Getting Ready to Sow

Whether you’re sowing one packet or dozens or hundreds, it just makes sense to make sure you have everything you need on hand so you can sow whenever the time is right.

Organizing Seeds for Sowing

If you plan to grow more than a few kinds of seed each year, I highly recommend creating some sort of list or chart of the seeds you have on hand for sowing. I have found it invaluable for staying organized, planning my sowing sessions, and keeping track of my sowing results.

Once I think I’m done most of my seed orders for the season, I make a chart of what I’ve purchased and which saved seeds I plan to sow. (I usually rummage through my box of old seeds once a year too, just to see what’s in there. I rarely sow entire packets of anything, so I have probably hundreds of partly-used packets. Most still germinate well even after 3 or 4 years, and I’ve had some sprout even after 8 or 9 years. It’s very helpful to have a backup supply like this in case one year’s sowing doesn’t make it to seed stage for some reason, or if I forget to buy new seeds of a must-grow.)

Gathering Other Supplies

Unless you’re sowing seeds directly in your garden, you’ll need some sort of growing medium and containers to put it in. I discuss that more in Sowing Seeds in Pots and Alternatives to Sowing in Pots.

Some kind of light source is important too, if you are starting your seeds indoors. A heat mat meant for seed-starting can be very useful for providing steady heat to keep the growing medium warm and encourage quick sprouting for heat-appreciating seeds. I will cover that in Let’s Get Sprouting! (coming soon).

Whether you sow indoors or outdoors, trust me: You need some kind of labels to indicate what, where, and when you sowed each kind of seed. I like to note the seed source too. You may think you’ll remember, but you won’t. Trust me on this!

I used to use plastic plant labels exclusively and still do reuse some old ones, but this year, I am trying wooden “craft sticks” (a.k.a. Popsicle or ice cream sticks) instead, writing on them with a fine-tipped permanent marker, and it seems to be working out well so far. They are easy to find (in craft stores or online), much less expensive than plastic labels, and biodegradable, which is ideal for annuals (no more picking up so many old bits of plastic at the end of the growing season). I still prefer pencil writing on plastic tags for seed pots that I know will be outside through the winter, or for many months, though, for more longer-lasting identification.