So, you're ready to get growing? Gather your tools gals (and gents); it's time to get crafty. Here's what you need (see image 1):
a) Dirt carrying apparatus (if you're not keen on digging in with your hands, I used a wooden kitchen spoon.)
b) Hole poker for putting your seeds in the dirt (I'm using a chopstick, you can use a pencil, stick, knitting needle, etc)
d) Seed starting pots (see last week's post)
e) Loose soil made especially for seed starting. These usually contain vermiculite, perlite, peat moss, and perhaps a little bit of regular ol' dirt. You want a light, airy mix that will allow fragile little roots to grow and expand.
f) Some sort of clear plastic housing for your little seeds. This will be your own personal greenhouse.
I don't know how many of you are like me, but I get distracted really
easily. Conveniently, this is also how I rationalize little messes all
over the house.
And also why I used to see plastic storage bins and envision instantaneous organization, as they jump from the shelf into the cart and I happily go on my way to the more enlightened, well-organized and stackable life of visible storage units. This was before I met the Mr., who brought to my attention that I actually had to do the organizing, destroying all hopes of magic occurring once the stuff was in the containers. Perhaps this is too much information . . . but the point is, in my house they've become obsolete before their time.
Until I turned them into mini-greenhouses (hold your applause).
We all have clear plastic things hanging around the house. Plastic that doesn't really have an obvious second purpose, skipping "reuse" and going straight to "recycle".
Some ideas to get the ol' brain moving: 2 liter bottles (or, heck!, why not the smaller ones, too?), take out containers, those super nice plastic storage bags with a zipper that bedding comes in, milk jugs, even plastic baggies.
So here we go, are you ready to make an easy peasy handy dandy super thrifty greenhouse (image 2)?
All it takes is a drill with a 1/4" bit and a couple holes in each side for ventilation (3). If you don't add ventilation you'll end up growing mold, which isn't that exciting.
"How in the world did I make a greenhouse," you ask with a hint of amazement in your voice. I drilled 3 holes per side, leaving the top solid; that way, when I move them outside, I can transfer the seed starts to sit on the lid, then flip the bottom over to become the top and still have a small tray that will hold water.
On mine, I've taped a diagram (written in permanent marker) of what was planted where. Or you can use store bought seed markers, Popsicle sticks work great, too! Permanent markers are your friends. Keep that in mind.
No matter your source, the same principals apply: clear plastic for the sun to get through, holes for ventilation (a sharp knife, scissors, or nail holes will also work if the drill is overkill), bottom tray for watering (watering from the bottom encourages little roots to grow down rather than stay on the surface, prepping your little babies for standing strong all on their own.)
GardenGate Magazine has a little tutorial on using 2 liter bottles for cloches (aka greenhouses). I'd be wary of melting plastic (I'm also wary of nonstick cooking surfaces, though) but that's my 2 cents.
Instructables also has some great resources for DIY mini-greenhouses with on-hand materials (and a geodesic dome full sized one!)
I always take the experimental approach to this gardening thing, and if you're just starting out, I suggest the same approach. There will be trip-ups along the way, but all in all it's a learning experience.
For that reason, I'm trying out several types of seed starting pots this year. I had some peat pellets from who knows where still sealed in their baggies, so I started those last week. This week I'm starting seeds in the toilet paper tubes, as well as in peat pots and some plastic trays I had leftover from purchasing small starts. It’s a good idea to start with clean materials, that way you’re not jinxed with fungus from the get go.
Fill the pots with your seed starting mix, and moisten the soil. Not sopping wet, but damp enough to clump up. Pat your dirt down enough to get the air pockets out and your ready to start pokin’ some holes. Your seed packets should say how deep the seeds should be, but if you’ve traded or just can’t read the instructions on the seed packet, the rule to go by is twice as deep as the diameter of the seed; loosely cover the top of your seed, mist it a little more, and put the lid on the box. You’re almost there!
Find a consistently warm spot in your house. You don’t need to worry about light yet, but bottom warmth will aid in the success of your seeds. I have mine on the back of the dryer, which is also conveniently near enough to the stove. It’s not direct heat, but with the everyday activities in our house, they do stay consistently warm. Older refrigerators generally stay warm on top, near a heat vent, the top of old computer monitors. . . do a little treasure hunt for warm spots in your home.
Monitor your moisture levels (don’t let your seeds dry out!), and water from the bottom, allowing the soil mix to wick the water up to your seeds. Sometimes I mist the top, just for good measure.
I bet in seven days, you’ll be seeing green!
Renee Garner has a passion to make things grow, although her brownish thumb wants her to believe otherwise. When mud pies aren't on the menu, you can find her doodling the days away at Wolfie and the Sneak.