canning jars kicking around that will hold a bunch. Add a piece of tape for labelling.

Smaller, lower volume seed gets whatever is handy. I save glass jars when emptied, perhaps relish or roasted peppers. Canning jars come in handy, I've got hundreds of them accumulated over the years. They take up some space, but not so much it is inconvenient. In the past some room in a corner cabinet has served me well. When I go looking for one thing, I'll come across something else that needs planting.

Seeds move through this place in packs . I like to try new things to see how they will do. Once the packet is opened I store the unused portion in ziplock bags. Cool season seed goes in one box, hot season into another.

I've used ziplock bags for saved seed many times, adding a piece of paper to record what, when saved, and information on the history of the strain. I had some peas that made it through several frosts over the years and a long drought. The strain finally succumbed to 2 weeks of hard freeze.

Avacado, plum pits, peach pits go in a shallow box in the corner to be neglected and abused. Some may make it.

When I eat an onion, the root end is placed into a shallow dish with water and stored on the window sill. Many of them will put out roots and send up a shoot at which point they find their way to the garden. Some will grow into bulbs, some will bolt, some will die. Keep the best, to hell with the rest.

Tomato seeds historically sit in a cup getting funky on the window sill for a few days, then get dried on a coffee filter for a few days, later lost, then found, moved, ignored, covered with books, lost again, rediscovered, and finally thrown away in disgust. This storage method has always worked well for me, guaranteeing I have a brand new seed packet when it is time to start them again.

Sometimes I like to store seed in the truck. I buy the seed, put it on the seat with a promise of better days and bountiful crops. Leaving them in the truck for a couple years keeps the dream alive.

I bought a bunch of peanut seeds one year. Kept them in a paper bag near the kitchen door. Over time, as the bag is shuffled and kicked, the peanuts begin to escape in the middle of the night, placing themselves under my barefeet. It becomes clear they want to be planted and this is their method of communication.
 
pollinator
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Jars, boxes, and drawers. Mostly I've sorted by type, but when I get 'er dialed in I'd like to have them organized by planting time and favored conditions. I only really have one drawer and a free floating box at the moment - but I've worked with entire corners dedicated to drawers and cupboards of seed sorted by type (and loosely planting time - ie beets and carrots in the same drawer but not the same box or jar)
 
steward
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I have my seed-saved and commercial- in three groovy 60's plastic breadbins.
1 has big snaplock bags of larger quantity things like cover crops, clover etc
2 has bags of large-seeded things that take up lots of space; so it's basically legume/cucurbit storage
3 has large bags with large, clear, eccentric labelling
I started off being all correct, Latin names, chard with the beets etc,
but it is way more practical for me to label some things by appearance/use, rather than family.
'umbel' is nice and normal-carrots, fennel etc;
'beets' has beetroot, but also non-beets like radishes.
Ages ago I created 'leaves': lettuces, Asian veges, chard and so on.
 
pollinator
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By color.

On the left are the reds, radicchio and korean mustard, and then orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Plants with white flowers are all the way to the right in the ultraviolet region.
 
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Location: Sacramento, CA
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I have mine in a narrow air-tight box, sorta like a filing cabinet. Flowers in the front, veg in the back, sorted alphabetically by the name of the food I get from the plant (ie: "zucchini" and "butternut" rather than "squash"). If I tried to do any sub-categories, I would confuse myself. I separate packets with cardboard every few inches to keep things from falling into each other.
 
pollinator
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i found a cardboard organizing file with an enclosure at a thrift store...something like this but much bigger:



with one file pocket for every letter, so its alphabetical. inside there i put large and small ziplock bags for type, like all the tomatoes are in one ziplock under T as well as tomatillos have another ziplock in the same folder pocket. i have my own file system though...stuff like herbs is under H...and whatever else that i just remember...and put stickers when i put a new type in....

it works pretty well, only i regularly pull stuff out to plant or trade or whatever...and rarely put it back in! so i also have four boxes of seeds, a box of stuff to give away or trade out, and one box that i hope to plant immediately/soon....and some other groups of seeds all over of stuff that should be put back in the main folder/file thingy...
 
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http://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/How-to-Organize-Seed-Packets-photo-album_opt.jpg

loved this idea, but mine are in plastic shoe boxes sorted by where and when to plant.
 
Jen Shrock
pollinator
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Funny thing...my dad came bringing a dresser that he confiscated from somewhere. It is a nice dresser with one drawer in need of repair. The drawers in it, though, are shallow (less than 5" deep). The first thing that I thought of is that it would be a great place to put seeds into jars and then store stuff in the drawers. I am torn, though, because if the one drawer was fixed (which wouldn't be a big deal) it would be a really nice piece. If I use it for seed storage, it would be confined to my basement. I am battling in my mind whether or not to use it for seeds or fix it and bring it up stairs and enjoy it, even if to just set things on top of it. One thing going for leaving it in the basement is that it came from a home where there was a severe smoker and it would need to be de-stinkified if it were to come upstairs.
P4080046.JPG
old dresser
old dresser
 
Mother Tree
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My other half seems to have developed his own computer based seed-organising system.

 
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I try to keep them in canning jars with a few of those little silica moisture absorbing packs that come with shoes and stuff to make sure the air inside stays nice and dry. I think some places sell that stuff like bountiful gardens but you can just recycle it from other things.

 
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There are some great suggestions in this thread, and many organization techniques that I already use or have tried.... Except for one!

I had a seed planting party a few weeks ago, and wanted friend to easily flip through the 2-dozen tomato varieties, and place orders.

I slid seed packets into a small photo album from the thrift store! Each sleeve was see-through, so the front and back were easy to read and no seeds were accidentally spilled. Hooray!

I liked this so much, I'm on the hunt for a few more flip albums, for flowers and salad greens. They're usually 25-50 cents. A bargain!
 
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Honestly, I don't. Should I? Well, mm, I am the guy who found seeds that were from 1996 and 1997 in his house this year, so, yeah, I definitely need to organize them. I rather like the photo album idea.

I should do something about it, huh?

Because the real secret to organization, any organization, is not how you do it, but that you do it.
 
steward
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I am using a bead organizer for seeds that I try to sow regularly, like lettuce, dill, cilantro. I went on and on about it on my blog. The short version is:
  • unlike paper packets, it can get wet and muddy
  • get it at a craft store like Michaels or Joanns
  • the whole lid of each vial pops off so you can dump in a packet of seeds
  • there's also a flip top in the lid to shake out a few seeds at a time.
  • torrence_20140619_0301_500.jpg
    [Thumbnail for torrence_20140619_0301_500.jpg]
     
    Audrey Barton
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    That's clever, Ann!
    I tried using a sewing box (for embroidery floss) with tiny baggies, but it wasn't worth the hassle.

    For now, my photo album organization is functioning.
    I have a photo flip-book for flowers, a 3x5 accordion folder for herbs, and another full of tomato varieties.

    How about a spice rack?
    I have a bunch of empty glass spice jars, some with sprinkle lids that might be good for planting carrots and lettuce. Hmm...
     
    gardener
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    Ken Peavey wrote:
    Tomato seeds historically sit in a cup getting funky on the window sill for a few days, then get dried on a coffee filter for a few days, later lost, then found, moved, ignored, covered with books, lost again, rediscovered, and finally thrown away in disgust.  This storage method has always worked well for me, guaranteeing I have a brand new seed packet when it is time to start them again.



    LOL, I think this scheme is lacking one step that always happens at my house: the plate they have been sitting on for six or eighteen months gets knocked off its stack of whatever and the seeds go flying in all directions...
     
    gardener
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    I very nearly posted yesterday in the "you know you're a permie" thread on just this very topic.... we are drawing near to spring planting and I have so many seeds everywhere. I have a color coded spreadsheet of what i have, whether it is expiring soon, and where it is (fridge, out on porch in a mouseproof tin, or in a plastic tub in my planting area. Sooooooo many seeds, so little time!)
     
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    Plastic file folder box with file folders to separate into loose groups. Been watching for for a long skinny box or drawers not unlike a card catalogue.

    Is there a Dewey Decimal system for seeds?😃
     
    gardener
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    My un-winnowed phacelia seed storage facility.
    phacelia-seed-storage.jpg
    [Thumbnail for phacelia-seed-storage.jpg]
     
    pollinator
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    I started a new topic before I found this thread.  I'm trying to decide whether I need to separate my seeds by year or do I just save year after year in the same jar/bag or whatever.  What are your thoughts?  Do you separate them by year?

    Bonnie
     
    Tereza Okava
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    After it got out of control this year I separate them by "generation".

    1- REALLY OLD, like dubious germination, and maybe kinda sketchy (3+ years), I put outside in a big tin on my porch and those are my priority to use up when I need to fill up a hole in a garden bed, for example.

    2- SPANKY NEW (bought this June) are kept on the door of the fridge. As I need them I can go taking them out and putting them out on the porch.

     
    pollinator
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    I just happened to show how I stored my seed sachets in another thread about saving seeds ...
    https://scontent-amt2-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/116162778_3146193945465230_4886235726339238297_o.jpg?_nc_cat=111&_nc_sid=e007fa&_nc_ohc=9mhpP1gUG5AAX_5N4yo&_nc_ht=scontent-amt2-1.xx&oh=7cde02a4e599101e3c41d82cd5708e38&oe=5F3FDCD8
     
    Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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    Tereza Okava wrote:After it got out of control this year I separate them by "generation".

    1- REALLY OLD, like dubious germination, and maybe kinda sketchy (3+ years), I put outside in a big tin on my porch and those are my priority to use up when I need to fill up a hole in a garden bed, for example.

    2- SPANKY NEW (bought this June) are kept on the door of the fridge. As I need them I can go taking them out and putting them out on the porch.



    I sorted them by the month in which to sow those seeds: February/March (mostly indoors to transplant later), April/May and July-August (for winter harvest)
     
    Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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    Bonnie Kuhlman wrote:I started a new topic before I found this thread.  I'm trying to decide whether I need to separate my seeds by year or do I just save year after year in the same jar/bag or whatever.  What are your thoughts?  Do you separate them by year?

    Bonnie


    For new seeds I make new sachets. I fold my own sachets from a sheet of paper (sometimes white printer paper, sometimes whatever paper I find) . And of course I write on those sachets: name of the plant, date I gathered the seeds and maybe some more data
     
    pollinator
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    I got tired of multiple piles of seeds all over the place...and finding them only long after planting had occurred. Then one day I was in a thrift store and bought a large lot of paper, office binder dividers, etc. In it was a package of plastic pages similar to baseball cards but with four pockets. They sat here for months until I was fooling around with seed packets and I found that most seed packets fit into those slots. Now, I mainly use thrifted binders with those pages to organize them. For seeds I've saved where there are far too many to place in binders...those still occupy a large assortment of containers I also thrifted or were waste products from food packaging. Anyway, it's far better than the chaos I had previously.
     
    steward
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    I open the seed packets, and dump all the varieties of the same species into the same jar. Then I plant from the jar. I store the jars on a shelf.
    seed-stash-sharp_640.jpg
    Seed stash
    Seed stash
     
    Dan Boone
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    Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I open the seed packets, and dump all the varieties of the same species into the same jar. Then I plant from the jar. I store the jars on a shelf.



    I am in awe of the chaotic genius and pure letting-go-of-attachment embodied in this method!  It's utterly consistent with the "landrace everything" approach, so why not start as we propose to continue?  I am coming around to doing this anyway with my saved seed; last summer I had success for the first time with half a dozen different types of cucumbers, so I just threw all the saved seed in the same jar to plant out of this year.  But some data-hoarder inclination has kept me sorting seed packets into a toolbox full of ziplock freezer bags; the info embodied in the printing on the packets "feels" like I should save it while I have those seeds.  Plus I still have that sense of "if I get a tomato plant that really outperforms, I want to know what it was so I can get more of that seed" when in truth I should probably just trust that planting new seed from that plant is actually a better way to the next generation.
     
    Posts: 46
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    I try to sort them by month, it's not satisfactory but better than any other system I've come up with so far.

    I keep most of them in used envelopes (obviously difficult for peas, beans etc, and worse for spuds, garlic etc, sorted into recycled plastic containers by sowing month, and for the busiest months by ascending or descending moon. On the envelopes I write the species and variety and some information about the plant, when to sow, at what temperature and so on. Of course some you can plant in consecutive months and/or in spring and autumn so the envelopes tend to get somewhat disorganised.

    During sowing months I've usually got at least a cardboard box hanging around with "sow now" written on it; in April or September it's usually a large paper bag full. At some point there'll be wine boxes and trays full of a large number of containers with envelopes in them.

    After sowing, it's just (!) a question of being disciplined enough to put them all back into the appropriate next sowing month's box.

    I've also got an old cake tin that doesn't correspond to any month, with odd unsorted envelopes in it. I like the cake tin because it's metal, and thus rodent-proof, unlike the plastic boxes which I must never leave out of their cupboard because rodents will chew on anything that might have tasty seeds inside. And I like the envelopes and the metal because they allow air to pass but not too much, and keep the seeds dark and dry. I love the idea, and the photo, of using glass jars, but that's not compatible with my current space organisation.

    I usually also have envelopes hanging around for seeds I'm collecting at the moment, plus large grocery-type paper bags of seeds to separate from their pods/branches.

    We also do a seed swap once a year (not this year unfortunately) and I then put them into tiny packets, or people make their own tiny packets from seeds people have brought - in every type of container imaginable. What's important then is to try to get as much info onto the packets of seed as possible - especially separating commercial or accidental hybrids from properly grown and harvested seed.
     
    Sonya Noum
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    ps I don't sort them by year - when I dive into this month's seeds to sow I find x packets of tomatoes, potimarrons etc and try to use the oldest first, plus some newer in case the old ones don't germinate.

    Oh, yes, and I now try to write on the packet how many years this species or variety is supposed to be valid. That's also interesting to separate brassica or squash varieties from each other by planting a selection of separate species (or varieties that really do flower at different times) each year.
     
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    ROFL glances at small collection of seed envelopes from the swap, ones found in basement, ones found when I moved furniture,  etc, etc,  sighs turns away from the chaos. Decides to read Tomato Junction.  OH what is this new thread how do you keep track of seeds...

    Upshot made a database (used the directions from here https://www.makeuseof.com/create-new-database-with-libreoffice-base/ ) making a table for each of my main types of seeds i.e. all greens, all lettuce, big tomatoes, dwarf tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, tubers and plants, and so on.    Okay now I can look to see what I have so I won't keep buying the same thing 2 or 3 times a year...  AND since I put in a date sourced column I can see which need to be grown out and which are fine for a few more years.  AND a source column tells me where they came from which is information wanted in the tomato swaps...

    Storage got adapted also.   Veggies and flowers are stored in the plastic photo cases you can find at hobby stores and Walmart.  Each larger case holds 16 smaller boxes and I have 2 one labeled veggies, one labeled flowers (honestly I don't have many flowers so herbs and a few veggies have snuck into this case)   Tomatoes are in shoe boxes, one for each type.  Indet, dwarf and det, cherry, micro dwarf.   Inside each box are white envelope, one per variety, with the name of variety at top right, below it is source and year sourced.   Then to aid in getting my envelopes back in the right box in the left corner I have put C for cherry, D for dwarf and determinate, MD for micro dwarf.   Indeterminate envelopes don't have a letter.  

    Design my garden pull out what I plan to raise that year put in large envelope or small plastic bin with plant list for that year and printed garden design.  Plant and return seed packet to collection or trash empty packet and update database  OR at least that is my plan for this year ....
     
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    Usually in their packages in a brown paper bag or little cardboard box. Said box was in the shed in de garden at first but it got ravaged by mice (yes, I should have seen that coming. Turns out they're not into swiss chard seeds. Everything else they ate). Now, I keep it in the house. Somewhere in January I make a plan and organize them by month and as the season progresses, the packages get mixed up and it's just a big lump of seeds packs. Sometimes I write on the packs the date that I opened them, but I don't often remember.

    I want to make a serious effort to start saving some seeds this year (other than the runner beans I've been saving for years now), so I will need a better system soon...
     
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    I keep them in boxes, sorted by category. If one category only needs a small box, I might stick it inside a bigger box that has room to spare.

    I have one box labelled "Landing Zone" where I put my new purchases. They get sorted into their respective boxes next time I do an inventory.

    (I try to do a seed inventory once a year. It's my "cabin fever" project, for when I'm antsy for spring but it's still winter.)

    Eventually I'd like to get a set of the drawers that libraries used for card catalogs. They're about the right size for seed packets. But that needs to wait until my house is built.

    My seed collection is pretty big. Not big enough to warrant giving it a whole room of its own, but getting close.
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