Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Itching for Spring!

My young assistant (Rebecca age 6 and 3/4) and I spent last Sunday afternoon starting our seeds for the Spring planting. It is so exciting that it is finally time to get started! One of the most interesting parts for me was to gather together all of the containers that I have been saving to reuse for the seed starting. What an amazing array of cast-offs.

So what do I use you are wondering?!
1. My favorite seed starting containers are paper egg cartons. I get friends to save them for me so I have plenty. They make great "peat pots" and don't cost a thing. Four egg pots will fit comfortably in a plastic mushroom container (the 8 oz size). I like to label the mushroom container with a permanent marker, so I know what is what. If you label the egg carton part.. well it will eventually disappear even if you use permanent marker. (I speak from experience here!) I use the egg carton starters for seeds that I would ordinarily start in the garden but I want to get a jump start on the season and plant them sooner.. because you can plant the entire thing in the garden and not disturb the delicate roots. The paper carton does a great job of holding moisture so that the new seed starts stay nice and wet for initial sprouting.

2. Last year I purchased one of those make your "own peat pots out of newspaper thingies" (shown here in photo). I love it. I use it for planting things that will be around for a while before planting out in the garden...tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, etc. Here are some step by step photos.

First you cut newspaper strips to the right width and wrap them around the wooden cylinder.

Then, the newspaper that overlaps the base of the cylinder is folded in to create the bottom of the pot. With some practice you will find just the right place to start the folding in process for you to get a nice neat bottom that will be suitable for holding the soil in your little pot.

Next, the newspaper wrapped cylinder in pressed into the bottom disk of the wooden pot-making contraption. You press it in and twist with pressure 8 or 10 times around to get the bottom of the pot tightly wound.

Finally, you slip and gently twist your newspaper pot off the cylinder and presto! you have a free peat pot and have found another way to recycle newspaper for your garden and the planet!

Fill with soil and get those seeds started!

I must say that I take great delight in looking over the containers that I use for my seed starting. It it is veritable whose who in recycled containers and makes me feel good that these items will do my garden great good before being used up and sent on to their final place!
I find that the clear plastic "to-go" containers make mini-greenhouses as do the clear plastic lettuce containers from the grocery store. The mushroom containers and styrofoam packing trays are great under the both the egg carton pot and the newspaper pots.

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