Monday, March 19, 2012

In the Mix Monday--Starting Seeds in Recycleables

     Good Monday morning, dear readers! Dare I say it? It seems that Spring may have truly "sprung" here in New England and I am giddy with pleasure over the possibilities. Last week I shared with you the beginnings of my gardening adventure, and as promised today the adventure continues.

     Yesterday was a beautiful day so I decided to get started with my seeds, which I plan to start in containers indoors. I have never done this on my own, only watched others. So exciting (and a little scary!) A few of my little's, Piper and Isaac, helped me along with a couple of their friends who were visiting. I can assure you this added to the adventure...a spilled watering can right off the bat, one child drenched with water from the outdoor faucet... Violet got a mouth full of newspaper and I made one (minor, I hope) mistake in my seed starting process...that's one mistake I know about for sure anyway.

     In any case, on to seed starting. I figured it couldn't be that hard, you just put some seeds in dirt right? Water, sunlight. Bim! Bam! Boom! Little sprouts appear and you transfer them to the great outdoors. It turns out, it almost is that simple. But I have been really nervous about the whole thing. It seems that somehow, as simple as it is, it could be simple to mess it up as well. Time will tell. I decided to do some research and found a great article on Organic Gardening magazine's website (plus found an offer on their site for a free issue of the magazine--can't pass up freebies...even though it means they hope I'll buy a subscription...which knowing me, I will.) The article was really interesting and gave a run down of several options for starting seeds indoors. Apparently you can even make your own seed starting pots out of newspaper!

     I have been rescuing plastic containers out of my recycle bin for about a month in hopes of finding some way to use them to start my seeds. My neighbor actually got me started with the idea, she's been saving her K-cups for such a purpose. This really appealed to me, and if you're like me and have Green-Guilt about K-cups then you'll like this great re-purposing of the little plastic pods.

 *on a green-brewing note, you may also be interested in this little do-dad which I love and works great!
     Ok, back to gardening. With the K-cups you have to peel away the foil lid and rip out the coffee or tea filled filter. Rinse. What you're left with is a nifty little plastic cup which already has a whole in the bottom for drainage!
     I also saved salad containers, which you'll see in a moment came in handy as mini green houses. I learned from the Organic Gardening article, mentioned above, to line the bottom of my tray with newspaper (hence Violet's papery "snack") to help hold in moisture after the water drains through the containers. Yogurt containers, plastic baby food containers, and a plastic take-out container from a night of Indian food were also in my stockpile. 

     The process was pretty simple, we filled the containers with an organic seed starting mix (just follow directions on the bag, ours required filling the bag with water and allowing the soil to fluff up in a moist mix before using...only takes a moment.) Fill the containers almost full, patting gently to remove air pockets, but don't pack too tightly or else the delicate shoots won't be able to take root. Next follow directions on your seed packet for how deeply to sow your seeds, cover with a little more soil and water. It's suggested to use a "sprinkling" type watering can so that a large flow of water doesn't disrupt the seeds and make them float to the top. I didn't have one like that so when the seeds floated to the top after watering I just sprinkled a little more soil on top. We'll see what happens!

      We closed the lids on top and made sure to mark the containers so we wouldn't forget what was planted where (seems obvious, but I have been known to forget to mark what I've planted and then have been completely confused as to what was growing.) We placed them on a little table in front of our dining room window where we get the most sun throughout the day.

    Pictured below, you can see my Fella (in the background) cleaning up the remains of last years brush pile and the concrete area on the south side of our garage where we plan to put our raised garden bed.

     Now I know you all want to hear about my little gardening faux pas: Everything was going along fine. I grabbed some of my saved plastic baby food containers, thought these would work great as mini-green houses on their own because they have plastic lids and everything! But gardening with the little friends, though a great experience for providing education and nature-love to my little suburbanites, can be taxing on Mama's brain power. Our adventure had been a little hectic from the get-go, as mentioned above, but I did my best to keep things organized and to keep little hands from reaching in and grabbing seeds etc before I was ready. We had planted chard and mesclun in the K-cups, now it was time to plant cucumbers and tomatoes. So here I was, surrounded by 5 children between the ages of 9 months and 9 years...I was simultaneously breastfeeding...
      ...and poking drainage holes in the bottom of the baby food containers (don't worry, I was careful!)

...and supervising as the children filled, patted, made holes for seeds, planted seeds etc.

     In all of this I failed to think, hey in these containers...if they are meant to be mini green houses, we should only fill them half full so that when we put the covers on their will be space for the shoots to GROW...duh. Instead, they look like this:
     No room to grow with these lids on! Luckily I have plenty of seeds left and can do some more the right way. As for these ones, I guess as soon as I see sprouts I'll have to take these covers off and put the containers inside another salad container (don't have one right now.)

     So that was my little mistake, but hopefully it's the only one. If I made any other mistakes (like the seeds floating in water?), I hope they aren't big enough to make this whole project a bust! I am very excited though and I'm off to a good start I think because I am actually following through, haven't waited too late in the season to get started and most importantly, because I am blogging about it, I have the wide world to make me accountable and make sure that I don't give up!

     I hope you've found some of these ideas inspiring, I'd love to know about your own gardening adventures or other creative ways that you've re-used or re-purposed items in your gardening or in any other area of your homes. Look for future gardening posts by me as the season and adventure continues. Until then...

Greenly Yours, 
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  1. AWESOME ideas!

    We've used egg cartons to sprout seeds. When the seeds sprout you cut the carton into 12 sections and then the carton can go right into the ground with the seedling (we were hoping this would provide less shock for the little plant).

    I love finding ways to up cycle trash.

  2. I've always wanted to start seeds like this, maybe one day I'll try it! Also, I love the "simultaneously breastfeeding" part - it's amazing how many thing you can learn to do while BF'ing when you have to!

  3. Great ideas! Recycling is awesome. I really have to start taking care of my plant pots...



  4. Great idea! I'm a new follower from the hop! Hope to see you at my blog soon! :)


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