If you prefer to grow much of your garden from seed, the process of starting it can be a chaotic mess that will plague you from February till the growing season finally comes to an end in autumn. You’ll have two months off and then before you know it, you’ll be starting the process all over again.
Or, you can get organized.
Signs that you might need to include:
- Seed packets lying all over the house, garage and potting shed, in various stages of being acquired (still in bags), read (on your nightstand), sorted (on the dining room table) and opened (by your toddler).
- A nagging feeling that there’s something you need to do with those numerous packets and a general knowledge that you’re probably behind and you don’t know how badly.
One warm sunny day you’ll wake up and realize that you’re not only behind, you are WAY behind, and all those seedlings you’ve been ignoring from the local garden center “because you were going to start seeds,” are gone and your only hope for fresh local veg is by begging for a share in a local CSA.
Organize now, benefit later
Getting these packets integrated into a workable system helps you to plant what you want, when you want, stops you having to think about the timing all the time, and best of all removes the guilt that hovers over us this time of year.
There is of course more than one way to skin a cat, or in this case, plant a pea, but the following method for getting your seed packets organized, and more importantly, keeping them organized, has really worked well for me over the years.
My aim is to do almost all the thinking at one time and then allow myself to go on autopilot for the season – grabbing the seeds I need on the date I need them and planting them the way I’ve already told myself I should.
Gather up your seeds
First, you’ll need a container to hold and organize your existing seed collection. As my collection has grown over the years, I have moved up from an old Tupperware ice cream container to a wooden desk letter box. I use strips of cardboard to separate the rows with cardboard ‘spacers’ in between them.
Create some 3 x 6 dividing cards out of an old manila folder (so they stand up above the seeds) and on their short edge, categorize them with a sharpie marker. Categories can be as simple as Vegetables, Flowers and Herbs, but if you have a large collection you might want to be more specific: Tomatoes, Greens, Perennials, Annuals etc…
Now, file your seeds appropriately and keep your ‘seed bank’ somewhere you can access it the minute new seeds come in the door. Mine is under a chair in the front hall. Later, it will be stored (wrapped in a garbage bag) in a cool basement.