Friday, March 23, 2012

Starting Seeds with Repurposed Recycling

By:  Jessica S. Herwick

With March in full swing, and April just around the corner, the time has come to prepare for this year’s garden!  Hooray!  This means starting the seeds you have spent the last few months collecting, drying, researching, and/or purchasing… if you haven’t done so already.  This also means that you will begin to see all sorts of fancy seed starting kits in your local nurseries and hardware stores.  Many big-name companies sell a variety of pricey, pre-packaged seed starting materials that claim to get the best results from your seed packages, but I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to spend that money!  

Budget the cash you would set aside for starter kits and buy more seeds. Instead, repurpose your recycling!  Discarded toilet paper and paper towel rolls, egg cartons, newspaper, yogurt cups, milk cartons, soda bottles and even your old newspapers can be used as fabulous seed starting containers!  You will be amazed with how many containers you throw away every week that simulate the very same properties as big-name growing kits on the market.  I encourage everyone out there to tilt your heads slightly to the left, and examine your recycling in a different way.  Look at the containers you already have available and think creatively about how to use them.  Included below are a few "how-to" ideas to get you started. Each week, a new set of instructions will be posted below to provide you with a new method you can experiment with every week throughout April. A new link will appear below on the days marked in blue. Note the dates, and stay tuned! 

March 30 ---- Paper Towel Rolls  One Step Planting!  
Great for starting beans, peas, nasturtiums and potatoes (from quartered starters).
LINK -> Paper Towel Roll "Peat" Pots - HOW TO

April 6  ------  Seed Tape   One Step Planting!
Most effective when used to prepare carrots, leafy lettuces, spinach, radishes and onions.  Many annual flower seeds are tiny and work well using seed tape as well.  The tiny seeds of most herbs also thrive when planted using this method.  
April 13 ----- Gallon Milk Containers and Soda Bottles 
I prefer using these for tomatoes, since the tops can be laid back onto the container to create a greenhouse effect.

If you are concerned about cleaning your plastics, see Why Sanitize for quick tips on how to soak and sanitize plastic properly.  Click on the link below.

April 13 ---- Egg Cartons
Perfect for starting herbs.  This is the only way I plant my herbs.  Lettuce also likes to germinate in egg cartons, from my experience.   You do have to thin the seedlings when using this method, but the number of plants it produces make it well worth the effort.

April 20 ---- Newspaper   One Step Planting!
Great for potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and other squash/melons.  You can fold the edges high and fill with a low soil line to support the vines as the plant grows.  Another benefit to the newspaper method is the easy transplanting.  If you dampen the newspaper, and loosely rip the bottom, you can plant the whole thing in the garden.  No need to remove from the starter pot!

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