Early responses to the Garden Bloggers Seed Survey indicate that darn near every gardener sows a few seeds. In fact, just one respondent out of 21 so far doesn’t sow seeds. The reason given is because they buy the seeds and then forget about them, so they buy plants.
Yes, I agree, plants are bigger and easier to see than packets of seeds and aren’t usually tossed in a drawer and forgotten. But I know some gardeners who buy plants, set them behind some shrubs or off to one side, and then promptly forget about them and never get around to planting them.
Not me, of course, but I’ve heard of gardeners who have done that. Did you know it's cheaper to forget to sow a packet of seeds than to forget to plant an actual plant?
Another observation from the early returns on the survey (which you can still participate in, if you would like to do so) is that no one seems to have more than 50 packets of seeds… except me.
I would guess one reason is because seeing that many seed packets and knowing you are going to sow all those seeds, might be a bit overwhelming to some gardeners. But with a little bit of time spent organizing your seed sowing, anyone can manage this many seeds.
Here’s what I do to organize my seeds.
List all of the seed varieties on a spreadsheet. I usually note type, such as annual, perennial, vegetable; name; variety; whether to sow indoors or outdoors; and approximate date I’ll sow the seeds. I have spreadsheets going back to 1999, I think. It makes for a nice history of my garden.
Figure out how much room you have inside to sow seeds. I have two shelf units for my seed starting, with three shelves each and each shelf will hold a flat and a half. Each half flat has enough room for 25 pots. I usually use the Jiffy pots that come in strips. So I can grow 225 plants per shelf unit, or a total of 450 plants. Once I know that, I look at the seeds I want to sow inside and figure out how many of each variety I’ll grow in those pots.
By the way, some years, I sow seeds for that many plants, but many years, I don’t. I grow less.
Make up good plant labels for the seedlings, especially those you will sow inside. Trust me, it is hard to tell one tomato variety from another when you are just looking at the tomato plant. In fact, it's impossible. For my plant labels, I sometimes copy the seed name and varieties from the spreadsheet into a document, fix the spacing a bit, then print the page of names, cut them out into label size pieces, and use inexpensive clear laminate to cover the labels, which I then tape to a wooden ice cream spoon, the kind you can buy at craft stores. Got that?
But sometimes, I just write a number on the plant label/small wooden ice cream spoon and cross reference it to a number on my printed seed list. It just depends on the year and how much time and energy I want to put into the labels.
Stick to your seed sowing schedule. When it is time to sow seeds inside, do it! When it is time to sow seeds outside, do it! Then take care of your seedlings.
Share extra seeds with other gardeners. I’ll admit I’ve not done very well at sharing my extra seeds but this year I hope to find a few budding gardeners who would like to try to grow some plants from seeds, and give them some of my extras. I’ll also end up with a few extra tomato and pepper plants, so I’ll give those away, too, if I can find any takers.
This evening, I've been looking over all my seed packets, seeing what I have, getting ready to make up my spreadsheet.
I found the Impatien seeds that I thought I hadn't purchased, a lovely variety called ‘Midnight Blend’ from Botanical Interests. The packet is beautifully illustrated, of course.
I also thought I had purchased a bunch of nasturtium seeds because I liked how they looked last summer in the vegetable garden. But I only have three packets, ‘Alaska Mix’, ‘Jewel Mix’, and ‘Black Velvet’. I think I need a few more varieties of naturtiums.
I wonder what other seeds I have that I don’t remember ordering or what seeds I thought I ordered, but didn't? I’ll bet the garden fairies know. In fact, they might be responsible for a fair number of these seeds. I'm curious now. I better get on with making up that spreadsheet to answer the question, “just what seeds do I have”?