like everybody, we are on a tight budget, but it is times like this that seem to bring out the most inspired ideas and this spring i have been very excited to find many simple ways to make my gardening ideas doable.
the first is that i am attempting to grow everything from seed. it's cheap, and it only takes a few seeds to get started. if the first batch doesn't work i can always try again.
but what to start my seeds in? one favorite trick that i saw mentioned often online was using egg cartons. i decided i would only use the kind that are made of pressed paper--these tear easily, and they can soak up water from the bottom which is what i've heard is best for starting seeds.
then i remembered i had a few plastic shoe bins, a couple still had lids, that i had originally used in my fridge to organize the many little bottles and bags of things that get all over the place (FWIW, this system did not work for me--things got just as lost, but more neatly). by tearing each egg carton in half, i could fit three sections of six cups each in a shoe box, and could water from the bottom. i used the lid to make a little greenhouse until things sprouted. on the boxes that didn't have a lid i used a little press 'n seal plastic wrap (thank you mama and jacquie for introducing me to this).
for labels i used some popcycle sticks from our stash (thank you ice cream truck for coming by so often!), and cut a slit in the carton to hold them in place.
then i read on several sites that i should put them someplace where they'd stay warm to make them germinate faster. the place most often recommended was the fridge--but guess what?--modern, energy star refridgerators don't leak heat. LOL
we have one TV that has a flat top so that's where our little greenhouses went until the seeds germinated.
the other little trick i've been using is to make my own little pots using newspaper. i just wrap a folded half-sheet around a can, a spice jar, or whatever is the right size, fold up the bottom like a present, put in some potting soil, and plant my seed. when it is time to transplant to a bigger pot or to the garden, no need to disturb the little baby--i just put the whole thing in the new home. i put these little pots in a shoe box too. the squash in this picture are in their second paper pot.
the newest model is the strawberry box greenhouse. strawberries are very inexpensive right now in nashville--i got some yesterday for 89cents a quart!--so i saved the containers to start some new seeds. one half of an egg carton fits perfectly in a strawberry box, and the box even has holes in the bottom for drainage and holes in the lid for ventilation. i just stuck the label stick thru one of the holes. this one has bee balm seeds, which a friend gave me at christmas from her own plants. they will become part of the hummingbird garden that ella is planting this year.
last, for the sweet potatoes, i used two little bread pans that i had left over from last spring's preschool teacher gift making fest. i cut the sweet potatoes in half, pushed them into some very moist potting soil and covered them with some press and seal. when they got sprouts i took off the P'nS and put them where they can get good light.
all my little plant babies are hardening off on the porch now. later this week i'll show you my garden beds, some things are already taking off there!
how are things going in your garden? please share links so we can all visit and admire!
*the little plants at the top of this post are from hot peppers that my mother gave me almost two years ago--i had saved the little dried peppers in the worst way possible, on the countertop in the kitchen in a clear plastic container that didn't protect them from light, heat, or humidity. guess what--i got a 100% germination rate. just goes to show--it is always worth a try.