This week is typically the week I start my summer garden seeds. Starting seeds indoors is easy and inexpensive. There isn't any need to purchase seed starting kits, peat moss pots or a lot of other fancy stuff. Let me show you how to do it the frugal way!
The first thing you need are pots for the soil. The seedlings get a better start if you use a pot that can be planted directly into a larger pot when the time comes. Peat moss pots work, but they cost money. I use newspapers instead! Here's how:
Start with a single sheet of newspaper. You will want both sides of the fold. Cut the newspaper into 5 or 6 inch strips.
Excuse the 'toys' at the top of the picture. A member of my household was trying to 'help' me with this project. She kept bringing me things so I would pay attention to her. She was sitting next to me when I took the picture. You can see one of her paws at the bottom left. Anyway, cut a bunch of these. You will need one strip for each seedling pot.
Next, you will need to have a form to shape the pot. You have lots of choices here. The easiest is a soda can. Here is a picture of some others that will work.
The pot maker wooden form (in the box) cost me about $10 a few years back. Save yourself the money and use a soda can. A canning jar will work too. So will a plastic water bottle. Each of these will make a slightly different size pot. I am going to use a soda can for this post.
Place the can on the paper so that half the can is on the paper and half the can is off the paper. Roll the paper around the can.
When rolling, make sure the paper is fairly snug against the can.
Now, take the paper that is hanging off the end of the can and fold it under. So the pot doesn't fall apart later, start the fold at the end of the rolled newspaper. (If it does start to fall apart, you can use a piece of tape to hold it together.)
Fold it all around the can and press the edges together to make sure they stay together.
You can put a piece of tape on the bottom if it needs it. After you make a few of these, you will get the hang of it and you won't need the tape. Gently pull the can out of the newly made pot.
It is now ready to fill with dirt! You can fill with the dirt of your choice. No need to use fancy potting soil. I have started seedlings in 100% peat moss with excellent results. I have also started seedlings in 100% compost with excellent results. You can make your own compost from leaves and vegetable scraps if you would like. Start a compost pile this year and next year you won't have to purchase any potting soil! You can read about how to start your own compost pile here.
Plant the seeds according to the directions on the package. You can't plant them all the same. For example, tobacco seeds are not planted at all. They are sprinkled on the top of the soil. Tobacco seeds need light to germinate. I usually cover the tomato seeds with about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of soil.
Don't forget to label the pot with what you planted. That way you won't be guessing what it is in a month's time. (Believe me, you can't tell the difference between two varieties of the same type of plant when they are seedlings!)
Water the seeds so they stay moist. Don't water them like a plant. Gently sprinkle the top of the soil every other day or so. The seeds won't need more then a gentle sprinkle until they have germinated. I have had better luck with my seedlings germinating quickly when I cover them with plastic wrap.
In this picture I have a few tomatoes, tobacco, parsley and some white marigolds. I still have more tomatoes to start as well as the rest of the herbs. I will also start some regular yellow marigolds for bug control later on in the summer garden.
Place the seeds in a sunny window. I put mine in a west facing window. They should germinate in a few days!