I've saved the cell packs and plant trays that I could for a couple of years, dreaming of the day I might have a greenhouse. Of course the chickens got in my she-shed and destroyed many of them. So when I was browsing through Home Depot, imagine my disappointment that one plastic plant tray with cell packs was almost $6! Then you add the soil and if you're buying seeds then it's not an inexpensive project for me to fill the new 12' x 16' greenhouse with plants!
The professional nursery up the road was nice enough to sell me a couple of huge bags of the perfect seed starting mix, so I went to work filling my saved containers with dirt and seeds. When I ran out of plastic trays I began to look around for what else I may have that could make a suitable substitution.
I requisitioned Mike's mortar mixing tray to dump my soil into. These are a great deal at about $15 at Lowe's or Home Depot!
I cut some holes (in the form of X's with a razor knife) in the bottoms of some salad containers and pastry containers I happened to have in the kitchen. In some cases I left the lids on to form mini greenhouses, while I cut out the very tops of the lids in others, trying to see what might work better.
By leaving the tops attached and cutting out just the very top, it doubles the depth of the container.
You can also buy plastic write-on plant markers, but they're pretty expensive. I went to the craft store and scored a box of 300 large wooden popsicle sticks for $4.
Seeds can be really expensive. I bought some "Moon and Stars" watermelon seeds and was disappointed to find that I had paid $4.39 for SEVEN SEEDS. That's why I console myself with the fact that if the plant does well then I'll save my seeds for next year and not have to buy them again.
Replanting your own seeds will, over a period of years, result in plants that are ideally suited to your particular soil, weather and conditions, making better and better seeds for you. I'm a cheapskate but I am willing to pay more for non-GMO, heirloom plants and collect odd things to grow and enjoy.
I went to Habitat for Humanity's ReSTORE hoping to find some cheap flower pots or other items I might be able to use. What I found were planting pots and trays made of compressed paper; they were marked down from $8 to $2 so I bought a few of these as well. And the Lime-A-Rita 6 pack is working out just fine for holding these nasturtiums. Of course I bought these 6 packs just because I wanted the cartons to try out.
If you look at the top of the photo above, you'll see some celery growing. When you buy a stalk of celery cut off all the stalks but leave 2" or so at the base and plop them in a jar of water and as you can see they'll regrow for you. These will be going in the garden in a couple of weeks.
I have run out of space. I've got double layers of shelves on 3 sides of the greenouse and they're all full. Now seedlings are going on the floor, on an old ladder and my grandkids' stepstool. I hope they don't have to wash their hands when they visit this weekend.
Here's a list of what I've started in the greenhouse so far:
- About 25 varieties of tomatoes
- Peppers, including red bell, small pimiento, jalapeno and cayenne
- Yellow straight neck squash
- Black zucchini AND yellow zucchini
- Several kinds of muskmelons (cantaloupe, honedew, and 3 kinds that my friend brought me from China)
- Corn (bantam white and glass gem)
- Watermelon (a giant version and Moon & Stars)
- Pumpkins (white giant, orange giants and pie pumpkins)
- Herbs (tarragon, rosemary, lavender, oregano, sage, dill, basil)
- Flowers: petunias, flowering sage, 4 kinds of cosmos, lavatera, canterbury bells, several kinds of sunflowers, poppies, impatiens, nasturtiums, marigolds, balsam, convulvus, amaranth, and LOADS OF ZINNIAS (about 6 different types of zinnia seeds I bought, plus a few trays from my own seeds I saved)
Want to know where I'm putting them? Check out my April garden plan, which helps me map out my veggies. Sometimes I can stick to my plan, sometimes my rebelious side emerges and I change it all up.
The flowers will just go all over the place, as usual.