Spring seeding & up-cycled seed starting pots

23 August 2018
When I first started gardening I mostly planted out from seedlings. I dabbled a little in seeds but waited until I had a few live plantings under my belt before taking that next step. However, I always knew I wanted to delve into starting from seed if only for the sheer variety that is available.

Over the years I've tried a few different ways and options for starting out seed. I've found that planting direct gives me very variable results so I generally start my seeds in smaller vessels and plant up or straight out. I now feel I've settled on a system that works for me and a big part of it is up-cycling.

Doesn't matter how many times I see it - still exciting to see a plant popping up.

This week I managed to get out and start my first run of spring seeds. It's a little later than I planned but I got there nevertheless. Yesterday I planted out:

  • Rainbow carrots
  • Baby carrots
  • Bulls Blood Beetroot
  • Radish
  • Kholrabi
  • Lettuce - tango & speckled trout
  • Red Bok Choy
  • January King Cabbage
  • Dill
  • Corriander
  • Basil

Getting my seed-starting on.

With most of these seeds I'll wait until they have got their first true leaves and then plant them up in slightly larger pots, then once they're a little more established, plant them out in the warm soil. Hopefully they'll be ready to plant out early-mid October. I wont plant up the carrots & beetroots though as they don't like their roots being disturbed. Instead I like to plant them into toilet paper rolls and then plant them straight into the ground. That way their roots don't get disturbed but I get a better germination rate. I've not had much success with planting these guys direct.

Toilet paper roll seed starting pots have been a great discovery. Particularly for  root veg, beans, peas and corn plants - pretty much any seeds that are recommended to plant direct. I can get better germination rates in the rolls and still plant out without disturbing roots. With beans and peas I can plant them out when they are a little bigger and so can withstand the birds a little better.

Sometimes I stuff a little newspaper in the bottom to hold the soil in. Today I wedged them into plastic fruit containers to hold the soil and provide warmth and protection to the seeds.

Toilet paper roll seed starters.

My other great up-cylced planting apparatus is plastic fruit boxes and punnets. Although I do try not to buy fruit in plastic I'm far far from perfect so these guys do add up. Plus, I'm yet to find a way to buy strawberries that aren't in punnets. Using these as seed planters does help to assuage my guilt a little for accumulating them. Once they are done in the garden I give them a rinse and recycle as usual but at least they've had another use (or that's what I tell myself at least).

The other benefit of these plastic containers is that they create a mini-greenhouse effect. So, in late winter I keep them closed and in the sun to provide some extra warmth. In late summer I keep them in the shade and they reduce the water loss, keeping moisture levels even to promote germination. Also, in summer I often place them on recylced meat trays with water in the bottom so they can wick up moisture as required.

Grow little buddies, grow.

In an ideal world I would have all this plastic use cut out but instead it feels a little better to re-use them. If you do better than me at keeping them out of your house I'm sure you could probably acquire some from friends and family if you wanted to give it a go.

I've talked about up-cylcing plastic milk cartons before and these are also handy for seed pots or covers. I like to use the wicking pot set-up for planting up seeds before they are big enough to plant out in the garden. And of course once I plant them out I like to use the top of the milk carton to provide a little protection from scratching and pecking invaders (and small children).

Do you upcycle in the garden?
Any good seed starting tips to share?

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