Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fancy seed-starting kit it is not...

Pin It ... but it won't cost you $20 and will work just as well.

When I heard that indoor plants were part of the third grade curriculum where I used to teach, my heart stopped.  My coworkers had no way of knowing that I was a plant murderer, but surely by the end of this unit, they would.  As my friend tried to reassure me that the set-up was fool-proof, I was picturing my sweet, eager students with tears running down their faces, mourning their dead plants.

But my friend was right: unless you forgot to water them for a month, they weren't going to die.  And not just because they were brassica weeds, but because they came with a way of keeping the soil moist constantly, as delicate seedlings require.

After V. and I had spent all morning crushing organic material and folding it into our coconut fiber to make the perfect seedling soil, I decided I would construct some of these handy little contraptions.  Maybe this time, for the first time, my seedlings will survive long enough to make it to the garden.

Here is what you will need:
a plastic container with a lid (you will be cutting the lid) - take-out containers are sturdy and free
a piece of felt that is one-and-a-half times longer than your container (roughly)
a knife
Plants (can be in *plastic or fiber containers or cells)
First, cut a slit in the top of the container wide enough to fit the felt through.  I used the knive to pierce the plastic, then cut with the scissors.

 Second, saturate your felt by pouring water into the container.  Thread enough of the wet felt through the slit in the top to cover the entire top.  There should still be felt in the water in the container.  I inverted my tops, to keep the water from dripping down the sides.  It is in no way necessary to invert the top.
Last, arrange your pots so that they touch the felt.  In about an hour, the whole pot should be moist.  (See note below about plastic containers, if used.)

 Now, all you need to do is place them in a warm, sunny spot and make sure the base doesn't run out of water.  If the felt is dry, pour water over it and into the container.


*IF YOU USE PLASTIC CONTAINERS: cut a small strip of felt (about 1 inch long and 1/4 inch wide) per cell (if using connected cells) or individual container (like the above paper ones) and thread through the drainage hole in the bottom of the container.  The strip of felt must be able to touch the soil in the bottom of the container and the large piece of felt.  If there isn't a drainage hole, cut one.  It is easiest to do this before you fill the container with soil and seeds.

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