Starting Seeds (without flimsy trays)
I have been somewhat quiet on the blog the last few weeks. My spare time has been spent preparing for gardening season and 10 weeks of being a soccer coach. I use the title “soccer coach” loosely since it is U6 (under 6 years old). It’s actually more like herding cats, only slightly more challenging (and fun). I have a feeling my blogging will be slower during the growing season, busier during the winter when I can’t get outside and need an outlet. :)
Last year, I tried starting seeds for our first “real” garden. Six raised beds, 4’x8′, sub-irrigated (post to come). The garden was quite successful, but it was not because of my seed starting. I bought several of the flimsy trays from the garden center and put them in our living room windows. Some grew, most did not. A fellow gardening friend gave me some of her 7000 successful starts (thank you, again) and I bought the rest. So, I was determined to find a better way this year–in the form of a grow light shelving area in the garage.
But, the best part of this project was the soil cube maker I stumbled upon. For about $30, I could make my own seed starting “pots” without creating waste, (waste including those flimsy trays that barely make it through one season before needing to be thrown away). I used some plastic storage tubs with clear lids–size doesn’t matter, but you will want to make sure it has enough headroom for the seedlings to grow. In the containers I used, I was able to squeeze 40 cubes in–5 x 8. A little smashing together was required, but it doesn’t matter if they aren’t perfectly square (I keep telling my OCD tendencies that this is irrelevant). :) Then, using half compost and half peat moss, add enough water to make it a sloppy concrete consistency and pack the soil cubes. Fill each cube until it’s full, then flip it into your container, press down, and you have 4 little cubes with a depression in it for the seed! Drop in one seed per cube, cover, and wait. Boom. There is enough moisture from the cube creation that you will not have to water for many days. The seeds will start germinating well before more water is needed.
I placed mine in the garage under a LED shop light and a LED red/blue grow light. I used all LED lighting to reduce energy use. Seedlings can start with just the shop light, but the additional grow light gives the extra boost needed after they start growing and is critical for blooming (do you smell my next project brewing? LOL).