Old Seeds, Call Out For Old Seeds


I went through another box of old seeds, a box that I keep in the garage, and I found a seed packet from 1986.

I think that’s the oldest seed packet I have. It pre-dates my first vegetable garden by one year, so it must be some seeds that my Dad had. There are still some seeds in the packet, lettuce seeds if you are wondering, a variety imaginatively called ‘Salad Mix’ from the Fredonia Seed Company.

The rest of the seed packets in the box are from 1987, the year I planted my first vegetable garden.
I've sure learned a lot about vegetable gardening since I planted that first garden in 1987. My garden today looks nothing like that first garden.

Let's see, those 1987 seeds are... fingers and toes, back to fingers... 21 years old. Now how could that be? This spring I will be planting my 21st vegetable garden. I wish now I had better records of those earlier gardens!

Hey, who are you calling an old gardener!? I was very young when I planted that first garden, very young.

Anyway, who has seeds older than my 1986 seeds? What's the story behind them?


  1. Wow Carol, your seed collection is like an archelogical dig. I too wish I had kept records of my first gardens. I have moved a few times so gardens in the past are lost, most even in memory. The garden book I had at my last garden I gave to my Sister since she and her hubby bought my house.

    I have a few seeds in the garage. None near as old as yours tho. Mine are only a couple of years old.

  2. I got my Select Seeds catalog yesterday and as I was hi-lighting my desires in bed last night I reminded myself to look through all the seeds I have left over. I don't think I'll come near your record, though.

  3. ok, Carol, I don't want to hear anything from you about getting rid of stuff. Gee, I don't even remember where you were living at that time. Wasn't your very first flower garden at your first apt, & when did you start growing vegetables.


  4. I found one out of the garage from 1988. I'll need to rummage through the old house in order to find the really "old" stuff. I'd bet there's a seed pack dating back to 1979.

    The story is simple.
    My wife hasn't thrown out anything since we got our own place. We now have another house down the road. The old house has been turned into a family museum filled with keepsakes. Well at least that sounds better than "the old shack down the road filled with junk".

  5. Hi Carol. I've been following your blog since last fall and this year is going to be my first attempt at a 'real' garden, so I really appreciate all your seed posts. You've been a big inspiration to me. I took your advice and got the orders ready, made a spreadsheet, a garden design, then a seeding calendar. Then, last night I read that corn doesn't like to be near tomatoes, which is a problem for my garden design. I was wondering if you had covered companion planting at any time, if you could point me in the right direction to the post? If not, do you think planting sweet corn and tomato beds 2 feet apart is ok? Thanks a bunch.

  6. Carol: LOL at your 21st anniversary of your 21st year and garden! Just hang with those of us who are, ahem, a bit older than you and then you will feel like the kid you are!

  7. I just went through my seeds a couple weeks ago for the new year. My oldest seeds were from 1991. I told myself I could not order any new seeds this year until I went through the old stuff.

  8. hi carol, i've been reading your blog for awhile now but lately you just really crack me up! i'm afraid my blog has gone on a tea binge like yours went on a seed catalog binge. i have been planning, for a couple years now, a master-organizing binder for all my seed packets, new and left-over. they are all still in a heap in a small box. none of mine are as old as yours but i feel i have more than i need and of course am dying to order more(especially pumpkins and gourds-fun, fun!). maybe one day we will all keep records, be organized and have a perfect garden but what fun would that be?

  9. It surprised me very much that the oldest seed packet in my basket was dated 2001. Maybe the garden fairies threw out the old ones because I'm not usually that organized.

    Congratulations on 21 years of vegetable gardens, Carol!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  10. Lisa at Greenbow, we certainly won't forget the gardens we have today, with all the digital pictures we take and post online!

    M Sinclair, I do have some old seeds; unfortunately most are no longer viable, but it is fun to look through them.

    Eleanor, The 1st vegetable garden was at my 1st house, though I did grow a few tomatoes in my apartment garden.

    Wiseacre, Wow, a house for family keepsakes. Let me know if you unearth any old seeds.

    Jennifer, thanks for the nice comment. I have not posted much on companion planting. As far as corn near tomatoes, bad idea, I've heard. I would guess it has something to do with a common pest, though I am not sure. See if you can put some beans or something between the corn and tomatoes. (I've only just added corn to my garden a few years ago, long story for another post).

    Layanee, I'm not quite the kid I once was... just a few weeks from another birthday.

    Linette, make sure your old seeds are viable before spring or you might be disappointed!

    Laura, Yes, what fun would perfection be? But really, do you ever have enough seeds? I obviously don't think so!

    Annie in Austin, That's exactly the kind of thing garden fairies would do, throw out or more likely hide your old seed packets. Proof that you do have garden fairies down there in Texas.

    Thanks all for the comments. I'm still looking for someone with seeds older than 1986. Come on, someone has got to have older seeds than me!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  11. Last year, my mother gave me envelopes of seeds I collected when I was a kid living at home. For lack of a camera to take pictures of the snapdragon flowers, I described the flowers as well as I could on the package with crayons, embellishing with a crayon drawing of the flower. Not quite the same as a fancy T&M package, but colorful.

  12. 1987 or not, you're still a baby. I planted my first vegetable garden in 1978. So, does that make you feel better?

  13. Ha! I won't even tell you how old I was in 1986. My younger sister wasn't even born yet!


    Thanks for keeping us all entertained over the Winter!

    Katie at GardenPunks

  14. 1983! I couldn't believe it. Backstory here: http://lifeontigermountain.blogspot.com/2008/01/ephemera.html

  15. Carol,

    The perfect piece of furniture awaits you over at Hobby Lobby. It has 18 small drawers, each about the width of a seed packet, about 8 inches deep. Perfect to catalog your seeds. I walked by and it screamed "Carol, Carol, Carol!"

  16. Hi Carol,

    Last summer I went through one collection of seeds and planted many - none of the annual flowers came up. They were from the mid-1990s.

    The oldest seeds I have are in a plastic pill bottle and are from the late-1970s when I was - well, 22. (See you are a young one!)My mum gave me these from my uncle's garden - Calendula. My first garden was in 1979, but I planted veggies and only red flowers so never used the Calendula seeds. And then I moved and didn't ever plant those seeds.

    This was a fun remembrance... hadn't thought about these seeds for years.

  17. Gardenista, Those sound like special seeds, indeed.

    Mary, Yes, that makes me feel so much better!

    Katie, Thanks for the nice comment!

    Molly, That's quite a story, thanks for sharing it with us.

    Sherry, I'll have to go check it out!

    Kate, Happy to hear you have fun memories of old seeds!

    Thanks all for the nice comments,
    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  18. I don't personally have any seeds older than yours, BUT I did get my hands on some last year. Morning glory seeds packaged for 1949, meaning they came from 1948. That would be SIXTY years ago! I planted them. Want to know more?

  19. Wow...1986 has me beat, and kylee's 1948 blew my mind! I'm so glad that I'm not the last packrat on earth...yay!


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