Friday, May 4, 2012

Organic Gardening: Starting Your Own Seeds

Want to start your seeds indoors (and recycle)?  
Here is an inexpensive way to do both!  

Supplies Needed: empty egg cartons (paperboard preferred), potting soil, seeds, permanent marker, pen/pencil, and clean popsicle sticks.  

Before I began the project I determined how many plants I wanted of each type,  i.e.  36 bean plants, 2 butternut squash, etc.  

Step 1:  Remove the lid and side latch from the egg cartons with scissors.
Step 2:  Fill with potting soil.  (I used Miracle Grow potting soil.)
Step 3:  Label popsicle sticks with permanent ink and place in the peaks in the egg carton (pictured below). (I used scissors to gently punch a hole before inserting the sticks.)
Step 4:  Place 1-2 seeds in each egg cavity and use your pen/pencil to gently push the seed under the surface of the soil.  
Step 5:  Place egg cartons on a protected surface in a sunny and warm location. 
Step 6:  Carefully water your seeds and make sure that the egg carton is soaked as well (but not dripping).  

Seeds after one week.  Some varieties have sprouted already.

Masai Green Bean seedlings

Zinnia seedlings on the right and a close view of how to label more than one variety in 1 egg carton.

Check seedlings often (at least once daily) and keep soil moist.  When plants are ready for the garden use a tray or other flat surface to gently transfer the egg carton and take it to your garden plot.  

To plant:  
Make sure carton is moist.  Gently tear 1 egg compartment off.  Then gently tear off the bottom of the egg carton cup from your little seedling (this will allow the roots to better develop).  Dig a hole in your garden and put the plant and egg carton remained in the hole.  (The egg carton will degrade).

Seedlings waiting to be planted.

Tear off one compartment.

Gently tear off the bottom of the compartment.

Transplanted in the garden.

How do I know how many seeds to plant in an egg cavity?
If your seeds are fresh 1 seed will generally be sufficient.  But if your seeds are older (like mine) you might put 2 or even 3 seeds in a cavity to ensure germination.  

For flowers: I like to sprinkle the seeds over the surface (so there may be as many as 5 seeds in a cavity).  

Other ways to recycle:
I re-used popsicle sticks for the labels, but you could use something else you have on hand.
I recycled an old pen to push the seeds in.
Re-use other types of containers to plant the seeds in if you don't have or want to use egg cartons.

No comments:

Post a Comment