Every year, it’s the same problem, “What seeds did I buy last year?” I have yet to meet a person that only buys exactly what they need. But most people forget what they purchased last year, if they liked it, how much they still have, etc. Every gardener, farmer, or homesteader, needs a seed inventory. There are about a million ways to create a seed inventory, from paper to digital to mental. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter HOW you keep track of your seeds, as long as you do it. Today, I want to show you how and why I have a digital seed inventory and how you can do it too.
Before we get too far into this post, I wanted to give a suggestion about keeping a garden journal. A digital garden journal is a fantastic way to keep track of past, present and future gardens. Our Digital Garden Journal is a great way to keep up with everything without getting too overwhelmed.
Why A Seed Inventory
I want to say this first, you don’t have to have a digital seed inventory. In fact, if you want to keep it old school with a pen and paper? Go right ahead. I’m not here to judge. I just want you to be able to keep track of your seeds. In my garden planner, I’ve got several charts that help me track everything from seeds/seedlings, orchard information, pests, and more. This is my printed planner that helps me keep track when out in the garden. But I prefer my digital seed inventory for a lot of reasons.
First, when I order seeds, I am on my computer. Rarely, if ever, do I go into a store and buy seeds that I NEED. Those seeds are the seeds I saw and thought, “Hmm, that looks interesting.” And they get thrown in my cart. The seeds I need for my garden are bought online. That’s because I know exactly what I need, the amount I need, and I can usually get better deals that way.
Second, it helps me save a TON of money. I am an impulse buyer. No matter what I try to do to stop that, I am going to see something and snatch it up because it looks cool, could solve my problem and so much more. But the reality is that having a digital seed inventory on my phone tells me EXACTLY what I have on hand, and which storage bin it’s in.
Third, it helps me keep track of start times, harvests, and more. I enjoy being able to quickly look back at a seed in my inventory and see that it germinated well, produced a ton, and, probably most importantly, how many seeds I have on hand right NOW.
One of our five year goals is to feed ourselves and animals 75% from our land. That’s a ton of food. But to get to that goal, I need to make sure that I am only buying or saving the seeds that I know will work.
Creating A Digital Seed Inventory
A simple spreadsheet is really all you need. It can be as fancy and in depth or as simple as you want. My seed inventory is pretty in depth because I want to make sure that I can track as much information as possible. But sometimes there is a need for simplicity and I that is where my garden journal comes in.
If you are choosing to start your own digital seed inventory, then you need to write down the things that you want to track. Do you care what color the pepper is? Do you care if it’s a transplant or direct sow? Where you bought the seeds?
You also need to think about how you are going to access it when the time comes. Are you only going to use it at home? Then it probably doesn’t need to be web based. Are you looking for seeds from a local farmers market? Probably should be web based like Google Sheets.
Make sure that the things you want to know are easily accessible within that spreadsheet.
If you aren’t quite sure what you want in your spreadsheet, I have my digital seed inventory that you can purchase in our general store. This is the same one I use. The cool thing about it, is that while it is in depth, you can delete the things that you don’t want or need.
Need Help Organizing Your Seeds?
In my digital seed inventory, the first column is “location”. Pro tip? Get yourself a couple of photo storage bins like this and put your seeds in it! This is seriously the best garden purchase I have made to date. These storage bins have 18 4×6 storage containers.
On the outside of the bin, I write which bin it is A, B, C, etc. On the inside 4×6 bins, I write A1, A2, A3, etc of the corresponding bin. This way when I look at my inventory, I can see that corn seeds are in bins C12-C18. That way when I go to plant that corn, I don’t have to go find it, lug out a million seed packets, and risk losing a couple packets. This has been my hack for the last 10 years and I will always use it.
No matter if you are using a box to store your seeds, a pen and paper to keep track of how many seeds you have, or going all digital and super organized. The reality is that if you are buying seeds, using them and growing food? You’re doing pretty amazing!