Friday, April 30, 2010

Seed Starting With Recyclables

So I have lots of seeds - and I mean LOTS of seed (see previous post). I decided that I should probably try to do something with them.

I tried to plant them in starter mix re-fill cells and peat pellets. Neither of these was working very well. I even had the fancy humidity domes. Not much luck.

What did work were the following techniques:

Milk jug starters:
I learned about using milk jugs for winter sowing while reading blogs. I even saved a bunch over the fall and winter months just for winter sowing. AND...
I never got around to it. But I thought that if they worked well for that, they might make great greenhouses for starting things like my nightshades.

They were!
Brandy Wine tomatoes
Listada de Gandia eggplant

I cut the jugs three inches from their bottoms, filled the bottoms with starter mix, planted the seeds, taped the jug back together using packaging tape, then watered with filtered water in a spray bottle. I placed them in a window and in a couple of weeks I got these beautiful little seedlings. I now have them potted up.
Other humidity domes:
Humidity domes are great for getting seeds and seedlings the constant moisture that they need. Here are a couple other items that I have used. fudge sundaes!

Rotisserie chicken. These containers even come with vents. All rotisserie containers are not the same. I found that some are really brittle - the best ones come from Sam's Club. And their chicken is really good too!

Pre-sprouting in coffee cake containers:
I saved these coffee cake containers because I thought that they might make nice peat pellet humidity domes. Instead, I found that they make great seed sprouters. There are two ways that I sprout. The first is the technique that I used last year: mass sprouting. I used Viva paper towels, sprinkle the seeds over one half, fold the other half over the seeds, spray with water, closed container.

Beets are easy to space when they are pre-sprouted. They also come up faster.
This year, I had more seeds that I wanted to try sprouting, but I didn't need a whole tray of them. So, I made toilet paper packets that I could label. All these seeds shown here I also tried to start in starter mix with absolutely no luck.

But this worked - really well! I planted the sprout, tp and all, into starter cells.
Most seeds germinate faster using this method, and some seeds only germinated for me using this method.

Why stop at plastics?
I buy these fantastic sweet onions during the winter, but I almost always end up not using them all before they get to this point. It's happened to you too, I know it. I have planted green onions and shallots into the garden to refresh them in the past, so why not sweet onions?
I stripped the onion to find the separate baby bulbs. I cut through the rooty base making sure to leave roots on each bulb.

They are now planted and should give me onions in a few of months. Hopefully they will be the same yummy, sweet gourmet flavor that I love.

And of course, the best part of all this is that it saves money and stretches the usefulness of things. Gotta love that!


Blogger Robin said...

You do have a lot of seeds! Do water them from the bottom? This seems to work best for seedling.

Good Luck and don't give up!

5/01/2010 6:26 AM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Robin, for starting seeds I spray the paper directly. For seedlings in soil, I do try to water from the bottom. In the milk jugs you can only water directly (I don't punch drain holes in these), but it seems to work just fine. In my starter cells, hardly anything sprouted; but what did sprout did not damp off even when I water directly. I think the main problem may have been keeping the seed and starting seedling moist enough. They probably died before even breaking the surface.

5/01/2010 10:26 AM  
Blogger Roses and Lilacs said...

I was just about to throw away some onions that had been stored too long. Tonight I will try your idea of regrowing them.

5/03/2010 10:45 AM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Roses and Lilacs, I knew I wasn't the only one. This technique worked fantastic for the green onions and shallots. I can't believe that I used to just compost them.

5/03/2010 12:25 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home