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We LOVE seeds… but organizing them, and finding the seeds you want to plant when you need them can present a challenge. We wanted to share Ruby’s system of organizing our seeds and planning a multi-season garden.
TL;DR: We store seeds alphabetically by type in 3-ring binders, and we pull seeds selected for this year’s garden into a separate binder organized by season.
We have three large 3-ring binders, with plastic “page protector” inserts, and homemade “tabs” (post-it notes + clear tape) to store our seeds.
The seeds are organized in alphabetical order in two binders, by crop categories (like carrots, radishes, sunflowers, tomatoes, etc).
The third binder holds the seeds – and plans – for this year’s garden, and it is organized by season.
Each crop has one plastic page protector, which contains a tracking sheet, any information we have about the particular type of seeds/plants, and all of the seed packets.
We may have just one variety for certain seeds (like kale or spinach right now) or we may have multiple varieties (for example, we have more than a dozen kinds of lettuce and half a dozen types of carrots). Regardless of how many varieties we have, all of the seeds go in the single plastic pouch for their crop type.
The third binder is for this year’s garden, and it is segmented into sections for spring, summer, fall, and overwinter cover crops. When we decide — usually in January or early February — what we want to plant for the year, we pull out the seeds we have selected from the alphabetized binders. We temporarily store those selected seed packets in the “crop tracker” binder until we plant them and they sprout. Once the young seedlings have sprouted in sufficient number, we return the seed packets to their regular homes.
The crop tracker allows us to plan for successive plantings of different varieties throughout the season, and provides an easy way to keep track of what is planted and what needs to be planted throughout the year. It also facilitates the planning process to ensure that crops (and varieties within specific crops) are grown in their optimal conditions.
Using this system, we can easily select cold-tolerant varieties in early spring gardens and bolt-resistant varieties for summer gardens, without a lot of fuss. It removes the chore of sorting through seeds every time you want to plant another round of lettuce, because you only do the sorting once (during winter when you’re dreaming about your garden).
Using this system, we select the types of lettuce (for example) that we want to grow from all the varieties we have saved. Looking at cold/heat tolerance, we slide the seed packets into the correct “season” pocket in the crop tracker.
When it’s time to plant the spring garden, we have all the seeds we need, when we are ready to start the summer seedlings, everything is already in place … and so on throughout the year.
We often do “successive planting,” meaning that we will plant carrots or lettuce or whatnot every couple of weeks throughout the spring and summer – when this happens, we just store the seeds in the crop tracker for the current or next season (for example right now, we have radishes we’ve planted already that will be planted again in the spring garden and then planted in the summer garden several times. So the seeds are hanging out for now in the “spring” pocket of the crop tracker, but as soon as we finish the last spring sowing, we will move the seeds to the “summer” pocket. After the summer crop is sown, the seeds will be returned to the alphabetized binder. As soon as whatever variety is sprouted/established and we know we are not planting more this year, we move the seed packets back to their permanent home in the alphabetized binders.
Your Crop Tracker
You can use our crop tracker template to create your own system. Here is our crop tracker document – feel free to use it as is or make edits to fit your needs.
(you can download and print, or download and edit, or make a copy of the template document)