Saturday, July 18, 2009

Organizing Seeds

We grow a lot of different varieties of Veggies and Herbs. When we are in the peak of Planting, things are really flying around here. The House looks like a Blizzard of Seed Packs. Well, maybe that is an overstatement.

Now that the Planting has slowed, it is time to take a look at organizing our Seed Collection. Since all 3 of us use the Seed Stash, a simple system that allows us ease of getting into and out of the Seed Collection is essential. We simply need to know what we have. Plus, each of the Seed Packs has some important information.

I used the "Major Vegetable Families" identified by Suzanne Ashworth in Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners (2002) as a start. This excellent reference is from Seed Savers Exchange (, which specializes in Heirloom Plants. You just can't get a better reference than that for what we intend to do. I have read at this reference and have only touched the surface. It will be an invaluable Friend for our learning ahead.

Why did I choose "Major Vegetable Families" as an organizer for our Seeds? 1st, we did not know the Family Groupings so this became an important way to help us see them. 2nd, we know that each "Family" has some similar characteristics. As we grow produce, those characteristics need to be increasingly clear to us. 3rd, patterning our collection after this excellent reference seemed to be a clever way to learn more. The book is organized in similar manner. 4th, we plan to rotate our crops. One way to do that is to consider Families.

I only made 2 edits from Ashworth's system: I divided Beans into "Green Beans" and "Dry Edible Beans". I separated Corn into "Sweet Corn" and "Indian Corn". This seemed to fit our needs.

I took a Rubbermaid Tub for the Seed Collection. We cut dividers and tabs from used Cardboard. We are getting really good at using Cardboard around here. We hardly need to take any into the Recycling Center. I added a Color Coding System with my Colored Pencils. As per usual, I will take any and every opportunity to play with my Colored Pencils.

This is the organizational system I came up with:

Amaryllidaceae: Leeks, Common Onions;
Brassicaceae: Cabbage, Broccoli and Cauliflower, Kale and Collards, Brussels Sprouts, Chinese Cabbage, Radishes;
Chenopodiaceae: Beets and Swiss Chard; Spinach;
Compositae: Sunflower, Lettuce;
Cucurbitaceae: Watermelon, Muskmelon and Cantaloupe, Cucumbers, Squash, Luffa; Leguminosae: Lima Beans, Green Beans, Dry Edible Beans, Garden Peas and Edible Podded Peas;
Solanaceae: Peppers, Tomato, Tomatillo, Eggplant;
Umbelliferae: Dill, Celery and Celeriac, Carrot, Fennel, Parsnip, Parsley;
Amaranthaceae: Amaranth;
Gramineae: Sweet Corn, Indian Corn;
Labiatae: Basil;
Liliaceae: Asparagus;
Malvaceae: Okra;
Polygonaceae: Rhubarb;
Valerianaceae: Common Corn Salad

Please, don't ask us to pronounce those Family Names. My 9th and 10th Grade Latin instruction still serves me fairly well, but pronunciation is a little dusty. That's a lot of Vowels.

I have yet to organize Flowers, Herbs, and our Tallgrass Prairie Collection. That will come later. This is a great start for now. It just feels good.

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