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  • Writer's pictureToni Kenyon

Garden Seed Storage Solutions

Seed storage
I'm in love with this storage system

A glossy, colourful seed catalogue found its way to my mail box the other day.

This is a dangerous time of the year for me. Soon my inbox will be filled with notifications from other companies and people that I purchase seeds from that their new year collections are available to be purchased.

It’s the time of the year when I decide that I want to plant ALL THE SEEDS!!

I simply can’t.

As much as I would love to plant every different variety of tomato and ALL THE HERBS!! There’s not enough space in the hoop house to accommodate thousands of seedlings—never mind the actual garden bed space needed for all those plants.

But that doesn’t stop the overwhelming desire I have to leaf through the colourful pages of catalogues (or scroll through the enticing, colourful pictures from various online stores) gathering a list of all of the plants that I MUST GROW this growing season.

I already have on my list so far:

  • Ashwaganda

  • Astragalus

  • Anise Hyssop

  • Bronze Fennel

  • Mullein

  • White Sage

  • Orange Thyme

  • Wormwood

  • Rhubarb

  • Papaya

  • Pepino

  • Pumpkin - Baby Bear

  • Butterscotch Squash

  • Jaune Et Verte Squash

And I’m not even half way through the latest catalogue…

Then I remember that I still have a ridiculous number of packets of seeds lurking in my seed storage space waiting for their turn to sprout. Aside from the seeds that I carefully saved from last year’s favourite crops that will need to be planted again this year.

Before I commit to purchasing any of the above, I know I have to go through my seed packets to make sure that none of the desired seeds (especially herbs) might already be hiding in my overstuffed seed boxes.

Messy seeds in boxes
Not the tidiest of seed saving arrangements!

So, I was determined this year that I would get myself organised—and I’d seen a couple of blog posts and videos late last summer from gardening peeps in the northern hemisphere who were organising themselves for their coming season.

It seems that photo boxes are the answer!

I can see the logic in using these little plastic boxes to keep your seeds dry and to keep them arranged in whatever ‘families’ work for you.

A few years ago, I had a good go at keeping myself organised and moved all my seed packets into a lovely basket. With great care, I arranged all the packets in alphabetical order and put together a spreadsheet of everything in the basket. Have I mentioned how much I hate spreadsheets?

As it turned out, whenever it came time to purchase seeds (like all the time)—we gardeners can never resist the lure of shiny, new seed packets—I never seemed to be able to find the darn spreadsheet, or it somehow wasn’t available.

When I sorted through my seeds to put them into my fantastic new boxes, I discovered how many packets of Basil I really owned!

So, what families did I put my seeds into?

  • Allium

  • Beans

  • Brassicas

  • Broad beans

  • Chard

  • Corn & Grain

  • Culinary Herbs

  • Herbs

  • Flowers

  • Fruit

  • Lettuce

  • Peas

  • Roots

  • Squash

  • Tomatoes/Peppers/Eggplants

The quick amongst you will notice that the above is an uneven number. I have one ‘unallocated’ box waiting to see which of the others becomes overcrowded.

The beauty of this system is that if I find that my tomato collection really does get out of hand then I can reallocate the packets in the overcrowded box and rename. It’s unlikely that the tomato collection will get out of hand because the seeds are so very small and most of them are saved, so there’s not many huge packets in that particular box.

The bean box and the corn and grain box are an altogether different matter…

But shouldn’t I keep my seeds in the fridge?

Aside from the fact that I don’t have room for a box of seeds in my fridge because it’s always full of the food I grow in the garden, the answer is no.

Seeds like to remain dry and in the dark. I keep mine in a cupboard in the centre of the house. They are out of any kind of direct sunlight, and the cupboard remains at a steady temperature all of the year.

Perfect storage conditions for seeds.

Individual seed storage box
How many packets of Basil?

What about those expiry dates on the packet?

Honestly, I never worry about those.

If the seed is past the ‘sow by’ date, I just make sure that I plant a little more thickly in case some of the seeds don’t germinate. If I’m really concerned, I do a germination test to see what percentage of the seeds are going to germinate, then sow accordingly.

In fact, this year my son and I ran an experiment with a packet of tomato seeds that were 8 years past their expiry date. About half the seeds germinated and now we have fresh seed saved for next year.

What’s best Heritage or Hybrid seeds?

I love my heritage seeds. Mainly because I can save seeds from them. I only have to purchase one packet and then I save seeds that will grow true to type again the next year.

I also love the idea that the seed will adapt to my own special micro-climate. I find that each year the crop seems easier to grow and I’m sure that I’m not imagining that. Some of my tomatoes grow like weeds now.

I do buy some hybrid seeds—usually because I want to try a new variety of something—but there’s a little part of me that resents having to purchase the seed again if we decide that we like the fruit or vegetable that grew from the hybrid seed.


I’m hoping that I’ve cracked the seed saving code with this one.

Time will tell and I’ll keep you all updated on how the system works. What I’m really looking forward to is being able to take each of the individual little plastic boxes out to the hoop house when I’m sowing seed.

I think it’s going to be altogether a better system for sowing too, because the seeds will all be safe in their little waterproof box while they’re out in the garden with me.

Now, where did I leave that seed catalogue...?

Love & lettuce,

Toni xx

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