Saturday, March 31, 2012

Preparing the Seedlings

I love plants. I love watching things grow and flourish, especially when they start out as a tiny little seed. 

We purchased our house in April of 2010, and we started a garden that very year. I had been doing my garden research for a few months (yes, even before we had the house) and had a rough sketch of raised garden beds that I would want for growing vegetables. My awesome, and ever-so-handy, husband built the beds for me and spent LOTS of energy filling them with dirt. Poor thing. This is a picture of what it looked like in June of 2010, when I had put my seedlings in the ground. 

We are pregnant this year, so I am not being as daring with my garden. I'm not sure how much time I will have to take care of it, but I definitely want some of our basics that we can enjoy this summer. Also, I think it will be fun while I'm on maternity leave (assuming I have a few free moments) and that I would be sad that I didn't do it in case I do have the time. We will see!

I figured I would show how I do my seedlings, on the cheap! Now seedlings may not be the most expensive thing ever, but I do enjoy feeling that I'm saving a few bucks anyway. 

Toilet Paper Rolls
Potting Soil
Plastic Trays ($.33 each)
Seeds, varying depending on your preference

How to: 
The first step is to cut into the toilet paper rolls by about 1/2" every 1/2" around the edge (of only one end) like so: 

Next you start at one tab and fold it inside of the roll, and move to your right pushing each tab in. This creates a spiral at the bottom, where the tabs all overlap. When the roll is stood up straight, the tabs will be pushed flush with the plastic tray. This will close the bottom so that the dirt doesn't fall out. Here is a picture to show the folded tabs, prior to filling with dirt. 

Mark each roll with the name of the plant that it will now be housing, using the Sharpie. Next you will put as many rolls as possible into the plastic tray, and tie them together with ribbon, yarn, whatever you have available to you. This is key because it keeps the rolls up straight, otherwise they will tip over. Now you can fill them with dirt. I try to fill them about 1/2 way or 3/4 of the way with the potting soil. 

The fun part! The actual planting! Follow the directions on the seed packets, some need to be about 1/4" deep, some 1" deep. Follow the directions, and cover up the seeds as directed. Of course, make sure that the seed packet matches up with the name of the plant that you wrote on the side of the roll. 

Water the seedlings, and place in a sunny area. If you have a plastic cover to keep over them, even better! Here is a picture of my first batch (from 2010): 

A few things to point out. 
  • Keep them moist to ensure that they germinate, but you do not want to grow any mold. Be careful about the amount of water you use, just keep an eye on it. 
  • The paper roll will hold the dirt in, but once the seeds sprouts roots they may come through. This is fine, and you want this to happen as they grow. You will end up planting these directly into the ground, and the paper roll will help protect the roots from weeds growing in but still allow your plant's roots to grow out of the paper roll. The paper roll will eventually rot away and you won't even know it was there. 
  • When you finally do plant these, you will want to cut the paper roll to be flush with the top of the dirt. If you do not do this, you will be trapping water inside and cause the seedling to rot. You want to allow the water to move along the surface of your garden as usual. 
  • You will want to "harden" these seedlings outside before planting, as you would with other seedlings. Just think of these as living in a different little paper roll house. 
I will try to post updates as my seedlings progress. Hopefully they will take off this year, you never know. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!! If you're curious, this is a picture of those same seedlings above (planted 6/16/10) a month later, on 7/15/10. 

PS - Thank you to Ashley and David for helping me this year! And to Dawnelle for venturing into seedlings with me this year. It will be fun! 

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