Prepping, homesteading and living the simple, green, independent life.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pop Bottle Seed Starting

I haven't been here for a while since school takes up so much of my time but projects continue and since I have a bit of a break before summer classes start I thought I'd post a bit.

I've got various projects on the go (for which I have little time for) like building a passive solar greenhouse/sunroom, a small pond,  putting in two raised beds in my front yard and seed starting.  Besides all of this, in the back of my head I'm constantly thinking about starting my own sustainability/resiliency consulting business.  All the projects will act as a showcase for clients once I launch it.

I decided to do seed starting this year because I want to really maximize my plantings and figured it would be much less expensive than buying all the plants already started.  Plus I wanted to get the experience and really show my daughters how plants grow and where food comes from.

I started off with a store bought seedling tray that could hold 50 pellets similar to this one at amazon.

Eventually I'd like to get a soil cube maker but I figured it would be best to go the traditional route before experimenting.  Plus while flimsy, the tray could be used over again as long as I was gentle with it.

So we about 3 weeks ago planted the seeds placing 2-3 seeds per pellet since I figured not all of them would germinate.  We planted broccoli, lots of cucumbers, and various peppers.  I figured we'd start in early April, they'd sprout a week or so later and have 4-5 weeks to grow before going outdoors....well, the cucumbers started growing after two days and after a week they were too big for the tray!
Plus the germination rate was almost 100%!  In the past while planting outdoors at least 1/3 didn't sprout so now I'm supposed to do some thinning out.  I'm actually considering not thinning to see how they will turn out.  I'm paranoid that separating them will harm the roots and kill both plants. 

The only thinning I've done so far is when it's obvious that the plant isn't doing well.  I think I'll stick with this and only thin when it becomes obvious that all the plants can't survive that close together.

Plus if I separate them all my 50 seed pellets will not become 100-150 individual plants and I was having a hard enough time thinking of where to transplant my cucumbers who were growing like mad.

What I wound up doing was collecting all the plastic pop bottles I could and turning them into mini-greenhouses.  I cut them in half and cut slots into the bottom half into which I slid the tops.

These seem to have worked pretty well and some of the cucumbers have even grown too big for them so I've removed the tops.  Hopefully in a couple of weeks I'll be able to plant them outdoors but with this crazy weather lately it seems we're getting colder as we get closer to summer!