(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on December 30, 2007. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)
In the midst of the seed mess, I realized it was time to find a system. Well, two systems, really. You see I have my own “stash” in one area, and then collected seed for trading/teaching (I teach seed sowing). I found there was a need to organize and then “micro” organize the seeds.
I store my own seed in a plastic drawer unit from the discount store. This in turn gets tucked into a pantry unit when not needed. Seeds I trade or use in bulk for classes get stored in photo boxes. These are easy to pull out when I need them. However, lots goes into their organization before they even get stored away. Harvested seed is immediately put into brown paper lunch sacks and attached to a hanging bar system way overhead to dry. Since my office is in the midst of renovation, I don’t have a photo of this. Basically, I have always had a curtain rod suspended from a ceiling upside down. I thread curtain rings with clips on this, and just clip the bags on it. This works great if you are cramped for space or have seed loving pets. Once dry, the seeds get processed and placed into pill bottles and labeled. I find this saves me on the little plastic zip lock bags – I only fill as many baggies is needed. I find this saves me on the little plastic zip lock bags – I only fill as many baggies is needed. Seed for trade or for my own keeping then get sealed into little jewelry bags I find at the discount store in the craft section (or order in bulk, if needed). To label the seeds quickly, I use address labels. However, since I insert photos, I need to make each label separately which takes some time – I just catalog these on computer disc for future printing out when needed. Each type of seed in a small bag then gets placed in a zipper sandwich bag. Trade seeds go in the box, and each type of seed has a divider so I can find them easily.
The dividers are labeled with either botanical or common names - the names which come fastest to my recollection and are placed in alphabetical order. Seed I keep for myself, or purchased seed also goes into a larger zipper bag and I put a labeled cue card in with them for identification and any notes I need (want lists of that seed, special directions). I sort these bags into the drawer unit by type: vegetables and herbs in one, annual and perennial flowers in another. Then I alphabetize them. The top drawer I reserve for things like mailing envelopes, stamps, the labels and empty bags or pill bottles.
Every planting season things get jumbled, I leave a plastic basket near the seeds so I can toss the “jumble” in there, and sort them when I get the urge. It keeps all the boxes and drawers neat and sorting takes so little time. Nothing ever gets stored in the fridge, my new seed storage area has been specially constructed to have a dark cabinet and to maintain a very steady temperature and humidity so I don’t feel that I need cold storage.
Seed saving is so much more fun, and trading goes much more smoothly when you keep things well organized and in place!
A special thank-you to Carrie Lamont