On Friday, I finally got my seeds started. Since we had an egg carton handy, I decided to try starting them in that.
Here’s what I did.
Step One – Pick Your Seeds
Since I already had quite a few old seeds lying around, I figured I’d try using them. I’m not entirely sure of if they’ll grow, but it’s worth a shot.
|An animated gif! Yay!|
I’d like some herbs inside, too, so I decided to pick a few herbs that I already had outside to also have them indoors all year round.
I even made an animated gif to show you what the seeds look like.
Step Two: Prepare the Carton
There’s not a lot to this step. Basically, make sure the carton is clean, then cut the cover and front tab off. You’ll be left with the tray where the eggs once were.
|The carton is ready.|
If you have a Styrofoam or plastic carton, poke holes in the bottom of each cup to provide drainage, if you decide to water your seeds from the top, or a spot for the water to absorb into, if you decide to water from below.
In my case, this carton is made out of sturdy recycled cardboard, so there’s no need for that step.
Step Three: Moisten the Soil
Yes, I know some people find the word “moist” gross, but it fits this situation.
I’m using Miracle Grow Potting Mix, but there are other brands, as well. You can probably make your own potting soil, if you have the right materials, as well.
It’s not a good idea to use soil from your garden, as it won’t retain moisture as well as potting soil does.
I just put some soil into a clean, empty ice cream bucket and added water until the soil clumped. You don’t want it to be too runny, but if it’s too dry, the seeds aren’t as likely to get enough water right off the bat.
|Appetizing, no? Well, it is for the plants. I’m sure we’d think ice cream would taste better.|
Step Three: Fill the Cups
This is pretty easy, if not a bit messy. All you’d need to do is add enough soil to each cup to give your seeds enough to start rooting in. Pat it in loosely, so it’s stable, but not too compact for young roots to grow.
I also added Popsicle sticks with the names of the seeds written on them. If your memory is anything like mine, there’s no way I’d remember what I put in each cup. The ones I have are actually from a craft store, but you may be able to save them up if your family enjoys the treats on a regular basis. Just clean them as best you can, and stick the unused end in the soil.
Step Four: Add Seeds
I just put the seeds on the surface of the dirt and gently pushed them through the surface. You can then cover them with a little more soil, if you’d like, but I wouldn’t layer it on too thick.
I put a couple of the larger seeds in their respective pots, and a few more of the smaller ones, so I could maximize my chances of getting something. When they sprout, I’ll pluck the smaller ones and leave the bigger plants to continue growing.
You can designate each cup for a particular plant, but I decided to work in rows of two. As I’d mentioned above, these are old seeds, and I’m not sure how many are still good.
Once I’d added all of the seeds, I stuck a Popsicle stick into one of the cups. I didn’t put one in each one, because I know I’d put the same type of seed into the cup next to it.
|I used a pencil, since that was the first thing I grabbed. A pen probably would have been a better idea.|
Step Five: Place ‘Em and Let ‘Em Grow!
When looking for a spot for your seedlings, you’ll want to be sure it gets lots of sun, is protected from being jostled, but that you can easily access it for daily watering. In my case, it’s the corner of my desk, since kitties aren’t able to get there, and it’s the sunniest part of the house.
A nifty trick to speed germination up a bit is to put the planter you’re using in a paper bag, make sure they’re well watered, and stick it in a dark place, like a closet, for a day or two. When you take them out, they’ll sprout more quickly. That worked wonderfully for me, the last time I started seeds early. I didn’t bother, this time. It’ll be a while until the ground is warm enough to do anything with anyway.
You can purchase growing trays from a gardening store, but I had a cut out bottom from some sort of plastic container that is the perfect size.
You’ll want to have something to put your egg carton in to protect the surface of the window sill, table or desk from water. It’s also a good idea in case you want to try watering your seeds by letting the soil absorb the water from below.
You do that by poring water into the plastic container and letting nature take its course from there. Once the soil feels moist, pour off the excess water to avoid mold growth.
|Grow, little seeds, grow!|
After the seedlings sprout, are big enough to transplant, and have been hardened properly, it’s time to put them in the ground. Depending on the material your egg carton is made out of, you may be able to just cut the cups apart, remove the bottom of the cup and plant the whole thing in the ground.
However, if your carton is made out of Styrofoam or plastic, pop the seedlings out, and use the carton for something else.