How to Organize Your Garden Seeds

Overview

Good hybrid seeds can be expensive. Even some common and less expensive seeds will remain viable for years if they are correctly stored and organized so that you can easily find them at planting time. It is annoying to order new seed, then find you had seed of that variety tucked away somewhere. Office filing systems use hanging file folders, arranged alphabetically. With a little modification, you can use a similar system to keep your seeds organized.

Step 1

To germinate and grow, seeds needs warmth, moisture and light. To store seeds safely, so they will last as long as possible, give them the reverse conditions--cool, dry and dark. "Cool" does not mean they have to be refrigerated. Just keep them in a closed container in an unheated location. The Rubbermaid container, or something similar, is ideal. Freezer bags provide a vital additional layer of protection to keep the seeds dry.

Step 2

Assemble the hanging folder frame. Use pliers to shorten the horizontal bars, using the marked snap-off points, so the frame will fit inside the Rubbermaid® container. Tighten the screw clamps with the screwdriver. Mark the file folder tab inserts with large letters from A to Z. Slide the inserts into the plastic tabs. Place the tabs into the slots along the top of the file folders. Hang the file folders on the frame.

Step 3

Sort your packets of seeds by name from A to Z. Ignore heirloom and hybrid trade names---'Maxibel' beans are beans, 'Brandywine' tomatoes are tomatoes, 'Sugarbaby' watermelons are watermelons, and so on. Place each group of seed packets into a freezer bag, seal it, and drop it into the appropriate hanging file folder.

Step 4

If you have a lot of one type of plant (tomatoes, for example) you can put them all together in one or more plastic bags and mark the bag TOMATOES. This makes them easier to find than if they are mixed in with turnips, tomatillos, tarragon, etc.

Step 5

Into each plastic bag, put about a tablespoon of color-indicator silica gel. These little pellets are deep blue when dry and change to pink as they absorb moisture to bring seeds down to the ideal 3 to 5 percent moisture level.

Step 6

Store your seed box in a cool, dry area, such as an unheated room or closet. Make it a habit to replace seed packets in their freezer bags and put them back into your filing system.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubbermaid Roughneck container (14-gallon, 24x16x12½ inches)
  • Adjustable hanging folder frame, letter size
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Box of 25 hanging file folders, letter size, 1-inch box-bottom style
  • Box of plastic freezer bags, 1-quart size
  • Box of plastic freezer bags, 1-gallon size
  • Sharpie permanent marker
  • 1 lb. color-indicator silica gel

Who Can Help

  • Southern Exposure Seed Exchange: Silica Gel
Keywords: seed storage, seed saving, seed organizing

About this Author

Peter Garnham has been a garden writer since 1989. Garnham is a Master Gardener and a Contributing Editor for "Horticulture" magazine. He speaks at conferences on vegetable, herb, and fruit growing, soil science, grafting, propagation, seeds, and composting. Garnham runs a 42-acre community farm on Long Island, NY.