Recycling containers and other items to help get a head start on the growing season shouldn’t be too hard for anyone to do. If you look at every food container that you usually place in your recycling bin or throw away, you will begin to see potential pots, planters or mini-greenhouses everywhere.
As example, so many food items and fresh produce come in little plastic baskets or nifty hinged clear plastic containers that are just begging to be reused! Think about the woven plastic baskets that strawberries come in. These can be used as sinkable planters that allow you to start the seeds and then transplant the sprouts into the ground without ever having to disturb the sprouts’ roots. Or how about those plastic containers that have a clear top that snaps onto, or is hinged to, the bottom section? These type containers can become instant little greenhouses, lending the perfect solution to helping get seeds sprouting and growing in an ideal environment. All you have to do is add soil, enough moisture, warmth, and light.
Some Great Ideas to Help Give Your Seeds an Early Head Start
It’s not just plastic containers that can be recycled. Here are a few of the many great ideas you’ll find in “The Shoestring Gardener“ book:
- Egg cartons: Either the pressed cardboard or pressed foam kind, though a foam carton works better as it doesn’t wick away water from the soil. First, cut off the top lid to use as a drainage tray. Then, poke 3 to 4 holes in the bottom of each little cup with a toothpick. Fill each cup with potting soil, plant your seeds and then water.
The only issue to be aware of is that most longer-root plants may not grow well in the shallow cups. And don’t put too many seeds into each cup as again, there isn’t a lot of extra growing room in the cups once the plants get growing.
- Plastic baggies and paper towels for quick germination: Just place the seeds of one kind of plant onto one half of a dampened paper towel; then fold over the other half to cover the seeds. Place the damp paper towel into a baggie (a zip lock type works best), seal shut and place in a warm spot, such as on top of the refrigerator, to aid in a more rapid germination of the seeds. Keep an eye on the seeds because once you see little roots and tiny top growth sprouting, it’s time to transfer the sprouts into small containers to grow some more before placing out in your garden.
- Use empty cardboard toilet paper rolls. Cut about six slits around one edge, about 1-inch straight down into the tube. Then, carefully fold over each section made by the slits. This will form a bottom in the tube to hold in the soil. These can be placed directly into the soil, just like newspaper pots.
Or, don’t bother to make a closed bottom end. Simply hold a roll in one hand, with the open bottom against the palm of your hand. Then, using your other hand, fill the roll with an inch or two of moistened soil, tamping it down firmly with your fingers or other blunt object. This method is usually sufficient to hold the soil in place. Experiment and see which way works best for you.
- Brown lunch bags make great pots to use when dealing with plants that really can’t tolerate being disturbed in order to transplant them into the garden. Turn down the top edge a time or two to make it the desired height; next, using a cooking spray made from canola or olive oil, spray the inside of the bag generously; let air dry; fill with good soil or compost; and plant your seeds. Then, when it’s time to place them in the garden, just dig a hole and place the entire “pot” into the soil. The bags will easily decompose.
Claudia F. Brownlie is an advocate of eco-friendly gardening methods. She recently released her newest book “The Shoestring Gardener” – A Compendium of Hundreds of Eco-Friendly, Creatively Frugal Gardening How-Tos, Remedies, and Tips. You can learn about making hypertufa objects in her book “The Hypertufa How-To Manual.” She’s also the chief gardener and DIY garden art project expert at her popular website “The-Artistic-Garden.com.” You can Twitter Claudia at @ecogardengirl.
The Shoestring Gardener – http://www.shoestringgardener.com
The Hypertufa How-To Manual – http://www.hypertufabooks.com
The-Artistic-Garden.com – http://www.the-artistic-garden.com