If you’re anything like me, then you might have packets of seeds in places all over the house. You might store them in the shed, the greenhouse or perhaps you even stuff them in the fridge for safe keeping!
In this article we’re looking at 3 awesome seed organizer ideas, that’ll help to improve the shelf-life of your seeds and make sure they don’t get lost or forgotten about. This will mean less wastage and a more varied and productive garden.
Cool, Dry and Dark
In order to keep seeds viable for as long as possible, there are three main things to consider…
A cool, even temperature is best and ideally, as constant as possible. Most seeds are usable beyond their ‘best before’ date anyway, but keeping them cool will extend their life even further. If you have seeds that are particularly precious, you might even wish to keep them in a fridge or freezer. By storing seeds around 5 degrees Celsius or lower, you can dramatically improve the chances of preserving your seeds – and in some cases for several years. However, to avoid frost damage or rot, it’s important to keep the seeds in an airtight container and moisture-free.
Try to avoid moisture and humidity getting to your seeds as this can lead to them spoiling or even starting to germinate. Besides keeping your seeds in their original packaging, it’s usually a good idea to store them in an airtight container. If you’re storing seeds that you’ve collected yourself, then it’s important to make sure you dry the seeds before storing. Regardless of how you store your seeds, a simple way to protect them from moisture is to keep them in zip-lock, freezer bags or plastic tubs, which are cheap and easy to seal.
It’s generally thought that most seeds are best stored in the dark. Direct sunlight in particular, can degrade the seed or sometimes cause some seeds to germinate. If you decide to keep seeds in their original packaging, then this is probably dark enough in most cases. If your seeds were supplied in transparent packets, then it might be worth adding another layer of protection or even keeping them in a cupboard or somewhere out of the sunshine.
So, with those three things in mind, here are 3 great ideas that will not only protect your seeds from some or all of the above, but also help you to stay organised.
1. Photo Boxes
These seem to be a bit of a craze at the moment. Lots of gardeners online are calling them the “ultimate”…”genius”…”best ever”…(insert superlative here!)…seed organizer ever! Sure enough, they do seem to be the ideal size to hold seed packets (usually 6 x 4 inches). As a box within a box, they also have the benefit of double-sealing your seeds, protecting them from outside air and moisture. You could organise your seeds into the different smaller boxes in various ways – by plant type or by sowing month etc… And then you can easily label these smaller boxes and organise them within one or more of the outer containers.
Here we can see gardener and YouTuber, Tony C Smith very pleased with his new set – thanks for the demo, Tony!
2. Photo Albums
While they might not be completely airtight, photo albums provide a fantastic way of organising seeds. They can be pretty cheap to buy, just be sure to get the ones with individual plastic pockets, rather than the whole page sticky sheets. Photo albums are great, because you can easily swap things around and use a range of different ordering systems. There’s also usually some space on each page to write some little notes or reminders for yourself – such as ideal sowing times, use by dates etc…
In this great video, Robbie shows us how she organizes seeds using photo albums, which can be labelled and stored on a shelf or bookcase for quick reference.
3. CD / DVD Wallets
A slight variation on the last idea, CD / DVD wallets provide a slightly more compact way to store and organise your seeds. These wallets are compact and easy to carry around – especially handy when heading out into the garden to do some sowing. Most of these wallets will also provide a bit more protection than a photo album, as they’re generally made from tougher materials and everything is sealed inside with a clip or zip. The larger wallets will allow you to store more seeds in one place and so perhaps make it easier to find what you’re looking for.
There are some downsides. For example you mind find it tricky to fit larger seed packets and even smaller ones might need folding over at one end. However, they’re very handy for carrying around and you could also separate seeds out into different wallets for varying types or groups of plants. Some of these wallets might even be compact and rugged enough to store in a fridge or freezer, should you want to keep them extra cold.
Keeping Your Seeds Extra Fresh
All three of the ideas above should help to keep your seeds safe and make organising them much easier. As we mentioned earlier, if you’re really serious about preserving your seeds then it might be worth storing them at very cold temperatures in a fridge or freezer. This might be seeds that you’ve collected yourself, or perhaps rare varieties that are hard to replace. Keeping them all in cold storage might become impractical, especially if you have a lot of seeds and limited space in your regular fridge / freezer.
Therefore, you might even consider investing in a mini fridge, which could be used just for seed storage. This would be a very good way to keep them cold, safe and organised. There are many such products available these days and some are very compact and even portable – like the mini fridge pictured below, which is designed to hold smaller items like make-up. Your mini fridge needn’t be in the kitchen and, provided there is enough weather proofing and a power supply, could even be kept out in the garage, shed or garden room.
Where moisture or humidity in the air is likely to cause a problem, you could also store your seeds with some moisture absorbing materials. This could include things like silica gel packets, or even dried rice or a sheet of absorbent kitchen roll.
No one likes to waste seeds, so taking the time to store them in the right conditions can make a lot of sense. This is particularly beneficial if you have a large number of seeds – more than you can realistically use in one year.
Besides looking after your seeds, organising them in a logical way will help you to stay on top of what to sow and when. During the spring in particular, the garden can become a busy place and it’s easy to get side-tracked and forget about some of your seeds, sowing them too late (or not at all).
How you sort your seeds will depend on your collection and what you intend to grow and when. You could sort them into groups of plants, by name alphabetically or even into weeks / months of the year depending on when they need to be sown. Beginner gardeners might like this last approach, as they might have only a few varieties of seed and need an easy prompt to remind them when each will be ready to use. Those with more experience or with a larger seed collections might find it more useful to sort them by name / group so that they can easily find the packet they need when searching for it.
I wonder which method you’ll go for? What has worked / not worked for you in the past? Do let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. Happy sowing!