going to seed

tips for tuesday
notes from maggie's farm

Plant the seeds of your dreams and weed all the objections out.

Mary Anne Radmacher

Without a little bit of care and organization, this business of farming can 'go to seed', literally and figuratively, pretty quickly.  While garden plots either flourish under the caring hand of the gardener, or 'go to seed' from neglect, so, too, the systems by which we attempt to organize.  In order to utilize them properly, we find that they must be simple, and it helps us, because we like pretty, if the system is somewhat personal, and attractive.

Beginning, today, with seed-saving, we're looking forward to sharing the gardening organization tools that work for us, and we'd be thrilled to hear from you, too!  We're an ever-evolving work in progress, and we love to learn from the experts--not the fancy magazines and gardening shows that have big budgets and big budget staffs, but you readers-- real gardeners that spend time in your own gardens, developing proven ways of making the job as easy as possible.

Seed Saving: Quick tips for saving your garden favorites
Basic Seed Saving: International Seed Saving Institute

While we've operated for a few years like this:  

it has not served us as well as it could.  We've experienced seeds lost, seeds unidentified, varieties undocumented, dates unregistered. We've had to dig through, and in the process, lose, scads of seeds and rather than efficient and thrifty, it's been a waste of time and effort. This year, we've begun to save precious seed in their own pretty little packets that protect our efforts, preserve our bounty for another season, and collect planting and growing information all in one easy-to-find location--the packet itself.

We began with a packet template just like this one. After a little careful cutting, folding, and gluing, we embellished our packets with vintage garden catalogue images, you may wish to use simple graphics, or hand-lettering and an illustration for your own.  We then recorded seed details on the back.  We even print out a little slip with additional information, and slip it into the packet with seeds.  For example, Seed Savers Exchange shares in-depth information about Arugula, as well as many more seed varieties, beyond basic growing directions:
Arugula (Eruca sativa) - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors as soon as soil can be worked and danger of hard frost has passed. Plant seeds 1" apart and ¼" deep. Seeds will germinate in 5-7 days. Thin to 1-6" apart. For a continuous supply of arugula, sow every three weeks throughout the summer. Best grown in cooler weather. Plant in full sun or partial shade.
Seed Saving: Arugulas will cross-pollinate. Separate varieties by ¼ mile. Allow plants to bolt and form seed stalks. Seed heads may need to be protected from bird damage and rain when drying on the plants. Seeds are produced over a 2-3 week period and will require repeated harvesting.

Glue the top flap closed and store in a cool, dark, dry location.  For best results, grow saved seed the following season.  

Beyond your own seed saving needs, consider a few packets bundled together with a bow as a useful and welcome gift to the favorite gardeners in your life.

"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed.  Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders."
-  Henry David Thoreau

If you're new to seed saving, or need more information about the seeds you purchase, don't miss Seed Savers Exchange, full of great information, and source of a wide array of tested seed.

Join us tomorrow, on (Almost) Wordless Wednesday for photos of vintage seed catalogues to use for your own seed packets, and other gardening crafts.


  1. Great info-I had no idea about the seed savers. Personally I have left the seeds to Bob all these years. But maybe it's time start organizing some of my favs. Thanks for all the tips.

    1. I started small, with just seeds from the varieties that tasted the best, and thrived. It's still experimenting for me--every year is! lol

  2. Great post. Love Seed Savers Exchange. I practically sleep with it under my pillow when it arrives. Your vintage garden pictures are so pretty.

    Thank you for the invite on Saturday. I might attend the Day Lily society show in the morning and meet up with you guys in the afternoon. Can't have you guys so close and not meet you:)

    1. I'm going to send you a link to the event page, which has the itinerary, and then you can decide where you'd like to meet us. http://afba.ticketbud.com/sa2012?ALIM
      I'll email my phone number, too. Hope you can join us somewhere along the day!


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