Seed Organization

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Big Sigh. I went through all of my shoe boxes of seeds today. It took most of an afternoon. I organized all of my seeds and put the same Genus packages all together in one baggie.

I have a box for Herbs and Vegetables, Vines, Perennials/Biennials, and Annuals. Now, I am thinking about dividing into Shade and Sun or perhaps, Warm colors and Cool colors. I am also thinking about making a list on a sheet of paper as to what is in each box.

I have a hard time keeping my seeds organized. Maybe others can share how they keep their seeds organized.

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Hi Birder :) This is the way that works best for me. I've been keeping mine this way for 2 yrs now and I love it.................

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I typed a really long post, then uploaded 4 JPGs, went to preview ... and DG jumped to the Home Page and I lost everything!

Then I typed a shorter post, uploaded 4 JOGs, did NOT Preview ... and lost everything.

Here's the short text:

seeds in 2x3 Ziplocks wirth laser-printed labels.
grouped by genus or species into 3.5"x5" glassine envelopes
Plastic screw-lid peanut jars with silica gel dessicant
tubs are like:

Petunia, Poppy, Thyme, Bells of Ireland, Morning Glory
Cosmos, Foxglove, Hollyhock, Iris, Lavender, Lilly, Mint
Other Flowers A-H
Other Flowers I-Z

Tomatoes (fridge)
Bok Choy
Snow Peas
Gai Lan, Komatsuna, Tatsoi
Water Spinach, Oriental Spinach, Broccolo Spigarello, Amaranth, Herbs + Lettuce
Other Crops

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I tried to send 3 JPGs and failed.

Thumbnail by RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

OK, one at a time.

Thumbnail by RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Last one:

Thumbnail by RickCorey_WA
sun city, CA(Zone 9a)

finally got my orgranized. have 6 plastic shoeboxes. individual types of seeds in ziplock baggies, like types in envelope (ex-tomatoes, sweet peas) then in alphabetical order in the shoe boxes. shoe boxes divided into flowers, veggies, herbs. i inherited all my cousins seeds and will never get them all planted, so next step is to list them in my tradelist and then trade or offer for postage.

after doing all this i am still looking at and buying seeds online. i have a problem!


Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Rick, first of all I want to commend for your extreme efforts to share your ideas. It is SO frustrating to write explanations and it disappears. I have had that happen many times.

I was out of the house most of the day yesterday. Today, Saturday, and tomorrow are pretty full. So, perhaps I can read and study the helpful suggestions everyone has taken time to share with me.

My seeds are in all of the shoe boxes in a kitchen corner on the floor.

Thanks to all that have made suggestions.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

From some other forum, that I have now lost:

>> so many flower seeds start with "C",
>> Then you have to decide to use common name or scientific name.
>> Then what do you do with the large envelopes that don't fit,
>> the seeds that you really don't know what they are

Oh, I know those well!

I just accept that my filing system is riddled with "except for ..." and "other" and "etc" and "unknown".

I've started giving away the "unknown" ones first.

The bag for "Annuals that start with M" is really "M other than Marigold or Morning Glory".

Within the "C" gallon-size bag, I have many quart bags and sandwich bags for individual species or genera or common names.

For naming, it is either the first name that I learned, or 'what most people called them" when they donated them. Sometimes one bag will have an index card that says something like "for Butterfly Flower see Asclepias" (or vice-versa). But I have one "Daisy" bag one one "Rudbeckia" bag, and "Black-Eyed Susan" might be mis-filed so there is little consistency.

After the first 6 months of cursing and not being able to find anything, I am starting to remember where things are, through monkee-see-monkey-do, if that isn;t too insulting to monkees.

And it has been a real Godsend, to follow the policy "if you don't know what it is, give it away as an "Extra". Hopefully someone will know it and grow it, and then explain what it is if they donate seeds back.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I have a "few" very small amt. of seeds, well, three exactly that is what I label "Mystery" seed. Those, I usually plant because I am too curious to just ignore what the heck they are. Usually these seeds leak out of my baggies into the bottom of my shoe boxes. So, I have three mystery groups of seed I will be planting-perhaps winter sow.
I believe I will make a list of what is in each shoebox for quick reference and perhaps tape it to the inside of the lid.
I too, have a separate box for poppies as I have sooo much seed. Another for large envelopes of Gomphrena seed. I love the Gomphrena "Strawberry Fields", but stilll haven't figured out how to "clean" the seed well enough so it will germinate. And, I have another for morning glory and moonflower and one for Castor Bean. Anyway, I have a couple of boxes with a lot of the same type of seeds.
Most of my seed would not fit into a nice binder like catz has although, I think it's a wonderful way to control the seeds.
I put four of my Jade Green Bean seeds in a wet paper towel into a closed baggie to see if the seed was viable to grow this year. Two germinated right away (two days) the other two are still in the baggie. This will give me some idea of the percentage of seed that is viable.
I need to do that with some of my other seeds as well.
I believe I will also write on an index card what is in the box (perennial, annual, vine, vegt./herb etc) and tape it to the outside of the box.

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Most of my seeds are commercial so they are organized right now in order of germination. After that they will go back into the "proper way" of putting them into categories such as hardy annual, tender annual, half-hardy annual, hardy perennials, warm season veggies, cool-season veggies....and along those lines. I have to look at them daily and then decide which ones need sowing next.

It gets messed up when I have to take them and put them into "sowing order" so hopefully, most of them will get sowed! That is the only way they will get sowed as when they are in sowing order, I just follow along, accordingly.

I do have some seeds that I have saved from my own flowers...they are NOT labeled! That is NOT WHAT TO DO! I do not know what gets into me when I do that! GRRR!!

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I'm re-reading this post and have had a few chuckles. I feel better when I read one is cursing the seed disorganization and "what NOT to do". I have done both of these! It makes me feel better to read others have the same idiosyncrasies.
I worked on my seeds again yesterday. I have been out of town for a week. My seeds are still in the kitchen corner. (I have a nice husband that doesn't care!!) I labeled each of my boxes as vines, perennials, etc. I still think I will make a list of what is in each box and tape to the inside lid.
I like the idea of having your seeds in order of sowing time. I keep going through my boxes and saying to self: "Oh yes, I need to get that planted!"! Sometimes, I tell myself "What doesn't get planted--just doesn't get planted". I usually have so many plants from WS I don't know what to do with all of them. Then, I go crazy trying to get them all planted. I hate throwing nice plants away and NO one around me wants my extra plants. So, I am telling myself not to worry too much about not getting everything sown. I am also trying to plant more seeds right into the ground vs. winter sowing. I don't have as good of luck sowing seeds in situ. But man, it's hard for me to get all the little seedlings into the ground in the spring; so they will develop a good root system before the heat and humidity set in.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)


Have you made the "sproing" mistake yet? Trying to take a few seeds out of a Ziplock with a plastic measuring spoon, catching it on something, and then doing a mini-catapult that sows seeds uniformly across the carpet?

Or setting favorite or treasured seeds aside in a special place "to be sowed FIRST", and then losing them for 2 years?

>> I still think I will make a list of what is in each box and tape to the inside lid.

That would be smart, but I never get around to it. One dream I have is to make some kind of INDEX, so that I know what is in which tub without opening the tub. But that would take time to maintain, so forget it!

Evelyn, I agree that organizing seeds first one way, and then another way, is the fast track to madness. I wonder which of us is further down that path?

I've been told that I'm so far around the bend, that I probably can't even SEE the bend from where I am.

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

>>Evelyn, I agree that organizing seeds first one way, and then another way, is the fast track to madness. I wonder which of us is further down that path?

>>I've been told that I'm so far around the bend, that I probably can't even SEE the bend from where I am.

I think that the bend is broken....LOL!!!

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I don't think we're in Kansas any more!

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Since I am much older than you, I suppose that I am the one who is "further down that path"...LOL!!

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Oh too, too funny. I am cackling out loud and reading quotes to me daughter!!

Yes, I have done quick acrobatic moves to try to catch seeds. They sometimes end up in the "other" milk jug. So, I don't know which seedlings is which--and of course, you can bet it's the seed that grows like crazy vs. the precious difficult seed you just have a few of that grows from the jug.

Then, there's the time your seed scatters into the kitchen drawer you have open!

And then, there's the trade I made for Lady Slippers seed. When I read the directions as to how difficult these seeds are to germinate, it's like "forget it" for me.

Hey, let's all meet "over the rainbow"!

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

I have a spread sheet with an inventory. I not only use it to know what I have but also when I planted what, when they germinate and other notes about them I think might be important. I keep the actual seeds in zip lock bags that are organized by how they will pack in the plastic boxes I have.

I use plastic water cups to start my seed in. They have a number on them. That number then is listed on the spread sheet. I also have seed counts on many of the seeds. Since I did retail inventory for 16 years it doesn't take me long to count a couple hundred seeds.

Besides saving the spread sheet on my computer I also email myself copies at a yahoo address in several different formats. That way if I have a computer crash I don't end up with a huge quanity of mystery plants.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Oh Doug, so organized. Could you please come to my house for a couple of days??
I have made lists of seeds with a spread sheet. I had so many columns by the time I was finished the print was very small when I printed it. I try to refer to the paper when I am doing seed stuff, but the paper is rather useless because I can't read what I wrote!
I used g-mail to make this spread sheet. Perhaps I should have used a different program--but I'm not sure I even have another program. I can read it easily if I use my computer, but that's a little awkward. Plus, I have to scroll across, and scroll across to read all the columns. I probably made it too detailed.
I tried the numbering method once on WS. The numbers eventually faded out. That was interesting. Now, I label it with part of an index card, cover the card with clear packaging tape, and attach it to the outside of the milk jug. I also add a piece of a venetian blind w. the name of the plant, and date sown to the outside and a smaller piece of venetian blind in the inside of the jug. When I am ready to plant the seedlings, I have a label ready to put in the ground with the seedlings. If everything fades away on the outside, I still have the labeled blind taped to the inside of the jug.
WS works well for some of the seeds that need stratification and also for perennials. I don't do too many annuals. Everything pretty much has to go outside as I am not set up very well for inside sowing. I can do a few seeds inside, but they have to be the "special" ones that just don't work outside--like Heliotrope.
Thanks Doug, for sharing your seed organization method. It sounds like it works really well.

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

I use the OpenOffice suite for my spreadsheet and word processor. You can also use Libreoffice. ( or There is no practical difference between them at this point. The difference has to do with disagreements between Oracle and some of the developers. They are available for most operating systems.

The use of a full fledged spreadsheet program will give you more control. The way I control the column problem is to make a spreadsheet with multiple pages. The one I'm using this year Has a page for the flower seed inventory, a vegetable seed inventory, and a vegetable planting sheet. It will acquire more as the year goes on. On the inventory sheet I have six columns Type of vegetable, variety, quantity, date, sources, and notes.
Here is a section of my pepper inventory

* Purple Beauty 120 2010 Fedco
* Red Marconi 12 2011 IntoAurora
* Sante Fe Grande 28 2011 IntoAurora
Serrano 1/8oz 2011 Heirloom Acres
* Sweet Banana 50 2007 TT

Notice I'm not consistent about my units of quanity. I use whatever is appropriate or what I know. Sooner or later I'll count out the serrano seed but I don't want to take the ten minutes to count out 1100 seeds.

Now the vegetable planting sheet has different information on it.
It still has the first two colmns which I simple cut and paste to a new sheet, but it now has colmns for number planted, number germinated, germ. %, date planted, date germinated and notes, where I put counts by individual day and any other notes I need. Here is a sample

Chinese Giant S 14 0.0% 02/26/12 10
Chocolate Sweet S 15 0.0% 02/26/12 11
College 64L H 9 0.0% 02/26/12 12 Dropped cup recovered 6
Condor's Beak Pepper H 5 4 80.0% 02/26/12 13 4 on 3/3

It loses it format here I also threw in an extra column for hot or sweet.

By making it two separate pages, it all fits on the screen or printed page or two. I don't need to know inventory or source when I'm dealing with germination data. When I wanted it for example to look at whether seed was better from one vendor or another I copied and pasted the columns into a third sheet.

This message was edited Mar 4, 2012 12:19 PM

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Lots of good information. Thanks. I entered all of my perennial seeds on a spreadsheet in g-mail. It was the most user friendly for me. It took me about 5 hours. I printed the list and put it in a sheet protector. Then, it went into my perennial seed box. Now, at least, I know what's in there!

The annuals will take just as long. Then, there's the vines and veggies :( It was pouring down rain all day yesterday; so I had time to work on my seeds. I had hoped I would have it all down before March.

Today is chilly and windy. I did pull some weeds. I also hand washed a bunch of our garden gloves. Talk about a pain.

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