Sunday, January 29, 2012

Seed Organization and Garden Planning

I've mentioned before that I like things organized and tidy.  It helps me make good use of my time, and I"m sure you would agree time is something very precious.  It also keeps my OCD/ADD brain from going wacko.  I get distracted too easily, so I need order to keep myself focused and on task. 

To that end, I started thinking about seed organization and garden planning lately.  Last year I had my seeds in little plastic storage containers, which didn't work for me at all.  So, this year, I decided to try something different.  I had a stack of note card envelopes on hand, and the see packets fit in them perfectly.  I decided to write pertinent information on the outside, such as variety, from where and when I bought them, whether they were an annual or perennial (This mainly applies to flowers and herbs.), companion planting information, and a log of where, when and how many seeds I planted, as shown here:

Then, I took all of the envelopes and stuck them in a plastic container alphabetically.  It is better than what I had, but I think it can be improved even more, such time of year to plant and reminders to plant certain seeds in succession, such at lettuce.  I've seen systems that utilize a notebook and photo album pages, but I can see the seeds spilling out of the top of the photo album pages.  And what do you do with the big fat seeds, such as beans?  I don't think that would work for me.  My friend, L. has designed her own system with hanging folders and ziploc bags.  She even worked up a spreadsheet to attached to each hanging folder.  It's pretty eloborate, so I look forward to hearing how it works for her.  Just this morning, she sent me this link for seed organization, which I think is probably the direction I may take with some tweaks.  I'm generally on the same path already with my envelopes.

As if organizing seeds isn't enough to tackle, now is the time to start planning my garden for the year.  I already have some things sprouting, but the bulk of the garden is still to come.  I have several raised beds, so square foot gardening is the path I take for those.  I generally get some graph paper and draw out my beds, but a few days ago I came across this online garden planner.  There are several garden planning programs out there, but this one is free, and there are several things I like about it.  You can set the square footage of the bed you're planning, such as 4x8.  You can move plants in and out of the squares, and as you move a plant into a square, it automatically generates how many you can plant per square foot, such as 16 radishes per square foot.  Also, as you select plants for the bed, basic planting information for that plant pops up at the bottom of the page.  You can even rename the plants once you place them from say, tomato, to Black Krim tomato, and when you print the final version, the name changes show up on the print version in each square.  There are other features as well that I have not explored.  I'm going to give it a go for my garden planning this year and see how it works.  I would love to hear what you think of it.

Now, for you big project planners, Better Homes and Gardens has a project planning program on its website as well.  This program approaches a broader scope than just a vegetable bed, and it has many interesting features.  It is also free.

Well, I hope this helps you get an organized jump start on your gardens this year. 

Happy homesteading,





  1. Whoa, I think you're gonna be way more organized than I am. I'm not very good at (nor do I much like)working with computerized programs. I plot my raised beds and field garden and pumpkin patch out on notebook paper in my three-ring binder. Always use pencil so I can change things around. I keep the pages from each previous year so I'm sure to rotate my crops from year to year. Even at that, I sometimes make changes when I'm actually planting. We all need to use the system that works best for us. 'Course, the best of the best is getting out in the garden!!

    1. Exactly! If pencil and paper works best, use it. I erase so much I rub a hole in the paper though! I like this because I can move things around and print the final version. I'm sure even after printing, once I get in the garden, I'll make changes. That's how it goes.

  2. I am always interested in how others organize their seeds. Sounds like you've got a good system. This year I just put them in alphabetical order in shoe boxes by year collected or purchased. My problem is that when I save seed, I tend to save more than an envelopes worth! Can't figure out how to fit those jars into my "order." :)

    The Kitchen Garden Planner looks like a lot of fun. I went to the BHG website, but didn't want to sign up for anything, so I can't comment on that one. I'm hopeing that once I get my companion plant beds perfected, all I'll have to do is rotate beds every year!

    1. I can see how organizing your seeds could be different. You plant on a much larger scale than I do, and you are more advanced in your seed saving and companion planting than I am. I'm still learning, so I need all the help I can get.

  3. Hi, Candace -

    Would you please send me your mailing address (just go over to the Contact button on my right hand side bar) so I'll have it to send you your Hand Made Pay It Forward gift when I get it made? Thanks much!