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  • Writer's pictureKatherine

Organizing Seeds and Planting Dates

Okay, so you planned out your garden, purchased seeds and now your left with a giant container of seed envelopes that you have to flip through. Planting time was chaotic because you had to rifle through what felt like a million seed packets in order to find the ones that you needed right then. Some were missed or overlooked.

This was 100% me when I was planning the farm garden. I never quite had a handle on getting seeds organized besides grouping them by season. Insert Homestead and Chill's brilliant seed organization hack * using a plastic photo organization box to store and organize seeds. Winter of 2022 I saw this hack and immediately knew that I had to organize my chaos before I purchased anymore seeds. So I headed off to shop for these on the web expecting to spend a fortune. To my surprise, our local Michael's craft store had these* in stock and in the winter they run a 50% off sale for organization items! (They are even on sale Jan 2023) SCORE!

I organized my seeds by plant groupings. (ie brassicas are in one container, winter greens in one etc) Then I simply dusted off my label maker and had an organized, easy to use storage system for my seeds!

Now the tricker part was to go through and inventory all of my seeds. At first I started using paper and a pen, but then I got to thinking that Google Sheets was always so easy for me to use at the farm, why not try it here? Once I started going with the basic information, I began to see the need to add lots of specific details so that I could group the seeds either by planting dates, seasons or the need to create plugs etc. All of this information can be found on the seed package, sure, but the ease of having a spreadsheet to look over and filter by groups makes things so much more streamlined!

One thing that I always loved about utilizing Google's Sheets, Docs and Calendars is that operates on a cloud system and will automatically update between devices. This always came in handy on the farm because I was not always in front of my computer. I could easily be out in the field and pull Sheets up on my phone to update a number or reference an important document.

While the applications for these programs is not as drastic as farm life, having an organized system is always a bonus! If you are out shopping at your local garden store and they have a sale on seeds, you can reference your list right from your phone to identify which ones you need. I've included a screen shot of what my inventory list looks like and some of the categories that I found important. I have been debating adding a few columns of extra information but for right now, this is plenty for me to start with.

If you are a seasoned farmer/gardener, these columns will be fairly self explanatory but if you are relatively new to all of this then here is just a short outline of why I chose this specific information.

Packed for date is an important date to keep track of because as the seeds get older, their germination rate decreases significantly. More seeds will have to be planted to get a good yield and some might not even sprout at all.

Planting Timeline indicates whether or not I need to start seedlings indoors. In this column, I know that my warm weather crops should be out around or a little before Easter, so I find that date and work backwards from there. Crops that need 4-6 weeks before transplanting out will start indoors then grow to maturity and be hardened off before heading into the garden outside. Keeping track of this number really helps me organize the calendar since I can filter by date of planting outside then filter again by how many weeks before that date I can start my seedlings.

When determining the planting outside timeline, some seed packets keep it real simple and include a growing zone map with months that the particular seed can be planted. But if there is not that information, use your other resources like the Farmer's Almanac to help determine when you should start seeds and what date is right to plant outside.

And it's that simple. Just go through all of your seeds and input this information in the Sheet. It's also important to not that if you are working with multiple different quantities or you purchased 1/4 pound of seed instead of a packet to keep track of that as well. I only have small packets, so everything is uniform in my list. I plan to highlight the row in yellow if I am running low on seed and red if I use the whole packet so that I can determine if I need to purchase more or wait until the next season to restock. Then next season, I can spend less time going through the inventory of my seeds and more on exploring new exciting varieties to grow! The best part: You can update from the garden in real time from your phone or tablet!

If you are not a fan or user of the Google products, there are other cloud organization products out there. I am not as familiar with the Office Suite's paid version, from what I have seen from my husband's work set up it also could have this same capability. So if you are familiar with Office and have the paid cloud version, I encourage you to utilize this as well!

What organization tactics do you use in your garden/farm? I'd love to hear if you have a system that works for you!

*These links have been added for reader convenience, no commissions are made if you click on them

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