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.
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.
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.
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.