I have transplanted most of the seedlings that I started earlier.
Today I did 64 mostly tomato plants. Since I usually manage to get
them mixed up I adapted the method that someone here described a few
weeks, marking a start corner and the doing a grid, A thru L and 1
thru 6. Then making a chart listing what is in A1 or c6. I made a
chart using graph paper. I was careful and since all but one row in
each of the boxes were tomatoes I put another kind of plant in a row
so that if the tray tag got lost or switched I would be able to figure
out which tray is which.
The graph paper can be made for free here:
I used an asymmetric plan so my charts matched my trays.
I'm golden if I don't lose my charts.
That was probably me. The "home" marker identifies the flat (so
"2012-03-22-A" would be the first flat seeded today for instance, if
I'm seeding several. I usually omit hypens though.
I did that the first year or two that I employed the technique, but
after that, just went to listing them on lines in a journal (easy to
do on the computer too).
Tomatoes - 20120209
row # per seed ID / Variety
A 3 SD-2008-021 Amish Brandywine
B 3+ SD-2010-034 Black Cherry
Emptied the container.
Seed very humid
C 3+ SD-2010-035 Lemon Boy
D 3 SD-2009-018 Sweet 100
E ? Yellow Pear (2009)
Off paper towel
F SD-2009-024 Big Rainbow
G1-4 2 Ferry-Morse Black Krim
G5-6 1 Wapsipinicon Peach
H 2 Cooks San Marzano
I 2 Cherokee Purple
J 1 Johnny's Moskvitch
K 2 Paul Robeson
L1-3 2 Creme Brulee
L4-6 2 White Wax
etc. I often note number of seeds per cell - "3ea" or "4+" or
somesuch. If there's a seed quality concern, I also note that, as it
can explain poor germination. "seem moist", "dry", "light".
The "SD-xxxx" are labels on the seed containers I store saved seed in
- unique identifiers for every container. When I have poor
germination, I take them out of inventory.
It is easy to search for a specific variety by searching the journal
document. A spreadsheet program (i.e. Excel) is invaluable as an
And, since I'm self-diagnosed OCD, I sometimes (er, more often than
not) note germination success by date (and may have more than one seed
seeded). It's sort of like tallying, but I'm noting the cell number
'x' times based on how many things are germinated there.
An actual cut-n-paste from a tomato germination tray:
Several weeks ago:
5 A 34444
7 B 3333455
0 C -
22 D 1122223333344444555566
6 E 233356
18 F 111222333444555666 100% germ!
8 G 23344556
8 H 22344556
11 I 11223344566
4 J 3456
8 K 12233456
5 L 22344
16 A 1112334444555666 Lost 23
17 B 11133333455666666 Lost 22
0 C -
25 D 1111222233333344444555566
10 E 2333445666
15 F 111223344555666 Lost 234
10 G 1123445566 Lost 3
9 H 223445566
11 I 11223344566
4 J 3456 Lost 2
12 K 111223334556
11 L 11224445666 Lost 3
Yea, that's 140 tomato plants, I may tease some out and replant in
newspaper pots. I note losses - usually individual seedlings which
shrivelled up, though sometimes damaged because I did something stupid
like trying to pry off a seed pod stuck to a leaf. They're noted in
tally form as well.
Note the _ZERO_ germination of the Lemon boy (C) - I've decommissioned
that cylinder of saved seed. The Black Cherry (B), despite having
been noted as very humid, had very good germination success (though I
have no idea if the plants themselves will be robust or not).
Moskvich seems like a low germination rate when you look at the table,
but then noting that because I'd used up the last of my seed, there
was only 1 seed per cell, still managed a 66% germination rate, which
on the surface isn't great -- but I checked my records (an Excel
spreadsheet in which I inventory all my seeds, sources, etc), and
those were seeds packaged for 2007. 66% germination from seeds
marketed for use five years ago ain't at all bad.
(I'm trying to get Baker Creek to carry Moskvich - they're wonderful
early, cool tolerant tomatoes)
Smart. You can also put tape (or a mailing label) on the side of home
cell, or do any number of things to identify it. Best to do this
BEFORE you start planting of course, and check that it's the home
Another approach is to seed a different number of seeds in some cells,
just ensuring you don't do it symmetrically. When the second row (or
group) has several cells with four seedlings in them, you can be
pretty sure that it's not the second from last, which had only 2 seeds
per cell. That allows you to stick to one class of plants in all the
cells, which can be beneficial if you're planting into the burstable
packs (the germination trays that are perforated to 6 or 9 cell
Where I'm dealing with burstables, I assign a letter to each pack, and
number the cells across and down, as I expect to plant the same type
of plant in each burstable pack. For example (best viewed with a
The lettered cells here are oviously cell #5, but the idea is to show
how these 9-packs are numbered as an example. I don't use a lot of
burstable packs though (I don't operate a nursery selling plants) - I
have several hundred (!) of the non-perforated 72-cell trays stored
under my barn, and only use 4-6 of them in a season (and even those
These are merely ideas, not hard and fast rules. As always, use what
works for you.
Graph paper can be useful for laying out plantings - such as
diagraming your garden space.
You can go paperless and tabulate your plantings using a spreadsheet
application (which, conventiently letters the columns, and numbers the
rows), using cut-n-paste to pop variety names into the different
cells, and you can update that later with germination dates if you're
so inclined. You can still print these out on a dead tree
(compostable!), with the benefit that the data should be very legible
compared to most peoples handwriting.
I just needed a way to track which seedlings are which since most
tomato seedlings look alike. I have a program that tracks my inventory
of seeds from purchase to harvest. I know where I got them, date and
price. It also tracks the number on hand if it is possible to count
the seeds. I can set up a plan of how many seeds I want to plant and
when. When I actually plant the seeds then I can track planting date,
first germination, last germination, plant out, and maturity. There
is also a log section to track where the seeds were planted,
container, soil and the same information about transplanting. You can
also track the level of germination. Then there is a section for
I can go to the log and see the information for back years. When did
I plant, etc.
Unfortunately the company is out of business and the program requires
a license which includes name and address. I keep my original file
and license number very safe and several copies after a computer crash
and I had problems getting it going again.
I also use a spreadsheet to track the harvest of tomatoes. Each time
we pick I record the amount of each variety. I can then tell you how
much we picked total each day, how much of each variety and average
per plant for the season. Last year I decided that I was not going to
plant as many varieties so I looked at the last several years to see
what produced well and what didn't. Then I thought about what we used
each variety for. So I planted 30 Viva Italia which I use for canning
and six each of Better Boy, Brandy Boy, Early Girl, Jelly Bean and
Yellow Jelly Bean. I probably will not set out all of the slicers or
jelly beans. I also planted some Window Box Roma.
My garlic, planted last fall, is looking good. The beets, and onions
are also looking good. I can start picking some small spinach leaves
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.