Seed Organization For Gardeners With Too Many Seeds

On Monday I talked about seeds for beginners. Well, after a season or two of growing from seed you may become (like many of the commenters on Monday’s post) a Gardener With Too Many Seeds.

You have become a G.W.T.M.S. when you have file boxes dedicated to your seeds and you debate with yourself every season how many mason jars should be dedicated to seed storage, and how many should be reserved for food preservation.

You will know you are a G.W.T.M.S when you look greedily at anyone who gets a new iPod dock for Chirstmas…not because you want their combo alarm clock/mp3 player, but because you saw two or three silica packets in the packaging and you want those suckers for stopping moisture build-up in seed storage.

Now, perhaps you will argue that one can never have too many seeds. After all, isn’t that like too much fun, or too much chocolate? In response I say: you have too many seeds when you have no idea what seeds you already have!

Many of us G.W.T.M.S. have excitedly ordered an amazing sounding varietal that we simply must try, only to discover that we bought the same varietal two years ago and never opened the package! I’m not judging. I know what it’s like to be a G.W.T.M.S. We’re all in the same boat here. The problem is, we have so much we don’t know exactly what we have.

But there is a solution, and it doesn’t have to involve tossing out precious seeds. See, according to the definition, as long as you know what seeds you have you can never have too many. And that’s where this database comes in. Keep this database up to date and you’ll have the organization in place to bypass seeds you really, truly don’t need (duplicates, etc.) and the freedom to add great finds to your collection without worry that you are wasting money.

Download in: Excel | Numbers (Mac OS) | PDF (Blank)

The database as downloadable is pre-filled in with a lot of the seeds I currently have on hand, so you’ll need to make it your own by imputing your own seed stash as appropriate. Once your info is in, you can sort by vegetable type, or expiration year, or stock status to keep the info you need at your fingertips.

It is a good idea to print out a copy of your database before you go to any nursery or seed swap. I’ve been known to tuck a copy into the Territorial Seed catalog just to help cut down on temptation.

How do you G.W.T.M.S. keep track of all you have?


  1. says

    You can still feel good about those duplicates or less exciting varieties you never plant by passing them on to a non GWTMS. Last year we organized a neighborhood seed exchange that was a big success.

  2. says

    I bought a 16 draw (plus two large bottom draws) library card file on Craig’s List for the purpose of seed storage. I have way to many to store them all in the ‘fridge. I’m justifying it by supplying seeds and starts to our church’s little community/demonstration garden.

    Hi, I’m Lily and I’m a G.W.T.M.S.

    No, I don’t really want to talk about it.

  3. Bruce says

    I think you have the wrong idea. I think G.W. T. M. S. actually stands for Growing Wisely Takes More Seeds.

    That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.


  4. says

    THANK YOU! I have been trying to use up all those seeds that I’ve bought and thought I might use, they just don’t last long enough! This year I just decided to plant all the pumpkin seeds that were lying around and I ended up with nearly 20 plants, opps!

  5. says

    Hi Erica, I’ve just filled in the seed inventory, its a great idea, thanks for publishing it! I’m feeling VERY organised right now! Actually I made a few changes that I thought you might be interested in, including filtering, auto calculating the expiry date, auto look up the seed life from another table and auto-format out-of-date seeds into orange font so you know to use them up asap. I’d be happy to share my version with you (and for you to publish it if you want to), let me know where to send it/put it if you are interested. Regards, Liz

    • Gina says

      Hi Erica and Liz.
      Erica- I stumbled across your blog while looking for seed inventory Excel templates. I just started as the garden/volunteer coordinator for a local non-profit, and we have binders full of seeds, with no organization. I knew there had to be something free and workable on the internet, so your seed inventory/planting guides (especially the year round garden guide) are a godsend! :)

      Liz- I am very interested in your updates to Erica’s inventory, as it will be a great tool to use up older seeds. However, the link here was dead and I couldn’t find it on your blog or pintrest page. Is it still available?

      Thanks again, ladies. You’ve saved me hours of unpaid work! :)
      Gina George

  6. says

    Love this. Fulfills my inner OCD needs. I had an easier solution last fall, I left my seed collection outside and it rained…rained big time. We found them all two days later…super sad day. Time to go seed shopping!

  7. Bonnie S says

    Looks similar to the spreadsheet I made up earlier this year in Google Docs. :-)

    The most important thing for me is making sure I don’t miss the dates they need to be started. No fun getting to August and realizing it’s too late to start a long-season warm-weather crop.

  8. says

    I know this post is from a while ago, but…awesome! I’m working on mine now, and accumulating a pile of expired seeds for my 5 year old to go wild with while I plant the other stuff.

    Between this and the garden journal, this will be my most organized gardening year EVER.

    Thanks for all you do!

  9. says

    Last year I started using a seed inventory table similar to your for organizing my seed stock, and now I don’t know how I managed to do without it. This year I started new inventory in January by printing out last year’s inventory, then going through all my seed to make sure I found everything that I have on my list. Saved so much time with this method!


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