Time for all those empty envelopes and really outdated seeds to go!
Realization of the Day:
Gosh that felt good.
I actually took this photo back in January of 2007, but looking at it three years later still evokes a warm and fuzzy feeling of accomplishment. What a mess my seeds were! I'd been hoarding dozens of empty paper packets with the misguided idea that somedoay I would reuse them.
I'd also been letting my stash of really outdated seeds just keep accumulating, telling myself each year that you never know, they might actually still be good—and what gardener can simply toss out good seeds? But did I ever bother to do some simple testing for germination? Of course not—all the fresh new seeds had always just arrived!
Anyway, in a rare fit of mid-winter organization and decluttering three years ago, I spent a couple of hours sorting through my entire garden seed collection—and got rid of nearly all of it, including everything you see in the photo above (except the cute little storage containers). It really did feel great.
Of course I still couldn't stand the thought of dozens of packets of seeds going to waste, so I stuffed them into a brown paper bag, wrote 'FREE GARDEN SEEDS' on the outside in big letters, and casually dropped it next to the magazine free pile in the entryway of the library the next time I stopped by to return some books. When I walked back through five minutes later, the bag was already gone. It was the highlight of my month.
According to Martha's Calendar in the front of the January issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine (which can sometimes be helpful but usually makes me feel like an underachieving slug), somebody in Marthaland will be sowing cool-season crops, 'such as cabbage and broccoli,' in the greenhouse today.
According to my handy dandy new Gardening by the Moon 2010 wall calendar (that I received as a review copy from the publisher, and which is already proving helpful—there's even a PDF downloadable version available), I have until tomorrow or Thursday, when the second quarter moon is in Cancer, before I need to be thinking about planting above ground annuals.
No matter what, I obviously need to get cracking, especially since I'm determined to successfully grow brussels sprouts from seed this year (to feed my Quick Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Parmesan addiction), and they take forever to mature. Did I mention I haven't ordered any seeds yet either? Though I do have at least one 2009 packet of brussels sprouts seeds (along with dozens of other varieties) kicking around here someplace. I also want to direct seed some arugula, mache (a cold loving little green also known as corn salad), and lettuce in the unheated greenhouse to see if they'll sprout this early.
My excuse for not yet ordering seeds is that I need to take stock of what I already have first, and my seed collection isn't quite as organized as it was after the above-mentioned 2007 purging. Time to hurry up and take on the task, though, since before I know it, it'll be time to start all the warm weather seeds—and I can tell you from personal 2009 experience that if you live in southern Missouri, putting your tomato plants in the ground in mid-July (or even in June) is really not a good idea.
As far as storing and organizing my seeds, I have yet to come up with a surefire system that works best for me. I used to put seeds I save myself in plastic vitamin containers (there are a few in the photo above) rather than paper envelopes since they're airtight, but they take up a lot of space and don't stack well, so now I use itty bitty zipper bags that I buy for a couple of dollars per hundred from a vendor at a nearby antique/junk mall.
I like the little purple snapping lid containers pictured above for separating seeds by type, but lately I've found myself just using quart and gallon zipper freezer bags instead. One of the best places to store garden seeds is actually in an airtight container in the refrigerator (the freezer is good, too), so these bags take up much less space than the boxes. Now all I have to do is actually put the bags of seeds in the fridge.
So how do you organize and store your garden seeds? I'm sure some of you have figured out much better ways than I have!
8/6/05: New Cat on the Potting Bench
2/7/06: My Seed Starting Headquarters (with seed starting tips in the comments)
3/18/06: J2 on the Potting Bench
7/24/09: How to Beat the Heat
8/17/09: A Peek Inside My Potting Cabinet
9/4/09: Sacked Out Sylvester
4/28/06: Sublime Direct Seeded Salads for Those Who Are Short (on Time, Space, & Sunlight)
7/1/07: How to Grow Your Own Gourmet Lettuce from Seed—It's Easier than You Think!
5/31/06: Book Review: Astrological Gardening by Louise Riotte
From my early farm stories: Midnight Mothers & Minding the Moonsigns—A Busy Spring at Windridge
© 2010 FarmgirlFare.com, the can't bloom until you're planted foodie farm blog where starting containers of seeds is one of my favorite parts of gardening, but putting together the related links above, it quickly became clear that the farm cats get a lot more use out of my potting bench than I do. And I haven't forgotten about posting my list of new year's garden resolutions, although there's no big rush since I can't yet check anything off it.