If you’re like me, you love seeds. There is something hopeful and uplifting in the promise contained in each seed. An ancient proverb reminds us that “All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.” I am so enthralled with seeds that I tend to collect a lot of them. My seed collection has grown over the years as I have expanded my gardens and have become more passionate about growing. Flowers, herbs, vegetables, annuals, perennials, I love them all!
When I long for my plants’ companionship during winter, the warm sunshine on my back, and the soil in my fingers, is when I tend to collect the most seeds. When the seed catalogs start filling the mailbox during this time, I know I’m in trouble. The problem arises when I go to store all of those packets until planting time. Those cute little decorative seed storage boxes worked for about one season, but my collection quickly outgrew their storage capacity. I then resorted to shoeboxes which gave me more space but were difficult to organize. My packets ultimately became a jumbled mess, despite my best efforts, as they piled on top of one another. When my collection spread to a second shoebox, I knew I needed to find a better solution, but what?
Then, about a week ago, I got a tip that would change how I organized my seed collection forever. Several gardeners suggested using a photo or craft storage box for seeds! I knew this would be a game-changer and ordered one on the spot. I was excited at the possibilities this type of storage solution would offer. The clear case would allow seeds to be visible, and the individual storage boxes would allow for the collection’s separation and organization. Plus, most importantly, it was big enough to store my entire collection in one place.
When my case arrived, I could hardly wait to get organizing. The one I purchased has 16 individual 4X6 inch boxes, so my first task was to create categories to separate my seeds. At first, I wasn’t sure how I should categorize them. Based on variety type, planting time, or garden bed? In the end, I decided to use a combination of all these ideas.
The first category I created was for seeds that needed starting indoors. By keeping these seeds together, I hoped there would be a better chance that they would all get started on time. I then created boxes based on when seeds needed to be direct sown: early, mid, or late in the season. Examples of early varieties include beets, lettuce, and peas, mid includes squash and beans and late includes seeds such as carrots and winter lettuce varieties for Fall sowing.
Flower seeds have their own categories based on the variety. Zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers, and nasturtiums have individual boxes to store the many packets I have of these types. An “Assorted Flower” box held any leftover flower seeds. Herbs also got a separate storage box. The last two categories I created were “Seeds to Donate” and “Saved Seed.” Each year, I collect extra seed packets to donate to seed libraries, food pantry gardens, and other gardeners; it was nice to have a separate storage box for these. The “Saved Seed” box would be for any seeds I save from my garden and any leftover, unused seeds at the end of the season.
After organizing my collection, I was thrilled with the results. I finally was able to recycle those shoeboxes and create a system that worked for me. I couldn’t wait to share this idea with all of you, just in case you, too, were looking for a better seed storage solution. Whatever method you use to store and organize your collection is terrific, as long as it works for you. I wish you happy organizing and happy planting, and remember, as philosopher and author Matshona Dhliwayo tells us, “When life hands you dirt, plant seeds.”