I think maybe the greatest misconception among my readers is that I have my shit together. I do not.  My house is usually a mess, I own 17 pairs of safety glasses but can never find any of them,  and I recently turned down a date with a guy because his couch was ugly.  There was a picture of it on Facebook. He just wasn’t right for me, it never would have worked.  I just don’t see myself with someone who owns a velour puffy couch.

Also,  I often knowingly wear a shirt with a coffee stain on it, only to exclaim Oh! Look at that! I must have *just* done that!  when someone pointed it out to me later in the day.  I even pretend to try and blot it.

My shit is not together. My shit is all over the place.  Oh!   You too?  Yeah. None of us have our shit together, no matter what Instagram leads you to believe, so don’t worry about it.


My vegetable seeds for instance.  They were quite literally all over the place.  Some packets were in boxes, some were in bags, and some were in my secret hiding spot which is also apparently a secret from me.

Then out of the blue, like a strike of lightening, or more appropriately a strike of Luffah, I had it all figured out.  I needed to get my seeds out of their packets where I couldn’t see them and into glass vials.  Those vials would get put onto a small shelf I would built, organized according to vegetable type.

That was a stupid plan so I didn’t do it.

It was stupid because glass vials are see through (which I wanted) but seeds will last longer if they’re stored in the dark.

Plan B.  Don’t put the seeds on a shelf, put them in boxes, which will not only keep the seeds in the dark, but they portable for carrying back and forth to my 2 garden plots.



I found my little boxes at Dollarama in Canada, but most craft stores or dollar stores have these kind of boxes.  THEY ALREADY CAME WITH THE CHALKBOARD ON TOP.   I must have done something right in a previous life.


Look who’s still here!  Good for you.  Some of my best friends are mental.

Me?  I wanted these seed storage kits to make me smile every time I looked at them. Which I couldn’t do unless I tinkered with them a bit.


The first thing I did was add labels to all the vials, and used a different colour of magic marker for every seed type.  Red for tomato varieties, purple for radishes, green for greens and so on.  That way if I had a bunch of vials on the table I could quickly grab all the red ones without even having to look at the words on the labels and throw them in their “tomato” box.




These vials also came from Dollarama where they sell for $1.25 for 3.  You can buy almost the exact same ones on Amazon but they’re $4 for 3.  So unless you only need a few, try to find them at a local craft store.



I mean, come on.  Look at those little seeds.

The boxes were fine.  They weren’t perfect but they were fine.  I wasn’t in love with the brown elastic band/wood knob closing system.  They just, … they looked a bit too much like faces.




So I spent 14 hours on the Internet figuring out what the name of this type of flippy latch is so I could do an online search for those at my local hardware store.

If you ever want them, they’re called draw latches.  Or draw catches.  Not flippy latches.


You can get a set of 4 in chrome for $6.99 on Amazon.  Or a set of 2 in brass (like mine) for $11.

The other issue I had with using the boxes exactly as they were, was that my glass vials were a bit too tall for the lids to close.  If I laid the bottles down the lid would close, but I could fit WAY more into the box if I stood the bottles up.

So I bought a few extra boxes, took them apart and made one box out of two of the deeper box bottoms.  This gave me enough room to stand my bottles upright.



I didn’t double the size of all the boxes, just a few for the seeds I knew I had a ton of and needed to be able to fit a lot of vials in the box. Like tomatoes.  And salad greens.


All the other boxes just got new clasps, I filled in the holes where the elastic band originally was and in some of them I added a little sort of shelf so the bottles could lay back a bit.



That’s another place those extra boxes I bought came in handy. I took them apart and used parts of them for things like that little shelf.

I also glued some of them to the parts of the boxes the draw latch screwed into to allow more material for the screws to dig into.

No same person would do all this by the way.  Nor would they turn down someone of considerable wealth and kindness because their couch was ugly.  But there you have it.


Like I pointed out, I did something right in a previous life, because the boxes came with a piece of chalkboard on the lid.

Then I must have done something seriously wrong in a previous life because 2 days later I went back to this same Dollar Store and they had slightly larger boxes with … you guessed it … flippy latches.


But I can’t dwell on that sort of thing.

Need to know what’s in the box?  NO problem. It’s written on the lid.  Changing what’s inside the box?  NO problem.  Wipe off the lid and relabel it.  (the bigger boxes with the latch that I came across a couple of days later didn’t have the chalkboard on them)



Yeah, I know you’re wondering about this.  My sister gave me this silver chalk holder yearsssss ago.  But you guessed it … they sell them on Amazon for $5.  I love this thing.



I also love my seed kids kits.  Probably more than I should.  Like, probably I should save this kind of love for humans.







Part of what makes this system so good for anyone who gardens is the fact that you can look right at the bottle and see how many seeds you have.  And when the jar is empty you know you have to get more.


Finally. A seed saving system figured out.  It took me years but I got there.

I may have done it with a stain on my shirt … but I got there.

And you will too.


  1. Jan says:

    Super Nice!

  2. Mark says:

    Back in the day when schools only had blackboards (or progressive ones had the green chalkboards), my dad was a high school teacher and used one of those aluminum chalk holders… Since chalk dust is so fine, it is really hard on your skin.

    I love the idea of that pre-emptive coffee stained shirt strategy! Brilliant, that is!

    And so organized…. (head bowed in shame)….

  3. Karen says:

    Me too! I can’t even WAIT to start seeds this year, lol! Seriously! It’s like cooking with great bowls or pots. It’s just more fun with nice stuff. ~ karen!

  4. Claudia says:

    I’m a sucker for glass vials. Especially with the cork stoppers and the hand-written lables.
    Looks like a little pharmacy, retro style, by the way. Love it!

  5. Marsha Snodgrass says:

    I freaking love this! I plan to steal this ideal 🙂

  6. Karen says:

    That is quite literally what I’m here for Marsha. 🙂 Steal away. ~ karen!

  7. Melissa says:

    SO organized and SO cute!! (can seeds be ‘cute’??) Totally great idea, that I’m stealing, for when I get to my farm in a few weeks and start on my garden. Not that I know what I’m doing, but it’ll be organized anyway!

  8. Edith says:

    Great idea Karen!

    I love organizing things and solving storage problems. You did good!

  9. VICKI says:

    a work of art!!!

  10. MrsChris SA says:

    You are so damn smart!!

    Happy 2017 – not sure if I have said that yet – that is how organised I am at the moment!!!

    (Also still have not done the Avatar thing!)

  11. Sharon Grant says:

    Dollarama is heavenly 🙂

  12. Paula says:

    I love this! I currently use Lee Valley’s Seed keeper, which is good with extra pages but the packages are difficult to get in and out of their cells and you can’t see how many seeds you have left.

    I have so many seeds that this system should work beautifully. The vials that are tilted back look like my spice drawer in miniature. I will be hitting up Dollarama tomorrow. It’s not like I can do any outside gardening so this should help me get my fix.
    Thanks Karen

  13. Lorraine Binette says:

    Love this idea of the little bottles and boxes. Might copy this.

  14. Deborah says:

    I’m using this idea for my seed beads. Thanks

  15. JulieD says:

    Ah! The irony! But you’ve got some pretty cool boxes! Even though they had latched ones later, yours are better. And there’s something about all those little bottles that’s so doggone intriguingly beautiful.

  16. Raymonde says:

    Completely adorable!
    An ugly couch would be a deal breaker for me too…

  17. Laura says:

    Couches are a great metric for judging the quality of life a person strives for as are shoes. My husband had a very ugly couch and horrid shoes but is still the coolest person I ever met. Couch and shoes are gone!!!

  18. Jennifer Lee says:

    They look like an army, in ranks, marching forth to propagate and take over the world! Or at least your garden. And yes, Melissa, apparently seeds CAN be cute.

  19. Lind says:

    Bloody hell, that is brilliant. I am gobsmacked how you can turn what is usually our dog’s breakfast of seed storage into an aesthetic delight. mine is in a large three drawer filing cabinet with flowers in one, Feb march in the next and April in the bottom. It’s on casters so I can wheel it into the living room; sit in front of the fire and get sorting. Dull dull dull. I’m still on the lookout for one of those old wooden library card file systems where I can store seeds in little niches….

  20. Jani says:

    You always “seed” to amaze me with your talent and one of a kind projects!!

  21. TucsonPatty says:

    These are gorgeous! Makes me want to have seeds for a garden! That is seriously a lot of different seed bottles. Do you plant all of them every year? Were some of the bottle overfull? This is a plethora of seeds and such beautiful boxes, I was certain you had built them specifically for your project. i am in awe of your figuring-it-all-out skills! Happy planting.

  22. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    You are on a run with these brillant idea posts Karen! Keep them coming!

  23. Louise says:

    Good Lord, I think you need to use some of that energy to sort out the world!
    Just think how organized things would be. 🙂

  24. Catherine says:

    Your seed boxes are DIVINE. Seed storage envy is now a thing. I once turned down a fella for his blue suede loafers. He had really small feet (which obviously he could not help). But those feet clad in a blue lady shoe it was like I was dating a giant dolly. Shudder.

  25. Rene Walkin says:

    I love your seed boxes almost as much as you do-they are fabulous! Good job.

  26. Grammy says:

    I adore the cuteness of your seed collection, but think maybe you should give a second thought to turning down a date with a man of considerable wealth and kindness because of his couch.

    Forty years ago I started dating a man with abominable taste in furniture, and really no wealth to speak of, but he was handsome, kind, generous, and he made me laugh every day. Today, we are both showing some wear and tear in our bodies, but he’s still handsome, kind, generous, makes me laugh every day, and he still calls me “Cutie.” Aging eyesight can be a positive trait sometimes. He also has learned that I make the interior design choices because his ideas in that area are still abysmal.

    You won’t know if you don’t give ’em a chance.

  27. Emie says:

    I have a “thing” for containers… like they make me v., v. happy. I’m a nurse and I saved empty med vials and cleaned them out for storing beads. They would be perfect for seeds and they also come in an amber color!

  28. Karen says:

    Can you take a picture of the room where you’ve hoarded all the cute stuff you’ve bought at dollarama but haven’t made into anything yet? I’m beginning to think you must have a stash like that somewhere!

  29. Gayle M says:

    Perfect timing. Or maybe it’s just that time of year. Yesterday I started creating my garden by the moon calendar…

    I collect seeds too. Some are in my craft/office/toss it in here room. Others are in the dining room behind the cutlery chest. Some are downstairs with some gardening books. Oh, and out in the shed in a paper bag. I don’t wear coffee, but you do make a commanding case (or rather, seed box) for organizing for the annual seed hunt before planting event.

    Oh, all these seeds are snug and dry and tucked away in vacuum sealed bags, by the way. Just last summer I ran across a bag of sealed seed packets of zone 5 native flowers the deer won’t eat. From the Smokey Mountains, from our spring trip of 1996.

    So, yeah, I’m heading to the dollar store today. Early, to beat out the rest of you!

  30. Gayle M says:

    Couches and shoes wear out, but never the love of a good man.

  31. Nancy Sanderson says:

    This is awesome! Would make the best hostess or Christmas gift ever. Fill the bottles with a few of your favorites to give to a friend.

    Hey with Valentines Day next month I think you should treat yourself with a new tool. A pin nailer would be a super addition to your work shop. It’s like a tiny little brad nailer that fires pins. Would save a lot of hot glue (like with these boxes). I find Busy Bee tools usually has the best price and sales on these. The pins you can buy anywhere.

  32. Ei Con says:

    Here’s a source of wee bottles (both clear and amber that might be of interest. American Science and Surplus catalog:
    $3.95 for 20. Corks extra ( but also available on this site) or you can whittle down all those wine corks you’ve been saving.
    This is a fun catalog, the descriptions are hysterical.
    You’re welcome.

  33. Mary W says:

    You’ve turned seed storage into a designer must have! I suspected it was seeds in those vials on the entrance table. But the boxes are what make it perfect. I do understand the look of unstained beautiful wood but when you are actually gardening and getting it all yucky, maybe it would be helpful to use a matte clear finish so you could clean off the fingerprints. Just cause I know they are too pretty to put behind a closet door. Seems slightly oriental to me except they aren’t black lacquer. Love when beauty meets functionality.

  34. Leslie in Hampton says:

    Karen I love this!! I too have envelopes all over the place with seed packets in them. I too want them all in one place. I am going to do this!!

  35. Elizabeth says:

    You have grown luffah in Ontario? I’ve never managed, the frost gets them first. Spill your secret, woman!

  36. Codi says:

    LOVE this!!! I don’t plant seeds, but I want to use this for some non-powdered spices!

  37. Karin says:

    Oh fer cute as we say in Minnesota….. So my question is: where wil you store them? It breaks my heart to think they will go in the basement.

  38. Ann says:

    I have one suggestion. Put the year you collect your seeds on the bottles themselves. In case some don’t get used one year. Many seeds are good for years stored properly, others maybe the next year at best. But I hate to go thru my seeds and pull out something I want to plant and find the seeds are already 6-7 years old!!

    Those bottles are cool. I used to be a xray tech in a busy MRI department. We used a dye all day long that came in very similar bottles except they had a rubber stopper for the top. We did kids so our bottles were 50cc and 100cc. But the adult hospital used 300cc bottles so I had everybody saving them for me. I didn’t use them to store seeds but all my vintage sequins and beads for my crazy quilting. I loved those little bottles and should have started saving them sooner than I did and perhaps got them to save them for me even after I retired. I could have made a fortune getting the labels off the bottles and selling them in sets on ebay!

  39. Beth W. says:

    You have officially ruined my weekend.

    I will now be spending it at Dollarama and under a few glasses of wine while trying to set-up a seed collection as wonderful as yours.

    Credit where credit is due, this soft-rocks my world

  40. Stephanie says:

    While I kill anything that remotely resembles something green (good thing my kids are not unless they are sick), cool idea as always Karen. So saying, never mind the boxes and the jars – I WANT THAT WOOD BOWL! Love it and betting you found it at Christie’s – the year I could not make it there and you got to it first! If not and you found it on line (ya right), can you share the source?

  41. Gretchen Sexton says:

    While I don’t seem to be gardening at this moment in my life…I adore the organization! THAT, my friend, is storage with style!
    That wood bowl…

  42. Karen says:

    Well like I said Lindy, it took me years of staring into space before I figured it out. 🙂 ~ karen!

  43. Karen says:

    Ha! Thanks Jani. 🙂 ~ karen

  44. Marilyn says:

    Was he hot?? You can always get rid of the couch ….I’m going to use these for my jewellery….it’s everywhere in cigar boxes but they are not deep enough and you can’t write on them.

  45. Karen says:

    Hi Patty! I don’t plant everything every year, but definitely most things. Which is why I had to turn my front yard into a vegetable garden. And then get a garden plot. And then another garden plot, lol. ~ karen!

  46. Karen says:

    LOLOLOL! ~ karen

  47. Karen says:

    Thx. Rene. They really do make me ridiculously happy. ~ karen!

  48. If you ever want to come and live at my house, I’ll feed you. I lack an organization gene, and don’t mind if people touch my stuff. :))

  49. Karen says:

    Yeah, I forgot to mention he’s a little on the dull side. I’m sure you can appreciate that would never ever work for me, lol. ~ karen!

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