Second best to looking through seed catalogues, is seed organization. That day when they finally come in the mail is a good day! As my seed collection grows, the need for better organization comes too. Seed organization is important to keep track of everything and know what you have, plus it makes it easier to make a planting plan!
At first I was using a cute little metal container for all of them, but I quickly outgrew that. Next, I used a larger metal tin, with cardboard dividers for each vegetable family. That worked well, but since I didn’t have lid for it, taking seeds out to the garden to plant was a little annoying. Then I saw the holy grail of seed organization: photo storage containers!! You might have seen it already on the internet, but if you haven’t its individual plastic containers that are 4” x 6” big, inside of a larger carrying case with a handle. Can it get any better? It’s meant for photos, but it fits all seed pack sizes perfectly!
The Seed Organization Secret
Secret’s out: instead of organizing seeds in groups of vegetable type, I organize them in groups of start dates! This makes your seed starting journey MUCH easier! Here’s how it works:
Most often you will see either 10-12 weeks, 8-10 weeks, 6-8 weeks, 4-6 weeks or direct sow on your seed packs or catalogues telling you when the best time to start the seed is.
I start with getting all my seeds laid out on the table and will then go through and group them together based on seed starting and direct sow times. Then I simply take one container, put some tape on it, write the correct start date and file all the seeds accordingly. For example, all tomatoes and peppers fall into the 8-10 week category, so they would all go in the same container.
Ive made it super easy for you guys by making a couple printable to help you along the way! The first is a little chart telling you what veggies fall into what category, ‘When to Start Your Seeds’, so you’ll know exactly how to label your categories. And the second is a fill-in-the-blank ‘Seed Staring Schedule’.
The most important thing to do for the ‘Seed Staring Schedule’ is to find the date of your last frost. For us here in Southern Alberta it’s May long weekend (fingers crossed lol). Here is a good website https://www.plantmaps.com/index.php to check your last frost date.
Once you know that date you can simply work backwards. So if I’m going with May 24, I simply count backwards to 12 weeks. **Please note where I live (zone 4a), I like to give my plants as much head start as possible so I like to start on the high end of the 2 week timeframes ie. 12 weeks vs 10, 10 weeks vs. 8, etc. ** 10 weeks from May 24 is March 15. So I know on March 15, I need to start all of my 8-10 week veggies: tomato, pepper, leek, and artichoke seeds, as shown on the ‘Seed Staring Schedule’ I filled out! Do the same for the other weeks and fill in the blanks for the dates on my Seed Starting Schedule printable.
As you can see above I filled mine out (well started too), at least, I’ve got a lot of seeds, haha. The number in the column is the amount of plants I will start. I know I am going to want more paste tomatoes (for sauce making) than snacking tomatoes, so that’s why I put a 10 beside the San Marzano’s and 5 beside the Brad’s Atomic. (Side noet: if you haven’t grown Brad’s Atomic grape tomato from Baker Creek…….. you must!!! Drop everything and order it now.)
It’s helpful to set a reminder on your phone or calendar of when you need to start your seeds. And a daily reminder after you’ve planted to check them, water them, etc. everyday.
It’s also important to make sure you have enough grow lights. For example some of the Baker Creek seeds say 8-12 weeks, that’s a pretty large time frame. So if all your peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, etc fall under that same time frame, make sure you have enough space to grow them all at once. Filling out your ‘Seed Staring Schedule’ with the number of plants you want will also help with this.
So now that my seed organization secret isn’t so secret anymore, I’d love to know how you make out! Let me know below in the comments.