This past weekend, I started my seeds. After years of killing all my plants, I have successfully gotten to the point where I now kill only some of my plants. Huge improvement!
|I use my canning jars as seed starters.|
- Little plastic starting pots are expensive (okay, not hugely expensive, but they're not free), and they don't let the seedling grow much. I've since learned that people who know what they're doing will eventually move seedlings to larger pots, calling this "up potting". Too much work for me.
- Wooden salad bowls I no longer used were both pretty and free, but the plants that started in them all died quickly.
- I've saved little plastic tubs from various foods -- yogurt, for example. But as I work to eliminate my trash, I have fewer of these, and the assorted sizes were difficult to store.
Two years ago, I was casting about for a way to start my seeds and remembered my large stash of canning jars. I figured, "what the heck?", and tried them. To my utter surprise, I had the best year ever with my seedlings. I haven't looked back since.
First, I put in potting soil and 2-3 seeds per jar -- I know some places recommend more seeds, followed by thinning. I don't have the heart to deliberately kill something green that has managed to survive my attempts to accidentally kill it. So I practice plant contraception instead (or is that plant abstinence?). Once I've poked the seeds into the dirt, then I add a bit of water.
|Adding water. Note the canning funnel on the left for quick soil transfer.|
The cool thing that happens next is the potting soil floats up on top of the water. This used to worry me, but after two years of not-total-disaster, I now just think it's cool. When the roots start growing, the water at the bottom will disappear into the soil.
|The soil is floating on a half-inch of water.|
Last year, I planted one dozen jars of tomatoes. That felt like a lot -- and it was -- but we love tomato sauce, so I'm doubling the number this year. (We don't get a enough tomatoes from our CSA to bother canning those). This is two-dozen jars of tomato seeds, in my southern window:
|Move the tomatoes into the light.|
|Eggplants, peppers, jalapenos, and melons, all getting ready to grow. Or maybe, to die spectacularly.|
All the seeds I planted so far this year are leftover from last year. Ditto for the potting soil. So essentially, the cost of gardening so far this year is $0.
This whole process of starting my plants in the same jars where they'll wind up again feels a little bit like cannibalism -- reminds me of the comedienne A. Whitney Brown, who said, "I'm not vegetarian because I love animals. I'm vegetarian because I hate plants." But me, I'm rooting for my plants. Grow, baby, grow!
[Today I linked up with Frugally Sustainable].