When Bad Things Happen to Good Seeds

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When Bad Things Happen to Good Seeds

Sometimes disaster strikes your seed collection when you least expect it. Only a few days ago, my older son and I sorted out our seed collection by variety. Just yesterday I doled out extra seeds I had to those I knew could use them. When I went to bed, I had a well-organized stash of over 100 seed packets, all ready to go for the spring. I wouldn’t have to buy a thing.

Disaster can strike your seeds when you least expect it. Maybe you had an earthquake or tornado that destroyed all your packets. Maybe you have a toddler.

But as I said, sometimes disaster strikes. Maybe you had an earthquake or tornado that destroyed all your packets. Or maybe you have a toddler…

I woke this morning to my toddler son standing on a kitchen chair, finishing off the very last packet. He stood there with seeds scattered all around. I was angry. I was heartbroken. Some of these treasured seeds came from dear friends and family. Some were seeds that I had saved from last year’s garden. Needless to say, most could not be replaced with a trip to the garden center.

All Hope May Not Be Lost

The first thing to do is stop crying. You don’t want to germinate the seeds with your tears. Sweep up your seeds and dump the dust pan onto a white surface. I used a large sheet of poster board. Separate out the torn packets from the loose seeds.

Disaster can strike your seeds when you least expect it. Maybe you had an earthquake or tornado that destroyed all your packets. Maybe you have a toddler.

If you are lucky, a few seeds may be trapped in the corners of the paper packets. You can use these to identify what should have been in there. I started with the kale because I knew they were round and black and that description fit with the few seeds in the corner of one of the packets. I went through all the loose seeds and collected all that looked the same. Now, I have no idea what type of kale I’m putting in the new packet that I printed out, but at least I know which vegetable it is.

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Don’t Get Discouraged

I’ll be honest, this is not a fun chore. It’s long and tiring, and you’ll find yourself constantly second-guessing which seed is which. The good news is that you should be able to tell while it’s a seedling if it’s wrong. You may even be able to identify the variety before it goes in the ground. For example, the colors of Swiss Chard will start to show while it’s still very young. One way or another, your seeds should still stand a chance to provide for your family. Maybe you can even use this disaster as a learning opportunity for your kids, identifying the mystery plants in the spring.

Do you have any tricks for identifying seeds? I’d love to hear your ideas as I go back to sorting through the seed pile.

Disaster can strike your seeds when you least expect it. Maybe you had an earthquake or tornado that destroyed all your packets. Maybe you have a toddler.

 

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I am a non-traditional homesteader. What is a non-traditional homesteader? I'd like to think we are the people who don't fit the mold. I am a busy mom on a small bit of property with not a lot of financial resources, but I am figuring out how to live the life I want. A homesteader's life.

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Comments

When Bad Things Happen to Good Seeds — 10 Comments

  1. So sad – I understand how frustrated and angry you must have ben,but how nice for your little boy that you didn’t lash out at him, after all toddlers are known for their curiosity. Rare seeds =seeds passed down from generation should probably be treated as we would a precious jewel-out of sight-maybe even locked up. or put up high. Some of the seed you might be able to replace through “Seed Savers” if you know the name or relatives or gardening friends.

  2. Does not sound good but sorting is better than nothing. A few years ago I had moved across country. MI to OR. I had my sister send my seed stash through the mail to my new home. The box arrived —empty with a note from the postal service saying that they had to open it to look for contraband. Ha! Oh well the seeds that were saved from great grandpa on down – many very rare family heirlooms were now gone and no recourse. Made me sick.

  3. The scramble might make it difficult to observe companion planting principles, but thankfully your little one did not eat the seeds. Just a thought: Would seed savers’ exchanges have a forum where you could ask the community about sites with pics of seeds (pharmaceuticals have such resources with pics of pills)? Or if you remember most of the varieties you had, you could try googling, for instance, “kale seed:image”? (Adding the :image component calls up photos of the item designated.)

  4. Maybe you could just plant them all around mixed up and see what happens? It would be a fun adventure??? Having a house full of toddlers, I can totally empathize with your broken heart. 🙁 Fer realz!

  5. Oh my gosh, my heart is in my throat after reading this! You will be laughing about this with your little boy in years to come…and honestly, just the fact that he is exposed to seed-saving like this is a HUGE accomplishment on your part. Priceless, really! Kudos for keeping such a great attitude and salvaging what you can. When spring comes you’ll have fun identifying those mystery seedlings. 🙂

  6. I’ll never forget the year the turkeys ate my sunbathing trays of seed starts. Two months work just gone. I actually caught my breath when I read what happened to your seeds and I’m so sorry! Fortunately, food is food so you’ll get something cool when you plant. That’s one of those defining mommy moments, too – where you look back and hope you didn’t loose it altogether. I usually don’t have the satisfaction in knowing I didn’t loose it.

  7. No tricks but I’m so sorry for you. We had this happen with our seed starts last year, only it was the wind that blew 5 trays over. I called it my mystery garden :-).

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