Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Start Those Seeds with a Miniature Greenhouse

The kids watering newly planted herb seeds
I admit it. I'm having a really difficult time not spending every waking minute outside (cold climate readers - please refer to the post about hope and patience). I want to garden more and more as the daytime temperatures start to warm up. The kids and I decided that we would start our spring seedlings today. Here's how we created a miniature greenhouse for our seedlings.

You will need the following:

- cardboard egg cartons, or compostable seedling containers
- seeds
- clear plastic bin with holes (or let your kids shoot up a regular plastic bin with a bb gun. Just kidding. But it could work. Maybe.)
- tray or old cookie sheet (FYI, I keep old cutting boards and cookie sheets for occasions such as this).
- dirt from your yard or potting soil
-little helpers
Watered seed containers on a tray (2 types of watermelon and tomatoes)

While this project could be completed in about 5 minutes without helpers, the half-an-hour and mess caused by little ones helps encourage them to a) enjoy the outdoors, b) give mom a break for half-an-hour, c) contribute to the family, and d) begin their love of gardening and natural food.

Begin by filling the egg cartons or seedling containers with dirt. This is best for little hands and little shovels. Read the seed packet for seed depth recommendations, basically ignore those, and plant the seeds. Water and keep the soil moist until you have seedlings and they're ready to put in the ground.

Seedlings covered with a plastic bin, our greenhouse
Here's the great part about the tray and the bin. The bin acts as a miniature green house, allowing air to pass through but keeping most of the moisture in with the seeds. It also keeps birds and other critters from bothering your seeds. The tray keeps the seed containers in one place, and it's easy to bring the seeds inside if there is a late freeze. Northerners, it may not be too early to start your seeds indoors. Ask at the local nursery (the infants at church can't help you, so be sure you go to the kind of nursery that sells plants).

By the way, one additional tip--if you do expect a freeze, wrap a string of Christmas lights around your tree or plants then cover with a sheet or frost cloth. With this method, you can raise the temperature around the plants by several degrees. This only works with the old school Christmas lights, not LEDs. 

Happy gardening!

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