Labelling Seed Source Plants
seed saving
seed labelling and storage
labelling seed source plants

Why Label seed source plants?
Photo of lettuces going to seed
Red Oak and Corel lettuces going to seed.  They have been marked with plastic labels attached to small rose stakes.  They have also been tied to larger stakes for support.
There is nothing more annoying than mislabelled seeds.  To minimise this risk  I believe in the motto "Label early, label often".  There are two stages that seeds should be labelled.  The first stage is the labelling of the seed source plants that you are going to harvest seeds from.  There are two reasons for doing this.

1. reduce the risk of mislabelling the plants as they mature
While many vegetables (such as lettuces) look very different when young, as they go to seed they begin to look more and more like each other.  Once fully mature it is easy to confuse plant varieties, especially if you are saving seeds from a number of different varieties of the same plant.

2. avoiding accidentally eating your seed plants
Labelling your seed source plants alerts other members of your family that this is a seed plant and is not to be harvested as food.


Seed source plant labels
Photo of seedling labels, on with string attached
Seedling label with string attached and unmodified label

Photo of seedling label tied to a cob of corn.
String seedling label tied to cob of corn.  Not only does this identify the type of corn but it alerts people not to harvest it for food.
Any old piece of cardboard or stick of wood can be used to label  your seed source plants, but if you are going to do a lot of labelling you might want to go for more elaborate labels. 

I use three types of labels to mark plants or individual seed pods that have been marked to be harvested for seed.  All of them are based on plastic seedling labels. I use plastic seedling labels as they can be written on with a pencil, rubbed out and written on again, so they can be reused many times. Plastic seedling labels can be bought from most hardware stores and nurseries.  You could also get a sheet of white plastic and cut it up into rectangles.

1. plastic seedling labels tied to strings
Plastic seedling labels are for labelling small seedlings in seedling trays and are not really suitable for large plants.  However if you drill holes in the ends of each label and thread a pieces of string through those holes then the strings can be used to tie the labels to the main stems of a plant.  But what I mainly use them for is to mark individual large seed pods such as eggplant, corn or capsicum.  I tie them around the actual seed pods or on the stems just below the pods.  Note that I cut the stands of the labels off as they are not needed.

2. Plastic Labels on Plantsman's Markers
Photo of plastic lebel attached to a plantsman's marker
Plastic label riveted
to a plantsman's marker.
To make the plastic labels more visible in a vegetable bed I screw or rivet them to  Plantsman's markers so they will sit higher off the ground. 

A plantsman's marker is a generic term, but I am referring to the one's sold by the Diggers Seed Club.  Their markers are thin galvanised steel plates with attached wire rods that can easily be pushed into the ground.  For more information on the Diggers Seed Club click HERE.  Diggers is based in Australia but they will also accept international orders.  

As well as labelling seed plants these labels are also useful for marking beds that have just been planted with seeds.

3. Plastic labels on rose stakes
Photo of a plastic marker attached to a small rose stake.
The top part shows a plastic seedling label attached to a small rose stake.  The bottom part is a close up of the rear of the labels, detailing the micro stray clamp and the screws used to attach it,
To me this is the best way to label seed plants as it puts the labels so high off the ground that even the largest plants can't cover them.  I make them my screwing  or riveting three millimetre micro spray clamps onto the back of  plastic labels that have had their stems cut off.  I then thread the labels onto small rose stakes (4 mm by .9 metre).   The main disadvantage of them is that they are relatively expansive to make but I think the benefits far out way the cost. 

These rose stakes are plastic coated metal rods. The stakes and micro spray clamps  are readily available from most Australian nurseries and hardware stores.