Whether you're a seasoned gardener or just getting started, it's good to keep your seeds organized. I like to take inventory of my personal seed stash early in the year before we start planting and again just before Fall Planting.
One of the fantastic reasons for growing your own food from heirloom seeds is the unique varieties available to you. At Mary's Heirloom Seeds we currently offer over 800 varieties of heirloom seeds. All of our seeds are Heirloom, open-pollinated, untreated, non-hybrid and non-gmo. That means you can grow your own food and save your seeds for future planting if you want.
If you've just started growing from seeds, you may have used up your seed stash in your garden. Not to worry, there's always something fun available at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.
Seeds have a shelf life for optimal viability depending on the seed type and how you store your seeds. It is important to use up older seeds first. If you are unsure, you can always perform a germination test prior to planting.
If you take notes on which varieties did well in your garden and which ones struggled, you can use this information for future garden planning and seed saving or seed purchasing.
If you inventory your seeds by type and then variety, it will make finding them to plan and plant much easier.
To help you get started with your seed inventory, we have a free, printable Seed Inventory worksheet.
We use "dropbox" for our free downloads. If you're on a desktop, there are no additional steps. For a mobile device, you'll need the dropbox app to continue.
If you have a large amount of seeds, these pages can be hole bunched and stored in a binder.
To help you stay organized, check out this video for more info on how long seeds can be stored as well as different storage options.
Here's another helpful video.
This is especially helpful if you have a large seed stash.
Did you have a favorite heirloom tomato you grew last year? Add a note to your inventory! Please don't ask me if I have a favorite heirloom tomato variety because I've never met an heirloom tomato that I didn't like!
Did you grow Okra this year and while you enjoyed it you don't need 6 different varieties next year? Add a note to your inventory worksheet! How many different types of Basil seeds are in your seed stash?
If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!
TIP: Stocking up on seeds for SHTF only works if you're actively growing and rotating seeds!
Please don't fall for the "lasts indefinitely" claim from most survival seed companies. Seeds most definitely have a shelf life (even in mylar bags). No one grows a perfect garden every year so if you're planning on growing, PRACTICE is essential.
There are many reason to be prepared and not all of them are a complete collapse of our system. Sickness, loss of a job or a reduction in wages are just a few very personal reasons to prepare for the unexpected.
Being prepared doesn't necessarily need to be for TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it).
Natural Disasters, as we've seen in recent months, are another VERY important reasons to be prepared. Due to our aging infrastructure and roadways, emergencies can stall the delivery of goods, leaving a community without food for a given period of time. While the recent hurricanes and wildfires have wiped out many people's gardens, their gardening experience cannot be taken away.
-Find out what grows best in your area and when to plant for your region.
-Timing is everything! If you're in a very HOT climate, usually summer is not the time to plant. If you're in a cool or cold climate, it is best to plant indoors to get a jump on planting season and/or provide a greenhouse to extend your growing season.
-Learn to Save Seeds! FIRST and most important: Seed Saving from your own harvest is preferred. Store bought produce can be GMO or even hybrid. Even organic store bought can be hybrid. Hybrid seeds can be sterile and will not produce true offspring from saved seeds. Open-pollinated, heirloom seeds will grow seeds that can be saved and re-planted year after year. Read Seed Saving Part 1
Don't Wait until it's Too Late
As we mentioned above,
"No one grows a perfect garden every year so if you're planning on growing, PRACTICE is essential."
Learn to grow the foods that you eat regularly. Canning and preserving those foods would be the next step in being more self-reliant. You'll find that growing food takes a bit of patience and knowledge of soil, sun and water. If you have clay soil you mid need to amend with compost. If you have rocky soil you may need to grow in raised beds. These are things you'll learn as you grow.
We offer 3 new videos about using Compost and Manure to amend your soil and these resources are FREE!
Beans - Easy to grow and preserve. Beans are very high in fiber, calcium, Vitamins A, C, and K
Spinach -Cold hardy and prolific. Many call this a superfood based upon its large array of vitamins such as Vitamin A, C, iron, thiamine, thiamine, and folic acid. Potassium
Carrots - Another hardy crop that requires very little space. This root crop is a good source of carbohydrates, vitamin A, vitamin C
Squash - Both squash and pumpkin are prolific producers.Both store well, especially winter squash. Seeds can be saved and/or roasted and consumed. Squash has lots of carbohydrates and a great nutrient list, including Vitamins A and C, as well as magnesium and potassium.
Beets - Easy to grow and multi-functional.Both roots and greens are edible making beets a dual purpose crop.
Tomatoes - If you can keep your pest issues to a minimum, tomatoes can produce an abundance of food from a relatively small space. Tomatoes are a good source of Vitamin A, C, K, E, Potassium, thiamine, and Niacin
Broccoli - Another cool weather crop. Broccoli is a good source of protein, Vitamins A and K, and carbohydrates
Peppers - From a medicinal view, peppers such as cayenne are essential for natural remedies. Peppers are high in vitamin A and C
Eggplant - Not something most people would think to grow but still an important one.Eggplant is relatively easy to grow and can grow for 3 or more years.Bonus, it's pretty easy to save seeds from Eggplant
Asparagus - An essential perennial. Depending on your region, established Asparagus plants can continue to produce for 30 years (some report for longer)
Amaranth - Another dual purpose plant. Amaranth is naturally drought tolerant. Seeds from the amaranth can be used as a grain (cook just as you would quinoa). Leaves can be picked while young and tender and eaten raw or sauteed as you would spinach.
Radish - If you need a FAST maturing crop, radish is one of the best. From seed to harvest, radish is mature in as few as 25 days. Seeds are easy to save from crops and just as easy to stockpile.
Corn - I know I mention grain below but Corn deserves a specific mention. While corn might not be the easiest crop to grow, it has many uses. Most people automatically think of Sweet Corn. However, Dent Corn & Field Corn are important. Both can be dried and fed to livestock. It can also be dried and ground into cornmeal.
Grains - If you have livestock on your homestead, grains can help feed them. Grains are a good source of carbohydrates, are high in dietary fiber and manganese
HERBS: Natural pest control can be obtained thru companion planting with herbs. If you're planning on making your own herbal remedies, medicinal herbs are a must.
Potatoes - *Keep in mind, seed potatoes do not keep.* You must continually replentish your stock from your own crops (or Mary's Heirloom Seeds as long as we have internet). Potatoes are a staple diet of many of the world’s peoples, especially those in the west. The contain potassium, copper and B6 and are really good to ‘fill you up’ at mealtime. They are also usually pretty easy to grow, although some varieties are very disease prone.
I hope you have enjoyed another educational article. if you have additional questions, please leave a comment below or send an email to email@example.com
Wondering what to get the gardener - foodie - eco activist - homesteader - homeschooler - teacher - adventurer in your life? We have something for just about everyone from beginner garden grow kits to sprouting kits and homesteader packs.
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4 pages of educational handouts with information about Growing from seeds and Bee-Friendly gardening
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Organic, Heirloom, Non-GMO Seeds: Atomic Red Carrot, Little Gem Lettuce, Roma Tomato, Blue Lake Bush Beans, Lacinato Kale (aka Dino Kale), Marketmore Cucumber, Early Scarlet Globe Radish and Black Beauty Zucchini
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Includes 10 varieties of organic, non-GMO seeds (25 seeds per pack), Coconut Coir seed starting pellets, Plant Markers, organic plant food and detailed growing instructions
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8 ounces Organic Plant Food 3-4-4
Options: 24 Coconut Coir Pellets OR 50 Coconut Coir Pellets
Our Survival Seed pack. In the last few months, many of our friends and customers have asked for our recommendations for the best Seeds for Survival. We've created this pack from Mary's Green Machine, Mary's Garden and our Medicinal Herb pack combos with a few extras added for your benefit.
A TOTAL OF 35 INDIVIDUAL SEED PACKS (a bonus savings of $15 before the 10% off)
Ball Heritage Collection QUART size Purple jar Excellent option for Seed Storage Custom time tested ceiling compound help ensure a quality seal with each lid New brushed silver design on the outside lid matched kitchen designs **Includes Lid**
We've had quite a few request about what to do with left over seeds. At Mary's Heirloom Seeds, a packet of Snowball Self-Blanching Cauliflower contains 200 heirloom seeds. If you don't plant all 200, You can share them with your friends and family or you can store them for next season/year.
For the best germination rates, try to use all stored flower and vegetable seeds the next growing season. Seed health and viability goes down the longer the seeds are stored. How long can seeds be stored?
From ehow, "Seed health and viability goes down the longer the seeds are stored. If you must store seeds longer, keep in mind that most types of seeds last approximately 3 to 5 years for optimal germination. For flowers, annuals typically last anywhere from one to five years, while perennial seeds can get stored for two to four years. Regardless of the type of seed, the sooner it gets planted, the better.
If you plan to save your own seeds they should be from produce that is very ripe but not rotten. Remember, cross-pollination is always a possibility when/if you plant in close proximity.
Seed saving is easy for varieties that "bolt" (flower and go to seed) such as Basil, Dill and Cilantro. Allow the seeds to fully dry and store accordingly.
Storage Options If you save seeds from your own produce, seeds should be completely cleaned and dry before storing.
Paper is the best storage option for seeds. Packets should be labelled with date of storage and variety of seed.
If you are storing purchased seeds they have already been cleaned. If possible, store seeds in their original packaging to avoid mixing up seed varieties.
Excessive heat, light and moisture can damage seeds and make them less viable. Some people store their seeds in the refrigerator and that's just fine. I prefer a cabinet or closet (not in the garage, around the oven or above the refrigerator. Store seed packets in a glass jar and keep in a cool, dry, dark place.
The purple jars are a bit darker than the regular jars and they're super easy to label. Check em out at Mary's Heirloom Seeds, Heritage Collection Seed Saver Jars! We've added a few new, medicinal varieties this past month. Have you seen em?