In the peak seed-harvesting season, my kitchen quickly becomes a mess of unlabeled bowls and containers, with drying flower heads turned every which way, masses of mysterious pods and vats filled with fermenting fruits, like tomatoes. Usually, I’m the only person who really has a handle on what is what. Once seeds are processed—be that by drying, winnowing, fermenting, depulping or shelling—there is the eternal question of storage. This is not only a question of space, but also a question of temperature, light and moisture, all of which factor in to the longer-term viability of the seeds.
For the past few years, I’ve been using sandwich bags, envelopes and all sorts of recycled containers to store my collection: hastily-written notes about the cultivar have been scrawled with a Sharpie wherever possible. I’ve had a seed binder, which quickly turned into a seed shoebox and then into a plastic seed tub.
This year, I decided to overhaul my seed collection. Being both an avid collector and swapper of seeds, I opted to manufacture a more uniform solution to my packaging mayhem.
Custom seed envelopes are not a new product by any means. Burgon and Ball makes a fine set, complete with a tin in which seeds can be stored away from the elements. I’m also far from the only Etsy seller making seed envelopes. My salient point, however, is this: The lessons I’ve learned from saving and storing my own seeds over the years have gone into making a stationary solution that works for me and is easy for you to replicate at home.
Firstly, I have used glassine envelopes as the first line of protection for self-harvested seeds. Glassine is a pH-neutral, water- and grease-resistant material, and being translucent, it prevents seeds from being lost in dark corners of a packet.
Secondly, I have created an exterior envelope that shields out light.
Using custom stamps, I created fields on the front that allow me to document the information on the plant and when the seeds were harvested.
On the back, I can record germination information, as with a commercial seed packet. All of the materials are easy to find to make your own seed-saving envelopes of a uniform size and quality; barring that, I also offer my envelopes for sale, as do many other gardening businesses, large and small.
Any way you go about it, investing in a solution that allows for seeds to be accessed like a card catalogue saves time, energy and space.
About the Author: Lynsey Grosfield is the founder of BiodiverSeed, a global seed swap network devoted to the exchange of self-harvested, organic and heirloom seeds with the goal of preserving maximum genetic diversity. Follow BiodiverSeed on Twitter.