The vegetable life does not content itself with casting from the flower or the tree a single seed, but it fills the air and earth with a prodigality of seeds, that, if thousands perish, thousands may plant themselves, that hundreds may come up, that tens may live to maturity; that, at least one may replace the parent.Ralph Waldo Emerson
I like the idea of minimalism, but find it hard to put into practice.
I’m the kind of person who has never met a museum that I wouldn’t have felt entirely comfortable moving into. I love the collections, the classifications, the history, the meaning, the smell.
Yet mere collecting seems like something slightly unhinged people do, like filling their homes with unicorn salt and pepper shakers or Demis Roussos tour memorabilia or this guy who has been collecting his own belly button fluff since 1984.
Like the rest of my garden, my seed bank is in need of an update. There’s nothing tidy about it.
As I have mentioned before, I discovered my seed bank in 2012, it is a 72 drawer old library drawer. It is perfect for seeds. Over the years, I have curated over 200 varieties of edible plants. I love it. But I don’t want my seed collection to be a relic. For it to be at its best, it has to be actively used, engaged, updated.
I’ve often wondered how best to classify my seeds.
By season? By biological taxonomy? By my most favourite to least favourite?
I have settled on a system that seems to work best for me. Vegetables, Herbs and Flowers, Grains and Seed Crops, then Fruits and Miscellaneous each in alphabetical order. Most seed distribution companies seem to follow the same classification.
Now, I just need to tidy the whole seed bank up!
I’m going through, drawer by drawer. I have a few “expired” seeds, as you might have in your stash too! Don’t throw them out! Seeds will lose some viability over time, depending on how they are stored and, what variety they are. So instead of getting an 80% strike rate when you sow the fresh seeds, it may dwindle to 50% or so past the use by date.
The oldest seeds to germinate were radiocarbon dated at 31,000 years old (give or take 300 years)! So it’s worth taking a chance on your “out of date” seeds!
I have a stash of small seed envelopes that I buy from Officeworks to keep my seeds. They fit perfectly into my library drawers. I have made some labels for them, so I can neatly keep track of the seeds I sow from my own patch, and the seeds I am given.
As you can see, the seed labels clearly show the plant name, the date the seeds were collected, a use by date, the seed’s source, the season to plant (just circle the season) and finally, any notes you need regarding planting.
If you are already a subscriber (thank you!) check your inbox, I have already sent the template labels to you!
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While my seeds have a tidy space to live, what I lack is a record of everything. I don’t know what I have until I go looking for it.
Sometimes, when I’m out and about, I’ll buy something, only to find a packet (or more) of the same variety already parked in the seed bank, waiting to be planted.
A planting plan involves physically opening and closing almost every drawer, which I don’t mind, but for some reason, it grates a bit on the rest of my family. Open, shut, open…shut. Times fifty!
The labels I have used are a bit faded. I’m freshening them up as I go. The labels are made out of repurposed white vinegar plastic bottles! They are durable and will likely last forever.
So now, as I go through each drawer, labelling and classifying, I am logging the seeds into an inventory app, called Sortly. I have no affiliation with them, but it is useful because I can keep my seed bank in my pocket! Sortly is free up to 100 items in your collection, the paid version starts from US$3.99 a month (paid yearly). No more multiple purchases! And when I’m planning the garden, I can sort by season, variety etc, without rifling through all those little drawers.
You could also use an excel spreadsheet if you want to keep track on your desktop.
And on top of all that, I keep a running wish list of seeds in my Notes
Given the seeds I have, I am hoping that I will have my seedbank sorted by the end of this month! It is on my list of Garden To-do’s in my February Garden Journal!
Oh it feels so good to be organised! Don’t you think?
How do you sort your seeds? I would love to hear from you, please leave a comment below.