A Quick Tip for Saving Seed Packets

If you've been reading my blog, you know that I start a heck of a lot (almost all!) of my vegetable and herb garden from seed each year. I also grow quite a few flowers from seed too, although my flower seed collection is much smaller than my vegetable seeds.

Gardeners keep & store their seeds in lots of different ways: envelopes, paper bags, zip-lock plastic bags, glass jars, plastic tubs and bins, file/card cabinets, boxes, etc. I've even seen some of the more organized (or should I say anal?) gardeners talk about storing them in photo albums. I have too many seeds for to do that - I'd have photo albums out the wazoo and, let's face it, I'm just not that organized.

How I Keep My Seed Packets

I keep my seeds in a big plastic bin that is about 30" x 18" and 6 inches deep. It allows me to store the packets  in 3 rows inside the bin. I separate the vegetables, herbs, and flowers into sections within the bin and place cardboard dividers between the rows to keep the rows from "co-mingling". I try to keep everything within each section in alphabetical order. The bin has a lid and I store it in a dark closet of a bedroom that we don't use much (and where the heat is turned down quite low in the winter). It's a low tech system, but it works pretty well for me.

Seed Packet Information

Seed packets usually come with all sorts of information about the magic seeds inside and how to grow them: you'll usually find general information about the plant, growing instructions (including the depth the seed should be planted, how far apart the seedlings need to be planted or thinned to, the days to germination, days to maturity, and how and when to harvest), nutritional information (sometimes), and the lot number and date/year the seeds were packed.

The date is critical because as seeds age, their viability (or ability to grow) diminishes. So, it's really important to check the date on every seed pack you buy. Most seed packets just have the date information stamped somewhere on the back of the packet. I've found that some seed companies are better about how and where they present this information than others.

Saving Seed Packets

A Quick Tip

My "Quick Tip" for you is to take a moment and write the date (or year) that is stamped on the seed packet with a permanent marker on the side of the seed packet. And, if for some reason the seed packet isn't dated, write the date you purchased the seed.


Well, if you are like me, you might inadvertently tear off the date in your zeal to get to the seeds. Quite a few seed manufacturers seem to stamp the date on the fold or lip of the seed envelope -- you know, the part you are going to open. These little folds rarely open without tearing a bit and unless you are very, very careful, chances are you'll tear through the date or rip off (and lose, of course) the date altogether! Once gone, you'll never know what the date was and you'll be scratching your head next year.

Understanding Seed Packets

I've also had some seed stamps that are so light that it is hard to read them. And with time, the stamps seem to get even lighter. The date stamp can also rub off if it hasn't been printed with quality ink or if it gets wet. As the date lightens or rubs off, it can become difficult or impossible to read.

Seed Packet Dates

So, my solution is that I write the year of the pack date or use by date on the side (where I will be unlikely to rip it off!) of each seed packet with a good old Sharpie. This makes it less likely that I might need to guess about the viability of the certain seeds. It has also saved me a ton of headaches and, as my eyes get older each year,  a lot of squinting (or looking for a magnifying glass!) too.

Seed Envelope Dates

Dating Seeds

Feb 24 2014
Posted in: Seed Starting

Join the Conversation!

February 25, 2014

What a great tip! I can't tell you how many dates I've ripped off seed packets when opening them!!!


February 25, 2014

Ha! You and me both!

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