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. shoshana leeder says:

    I love this! I really do. I don’t have any seeds, but whatever! French Breakfast radishes? Really? How often do you have a french breakfast? Now that I am 65, maybe I could use this idea for meds. The boxes could be labeled by body organ/system.LOL

  2. amanda says:

    I’m pretty sure you might be a genius. Another very cool idea. When does your book come out?? We need your wisdom!

  3. shannon says:

    Man, you find the best stuff at your dollar store! I’m jealous.

  4. Brenda says:

    For 14 years, my husband and I have fought over what sofa we should have. You were so smart to NOT date someone with an ugly sofa! Yep – it’s that important!

  5. Melissa says:

    Clearly, you have better dollar stores where you live… or they just have better inventory. My nearest store does not seem to carry anything useful, or anything that can be re-purposed. But now… now, I’m thinking it’s me, and that if you came to >my< dollar store, you would see potential everywhere. That, or you would corroborate my story about the lousy dollar store, LOL.

    Either way, your seed boxes are awesome— well done!

    Oh, and maybe you should ask couch guy, "Tell me about your couch…" and see what he says. It may be that it's a hand-me-down, and he reveals his true desire for some beautiful piece from West Elm, or PB, or whatever. You never know. Or, you could find out that he's attached to it, in which case, you probably made the right choice ;)

  6. Luanne says:

    You’re awesome Karen. :) It’s encouraging to hear that you don’t have your sh*t together, either. It is little admissions like this that keep me feeling like I’m simply a part of the “human club”. (Admissions like this, and also seeing the occasional block-heater extension cord in the middle of the road in the winter-time. :) That’s another thing that proves you’re a human.)

  7. Alena says:

    Karen, you way too much of that stuff. Some might say you have gone to seed! LOL

    But, the logic of your thinking is impeccable. I would definitely NOT date anyone with an ugly couch.
    I think along the same lines; in my view, a good car is one in which one can comfortably transport 3 greyhounds (the term ‘comfortably’ applies to the cargo, not to the driver). That’s why I valued my Ford Escort station wagon which died in an accident in 2007. Now I drive a Matrix and relaxed my standards a bit (down to 2 greyhounds). But the car still has to be able to accommodate 8 ft long pieces of lumber (which the Matrix does). I also drove all 3 pieces of my countertop in it from Toronto. I did require my seat to be yanked forward so I drove with my knees practically under my chin (I have long legs) but that was ok.

  8. Jane Keene says:

    Great idea Karen, but lots of work! Our Dollar Stores here don’t compare with Dollarama. Wish we had some! Gotta admit, right there with ya on the puffy couch thing…..but the kindness and wealthy might make me reconsider…that’s a tough one. And thanks for the link to the chalk holder. Just ordered one. I said the other day I wish I still had mine from teaching, but with all the whiteboards in school now, I thought they were obsolete….Happy girl here?

  9. Danni says:

    in a word…. gobsmacked.
    You know, at this point, you could wander through my house and yard and smugly point out all the stuff I borrowed/copied/reworked from your posts.
    Thank you!!

    • Karen says:

      Good, glad to hear it! Maybe one day I’ll do a post where everyone sends in pictures of the “STUFF” they’ve done. ~ karen!

      • Molly Eileen says:

        Oh, that’s so true! I have sprouts growing, bread dough waiting in the fridge, of course a couche (which I didn’t even know existed six months ago), a tabletop fire thing, and I’m fiercely planning a cob oven. Maybe this summer. Oh and I love shaking up butter in a mason jar. Every two weeks. :)

  10. 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. :))

  11. 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.

  12. 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…

  13. 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?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Stephanie! The bowl is actually new, but I left it out in the rain all summer long which made it get very worn looking, lol. I got it at a store (I’m afraid I can’t remember the name) on Ottawa Street in Hamilton. The store is quite large and sells furniture, (some old some new) and a lot of accessories. There’s a bit of an Indian or Asian vibe to the store if I remember correctly. ~ karen!

  14. 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

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

    • Karen says:

      Yup. Into the basement they’ll go beside my grow light stands. I have stacked wood butter boxes that hold all the little seed boxes and a few other seed things. ~ karen!

  17. Codi says:

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

  18. Elizabeth says:

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

    • Karen says:

      I’ll be doing a post on the secrets to growing Luffah in Ontario (Southern Ontario at least) in a couple of weeks Elizabeth. :) ~ karen!

  19. 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!!

  20. 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.

    • TucsonPatty says:

      I was also worried about the garden dirt factor. I wouldn’t be able to use them because of the OCD-got-to-keep-it-clean. Maybe at that time, you just throw the bottles you need into your pocket and don’t ever handle the box with dirty hands. Or use the dirt artistically and forgeddaboutit. ; )

      • Karen says:

        Yeah, I’m not worried about the dirt. They’re seed boxes. They *should* have some dirt on them. Kindda like … don’t trust a skinny chef I guess. :) ~ karen!

      • Mary W says:

        I really like the forgeddaboutit technique of combining art with gardening. LOL

  21. 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.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Ei Con! I just wanted to point out that those bottles are really, really tiny. Much smaller than the ones I’m using. Which would still work fine, they just won’t hold as many seeds and they’re a bit more fiddly to pick up and handle. (I know because I also bought some tiny bottles for a few odd extra seeds) Great price though. ~ karen!

    • Jenifer says:

      I just did a little browsing on this site and it is FANTASTIC! I bookmarked a bunch of things. Thanks so much for the tip! and you’re right, the descriptions are great! :) There is something for everyone…Easter gift (the rabbit cube), summer fun (the gigantic bubble kit), and Underwear in a Can…that has Father’s Day written all over it! Loved it!

      Thanks again!

  22. 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.

  23. 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!

  24. 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!

    • Karen says:

      Heh! I have one craft “box” in my dining room bookcases that holds leftover stuff. But really I don’t randomly buy anything at the dollar store unless I know what I’m going to make out of it so I don’t have a huge stash. An inordinate amount of sparkles for some reason, lol. ~ karen!

  25. 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!

  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.

    • 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!

      • Grammy says:

        Oh, well, you didn’t mention the “dull” part. So the couch was really just a “nice” way for you to not say you didn’t want to go out with him. That’s a whole different thing, and you are managing your life nicely without my expert advice. I should have remembered Betty didn’t raise no fools.

  27. Rene Walkin says:

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

  28. 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.

  29. 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. :-)

  30. Nancy Blue Moon says:

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

  31. 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.

    • 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!

  32. Jani says:

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

  33. 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….

  34. 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.

  35. 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!!!

  36. Raymonde says:

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

  37. 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.

  38. Deborah says:

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

  39. Lorraine Binette says:

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

  40. 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

  41. Sharon Grant says:

    Dollarama is heavenly :)

  42. 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!)

  43. VICKI says:

    a work of art!!!

  44. Edith says:

    Great idea Karen!

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

  45. 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!

  46. Marsha Snodgrass says:

    I freaking love this! I plan to steal this ideal :-)

  47. 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!

    • 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!

  48. 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)….

  49. Jan says:

    Super Nice!

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