Start Seeds Indoors on the Cheap
Why Start Plants from Seeds?
It's early March in East Cackalacky. This is the time to get to work on the garden.
If you keep one, you plant things. That's what gardens are for. There are several ways to get the plants. You can root them from cuttings, buy them from a nursery, dig them up in the woods, steal them from the neighbors. My favorite way, though, is to sprout them from seeds. There are four good reasons to do it that way: you know what you get in a seed packet from a reputable grower; the seeds cost you next to nothing compared to seedlings; you can start as many as you like; you can give them away to your neighbors so they won't steal yours.
Starting from seeds is a breeze if you have a greenhouse. If like most you do not, it still is easy as can be, with a little imagination. Just make your own miniature greenhouse indoors. This article is meant to show you one way to do that.
Make A Miniature Indoor Greenhouse
First, get some seeds. I keep a culinary herb garden, so that is what I bought. They cost me not much over a dollar for each packet. I got seven: flat parsley, sweet basil, common thyme, coriander (often called cilantro in America), chives, Italian oregano, and marjoram.
Next, get some potting soil. I used some I had dumped from a pot of geraniums last year. It still had some of the little fertilizer beads in it, so I didn't add anything.
You'll need something into which to put your dirt. I saved some plastic foam egg cartons. Mine happened to have a dozen and a half eggs, and therefore little cavities, in each, but that doesn't matter. Use whatever you have. Fill them with the potting soil, and scrape it level, so each cavity is full but not overflowing.
They need to be enclosed in a clear, or clearish, container, somewhat like a greenhouse. I had some disposable plastic casserole dishes lying around the kitchen, so that is what I used. They have clear bases and translucent covers. You could just put plastic wrap over your egg cartons, of course, but I wanted to catch any dirt that might fall out, so I used another container for each of my little planters.
Mark your planters so you'll know what is in each. If as I did you put more than one kind of seed in each carton, divide up the pockets, draw a line between each section of them, and write the name of the plant on the side of the carton where its seeds go.
Now you're ready to be a gardener and plant something. For larger seeds, poke shallow holes in the dirt of each pocket of the egg cartons. A tool that makes planting holes in the ground by hand is sometimes called a "dibble." A pencil makes a good one for seeds. I put five of the big seeds, e.g. the coriander, in each egg pocket. For the tiny seeds, such as those of oregano which are no larger than a grain of sand, just sprinkle eight or ten over the dirt in each pocket.
Moisten the planted soil. Do not hold it beneath the kitchen faucet to do that; it and your seeds will wash out. Use a sprayer instead.
Cover your planters. Place them in front of a south window where they'll get plenty of sun and warmth. Check them every day to make sure they remain moist, spraying in more water as they require.
Pretty soon, in a week or two, you'll see sprouts. Let them grow big enough to transplant, weeding out crowded extras if you need to, and when the danger of frost is past set them in your garden.
That's all there is to it. I told you it's easy as can be. You can't go wrong.