Planting vintage garden seeds

I’ve made it a goal this year to use up old vegetable seed. I’m sowing it pretty thick since some of it is ancient and germination rates should be down. If nothing sprouts or it all rots in the rain it’s no big deal. I’m just happy to get rid of the packets clogging up my veggie seed box.

I call the picture below my “2009 garden row.” I’ve heard it was a good year for … um … carrots. Obviously, the 2009 vintage of carrots was so sought after that you can no longer find them in stores. So I’ve heard.

I’ve also decided to skip the metal garden label stakes we have and just use split cedar shingles with permanent marker labeling. I’ve found that the wood stakes last longer in the rain than masking tape labels on the metal stakes. What do you all use for garden row labels?

I’m actually really excited because I feel so prepared for this garden year. Not that I am of course, but because I went through my Maritime Northwest Garden Guide to find what I can plant this month. Then I sorted through my garden seed, picked out those varieties, and labeled my stakes. All I need now is prepared garden beds and I’m set.

If you live in the Northwest and you haven’t heard of Maritime Northwest Garden Guide, I strongly recommend it. It is one of my two favorite gardening books, Steve Solomon’s Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades being the other. What I LOVE about this book is it provides month by month planting guides with lists of vegetable, so you know what you should be planting or starting under cover at any given time. I don’t have a good memory for this sort of thing, so the book is my yearly reference. It also calms Lee down when he is pestering me about whether I have planted cucumbers or broccoli yet. I can pull out this book and tell him I DON’T have to do it, because it’s not listed for this month. Basically, it’s a marital gardening life saver. hehe

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9 Responses to Planting vintage garden seeds

  1. Snowbrush says:

    I know that Lee has a remarkably good handwriting, so is that your writing or his?

  2. becky3086 says:

    I don’t use anything to mark my garden. I try to write down on a garden plan where I put everything but it mostly gets forgotten and then I have no idea what is planted where, lol. I have no guide. I use the weather as a guide since it changes every year.

    • robin says:

      I wrote a garden plan down once and then I’ve never done it again since. Lee is always after me to make better notes but somehow I never get around to it. I do try to label stuff because otherwise I would have no idea what I planted. lol

  3. Ron says:

    I like your cedar marker idea!

    I always cut up old plastic containers and write with permanent marker on them. That works fine when they are seedlings… but the sun tends to wipe out the writing in the garden. By the end of the season, I have no idea what is what.

    I always tell myself that I’ll get better at marking and tracking varieties. But the reality is that I get worse at it… this year I didn’t even bother to put my plastic labels in the ground when I transplanted. I know things are grouped together, but I have no idea which variety is which.

    I do want to get better, though, since I have observed some big differences between varieties of the same thing. One thought I had was to make a “key” of sorts… and cut shapes out instead of writing. Not real convenient, but no worries about ink washing off or degrading that way. A person could maybe make them out of plastic but tie them on the shady side of the plant so they last for the season.

    I wondered why I had pretty poor germination of some of my onions this year, until I looked at the packet and it was marked for 2005. ­čÖé

    • lee says:

      I’m glad to hear that we aren’t the only ones bad at keeping gardening records. We even bought a notebook to use as the official “Gardening Notebook” and it’s never been written in. Every year I say, “We’re going to keep good records this year,” but we never do. Tomatoes are especially frustrating, because we’ve had some varieties that were awesome and some that did nothing and we have no idea which were which.

      Interesting idea with the shape-based plant labels. That would certainly eliminate the ink-fading problem. You could also use some kind of punch card design I bet, perhaps encode the plant family and it’s variety into separate binary numbers. It would be like a geek filter for gardening. “I know these look like corn plants honey, but 10010110 is clearly of the genus Cucurbita …”

      It’s surprising that you got anything from 7 year old onion seed. Those are quite small seeds to have survived so long.

  4. we play the same guessing game as Ron..permanent markers that fade as the seasons progress..We can’t read them after they have faded in the sun..good thing we can tell the difference between a tomato and a cucumber! I like your idea. I also long for a flat piece of land like you have then rather than my undulating stump filled land! hehe

    • robin says:

      Hey, I have stumps too! I have a really annoying one I’ve been digging on for months right by our house. You have to be really careful not to fall in the hole when you walk by it to the car. It’s kind of like a burglar trap. Your place with all the trees is super pretty. Lee wanted some land that had a hill on it and a nice mountain view. We didn’t get that and he still laments over it.

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