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Guest Blog: Jerry’s Garden-Seed Start’n Ideas

February 17th, 2011
 

Hey Everyone!  Jerry Greenfield here again!  Inspired by Humble Seed’s recent blogs on starting seeds indoors and planning a spring garden, I thought for my guest blog this month, I would expand a bit on indoor seed starting and offer some biodegradable seed pot ideas!  Planting in seed trays is a fantastic idea if you have some extras in your garage or gardening shed, but if not, consider using biodegradable items you may have around the house.  Here are some examples:

  1. Cardboard Egg Cartons: These are perfect for seedlings!  They hold just enough soil, allow for excess water to drain, and are very portable if you end up needing to move your seedlings.  In addition, by re-using these cartons as planters, you’re helping reduce your carbon footprint by getting two uses out of one item.
  2. Egg Shells: Let’s say you have Styrofoam or plastic egg cartons instead of cardboard cartons?  You can still put the shape and portability of the carton to use by planting your seeds inside egg shells.  Remove the top half of the shell and poke a small hole in the bottom for drainage.  When you’re ready to transplant, just break the shell to remove the soil and seedling, and then throw the shell into your compost pile or leave them in your garden soil.
  3. Newspaper Seedling Pots:   Okay, I’ll admit, not many of us even get the newspaper anymore, but if you do, building seedling pots out of the black and white pages is a great way to put your paper to use once you’ve finished reading it.  Here is a video on the “how tos” of building a newspaper seedling pot.  When transplant time comes, you can toss the newspaper into your compost pile.
  4. Plastic Soda Bottles: If you’re a big soda drinker (which you shouldn’t be!) you can use the bottom 1/3 or so of a plastic soda bottle as a seedling pot.  This option is kind of neat, as you can oftentimes see the roots growing in the soil because of the clear plastic.  Be sure to poke holes in the bottom for drainage, and once you’re done with them, wash them out and throw them in the recycle bin.
  5. Toilet Paper Rolls.  Yep, I said it!  And we all use toilet paper, so we all have rolls!  Each roll will get you two seedling pots, so this is a great way to re-use something that would normally just be tossed in the trash.  Similar to the newspaper pots, you would just throw these in your compost pile once you’ve transplanted your seedlings.  Here’s a quick “how to” on creating these.

In addition to these options, many garden supply stores will carry pre-made biodegradable seedling pots which can usually just be planted directly into your garden soil once you move your seedlings outdoors.  Whether you chose to use a plastic seed planter, one of the “around the house” options above, or store-bought seedling containers, the important thing is to re-use, reduce, and recycle.  Oh, and have fun!

Connect with Jerry via his blog and Facebook page: Grow Like Crazy

About Jerry Greenfield:

Jerry Greenfield

My number one focus is growing my own food. I don’t think that really counts as a hobby. For some people it is, but for me, growing my own fruits and vegetables and saving my own seed is the key to survival. The only person you can count on is yourself, if you ask me. The government is trying to “help” us all with GMOs and welfare, but it’s all a crock. I also like to build things and read Transcendentalist authors from the 1860s.

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Starting Garden Seeds Indoors

February 10th, 2011

 

For many gardeners, February is the perfect time to start seeds indoors 2-3 months before your average date of final frost. If your region’s average final frost date is the end of March then February is a great time to get started so your seedlings will have a good 6-8 weeks to prepare for their new home in your garden.

Starting seeds indoors is easy, and you do not need expensive supplies to get a head start on spring gardening. Supplies include: containers that are 2-3 wide and 2-3 inches deep, like a plastic 40 count tray; loose textured potting mix that has soil, vermiculite or perlite and sphagnum peat moss; seeds; popsicle sticks, a waterproof pen; clear plastic bags large enough to go around your container(s); a 15-15-15 soluble fertilizer; and snail bait.

Here’s how to sow spring garden seeds (such as broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, head lettuce, onion, peppers, squash, and tomatoes) indoors:

1. Fill your container with pre-moistened potting mix then level the soil. To moisten soil, simply put potting mix in a large bag and get it wet until it’s just moist.

2. Sow 1-2 seeds in each tray cell. Gently press the seeds into the soil then add a little bit of soil to the top, to cover seeds.

3. Mark your seedling trays by using your waterproof marker on the popsicle sticks, noting the date you planted and variety of seeds.

4. Place the tray inside of a clear plastic bag then tie it shut. If covering the tray with plastic wrap, you will want to make sure that the plastic does not touch the soil surface. Once covered with plastic you will not need to water the soil until your seeds sprout.

5. Set your seed tray in a spot that is evenly warm, such as the top of your refrigerator if you have the room. Do not place your seed tray in an area that is too drafty or too warm.

6. Once the seeds have sprouted remove the plastic and move the seed tray to a sunny south-facing window. If you do not have a window that provides full sun, you may need to purchase lighting equipment. If the region you live in continues to get very cold at night, you will want to move your seed tray away from the window so that the seedlings do not get too cold.

7. Watering your sprouts is easy. You’ll want to check the soil moisture daily by feeling the soil with your finger. If the soil is dry use a spray bottle that contains room temperature water and mist them with a fine spray.

8. 3-4 weeks after seeds are established, add some complete soluble fertilizer to the water. You’ll only need to fertilize once or twice before planting your seedlings into the garden.

9. After 6-8 weeks, you can start hardening off your seedlings by placing the seed tray outside in full sun for 2-3 hours. Bring the seed tray in after the allotted time. As your seedlings start adjusting to the 2-3 hours in full sun start moving them into the shade too for a few hours before bring the seed tray back indoors. You’ll want to follow this process for about two weeks. After the two week hardening process you can leave your seed tray out all day and night, as long as the temperatures are not freezing. This process, of putting your seed tray outdoors then moving them back indoors allows your seedlings to get used to being outdoors and keeps them from going into shock.

10. Once you’re ready to plant the seedlings in your garden you’ll want to: transplant them in the late afternoon when the sun is low; make sure the seedlings are well watered before planting them in the garden; make sure the garden soil is moist; try not to disturb the root ball when transplanting; water the seedlings once planted, to make sure the soil has settled around the root ball; place snail bait around the seedlings; and keep the seedlings moist for the first 4-5 days after transplanting, to make sure they get established. Once established you can water your seedlings when the soil is slightly dry in between watering.

That’s it! Starting seeds indoors gives you a head start on the spring gardening season and is an activity that provides you with great gardening practice (if you’ve never gardened before) and a wonderful sense of accomplishment. We’re excited for the spring garden season, and we hope you are, too. It’s going to be a great year for healthy, homegrown food!

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