Category Archives: Seed packer’s notes

Project Summary

The last of our 12 month subscriptions have finished and I am going to take the opportunity to end the experiment here. I’ll take this opportunity to share some of my discoveries.

The Positive

  • The subscription has a brute force effect on our planting habits. We don’t normally mark the passage of a month in the garden, but we often found that we were receiving a new envelope of seeds to plant, while the old one was still on the bench – an undeniable indication that we took to long to plant the last seeds. Which sometimes led to positive action!
  • People unanimously thought that this was a good idea, but that doesn’t translate to fat veggies. Which brings me to…

The Negative

  • This solution is rather specific to someone who is already active in the garden. If someone didn’t already have a garden bed to plant the seeds into, that’s a pretty huge barrier that receiving seeds is not going to break down. It is entirely feasible that someone would receive all the seeds for their 6 month subscription before they got a chance to build their garden bed.
  • Friends, family and acquaintances dilute the user base. This is common to any project I guess, but people close to me might have said “This is a great idea, sure I’ll get involved” when really they mean “Not my cup of tea, but I don’t want to hurt your widdle feelings”.
  • Seasonal misunderstandings: having a nationally accessible website meant that I was getting orders from Queensland and Victoria. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to customise the seed packets for more than one climate.
  • The time that it took order seeds and make up the packets was pretty huge. This made me think that there really needs to be an economy of scale. Which could be addressed by:
    • This project being undertaken by a seed supplier who already has the stock and part of a packing process.
    • Going in with your balls swinging – if you’re going to assemble planting info for one person, you may as well do it for 100. So a huge effort should go into trying to connect with the correct customers at the start. Maybe via online advertising, or sending out demo packets to gardening clubs – all the clubs in your climate!
    • If the planting info isn’t on the seed packets, and needs to be on a sheet, like mine, then you need an easy way of compiling that info. Something like a database that can produce the sheets.
  • It is always nicer to garden with someone else, so in the case of family I feel like my time would have been more constructively spent by planting seeds in person with a couple of people I know rather than impersonally trying to increase the productivity of many.

Big thanks to everyone who put time into trying this out. Including and especially, Lynda.


3rd month sent. Trial Extended.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve just packed up the seeds for the 3rd and final month of the trial, ready to send out. I struggled a bit to get these out on time, it’s the 25th and I’m only just about to put them in the mail. I will pick a specific day of the month for finalising orders, packing and sending.

There has been mixed success with the first two months, some people are a month behind with their planting, some planted the first but not the second and some still haven’t planted the first packet. Feedback has been positive, with several people keen to keep going (and contribute money to buying the seeds).

Note that this time the name of the seed is written in the bottom corner of the bag, allowing for the bag to be thinly rolled up into a label (also note the first crush).

I have decided on the following draft subscription options, which should help cover the cost of buying seeds:

  • 1 month subscription – $20 per month
  • 6 month subscription  – $108 ($18 per month)
  • 12 month subscription $180 ($15 per month)

All of these will start with a free month trial (for now!) which you’re welcome to take advantage of.

  • 3, 6 & 12 month gift certificates

Does this sound like a reasonable set of options?

Are there any I should add?

Round 2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUsing little bags worked a lot quicker, cancelling out the paper folding stage. The envelopes I received are a bit larger than is required, so next time I’ll get smaller ones.

I noticed that John and Pru had folded up the paper envelopes to use as lables- what an awesome idea. Next time I will take care to write the names on the very corner of the bag so that everyone can use them as lables.

February, first 10 packets

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese are the first prototype seed envelopes. Towards the end of January I ordered 8 different packs of seeds from Green Harvest organic, using the list generated by as a guide to what’s in season. The seeds cost about $35.

I folded up envelopes from A5, then A6 pieces of scrap paper, which took approximately 10 minutes on average to fold and fill 10 envelopes for each seed. They are not air or water tight, as the seeds are not intended to be stored! It took 15 minutes to make up the complete packs. So approx 95 minutes in total.

The individual seed envelopes just have the name of the seed, which can be cross referenced on an a4 sheet of info with all the seed details.

I cut and pasted the description for each seed from the web and typed out the planting info. Some feedback below suggests there is too much info. One thing I wonder about is that there is separate distances for plant spacing and row spacing. I personally don’t plant much in rows, because it’s too tempting for pests to come an obliterate their favourite thing. I will consult some gurus and see if this figure can be averaged into one radius.

What will I do differently next time?

I have ordered little white paper bags, which should reduce the time taken to pack the individual seed envelopes (and stop seeds from exploding everywhere).

The recycled envelopes don’t stick shut very well which is unacceptable, so I will try another type, for when they get mailed. Oh yeah, next time I am going to mail them… it was nice to hand deliver them, but not sustainable.

Include a seed saving guide (in response to suggestions below).

I am keen to get the seed info into a database, so I start automating the printed info, since typing them out is going to be time consuming (I didn’t even record how long it took last time).

Verbal feedback

“Who the fuck’s going to read all that?”

Too much info on the sheet. Will try and whittle it down or explain some things graphically or contextually (don’t ask me how). Thanks Lynda.

“Can we have something fun, like sunflowers in each packet?”

Yes John, this is a good idea, sorry I forgot to put fun things in this round.

“I have saved seeds you can use for this”

Great idea, Katelijn. We will include them for March/April.

“You should get people to save seeds for this”

This is obviously an unforeseen important aspect of the project. Let’s do it, thanks Pete.