Garden of Eatin' / Seeds & Seedlings

Some Seed Inspiration For You

Seed packets

If this week’s post on seed starting in the summer didn’t get you all jazzed, maybe this will spark just a little inspiration!

Last week, as I do every year, I made an inventory of all my seeds… sprawled in the living room, taking stock of all the varieties, categorizing and even color-coordinating. Call it my inner OCD at work. I feel a strange satisfaction seeing all my tomatoes arranged from Black Cherry to White Duggin and all shades in between. (As I’ve come to realize, oddly, I have very few red tomatoes but plenty in black, pink, orange, green, and white… even stripes!)

I’ve also collected quite a few seeds on my own, saving my favorites to grow year after year. There is something so comforting about having a personal seed vault of sorts. Just in that little $2 packet exists a lifetime of food security and self-sufficiency; and while I’m far from being self-sufficient, being able to walk into a store to buy only meat and dairy is a very empowering feeling.

I store my seeds in old ammo boxes stashed in the walk-in closet, where it’s always at least 10°F colder than the rest of the house. At current count there are just over 200 varieties of vegetables, herbs and flowers, mostly heirlooms, with another 100 on order this week. And I’ve grown almost every single variety I own. What can I say? I’m obsessed with seeds.

Ammo boxes filled with seed packets

Heirloom seed collection

Seeds stored in vintage ammo boxes

I love pulling out these boxes every spring and summer, flipping through the packets and choosing what to sow in the garden. I love trying new varieties I’ve never seen before, from countries I’ve never visited but somehow, somewhere, these seeds have crossed the oceans and passed many hands before making it into mine.

In 10, 20, even 30 years, I’ll still be saving some of my favorite seeds. I’ll hand them down to family and friends, and maybe those will be passed off to strangers. And who knows, those same seeds might make it back around the world to some other garden in the future, spawning a new generation of seed collectors.

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • Karen
    January 16, 2014 at 10:34 am

    When you buy a packet of seeds, will they still be viable for the following season if you don’t use them all? Thanks for your help!

    • Linda Ly
      January 16, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      Most seeds will keep for at least a year if stored properly (cooler temps are best), but different varieties may remain viable only 1-2 years while others have up to 5 years.

  • mistiaggie
    August 11, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Great idea! We were looking for a full card catalog but those are expensive, however someone on Craigslist had a couple blocks of them so we got those. So far they are working great…but I do like your idea.

    • Linda Ly
      August 11, 2013 at 4:24 pm

      I love the idea of using card catalogs as storage! Wish I had room in my office for a whole wall of it as a knickknack drawer.

  • denise
    August 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    look at you – well done!

  • Julie
    August 7, 2013 at 8:47 am

    You’re a woman after my own heart! What a wonderful way to save seeds . . . Love the ammo boxes! Dah, I never thought of putting my seeds in categories. Seeing yours has inspired me!

    Sure wish I could actually see the names on your seed packets. I live west of Phoenix in zone 9b. It’s about time to begin my seeds for our fall and winter garden.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Linda Ly
      August 7, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      You can see a current list of what I’m growing in my garden right now: … I update it a few times a year! (And it was actually just updated this week… more to be added soon as I finish my fall planting.)

  • Randy
    August 7, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Nice Seed collection, do you save your own seeds?


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