What You Need Before You Seed

Friday, March 16th, 2018

What You Need Before You Seed – Choosing Containers

Small Plastic Pots

A trip to any garden center or gardening website can be overwhelming with all the choices offered. Should you start seeds in trays, peat pots, jiffy pellets, or plastic pots? Should you make your own compostable pots with a nifty tool and recycled newspaper? Egg cartons?

While the idea of peat pots and other materials that break down in the soil sounds appealing, many growers have found that the roots of seedlings in those containers can be stunted. And what beginner hasn’t been discouraged by failure with those pesky jiffy pellets? Then there’s the expense of buying new pots every year to add to the headache.

In general, plastic containers are more reliable, and have the benefit of being reusable year after year, after a sanitizing bath. (See our post on germination tips.) You can purchase growing trays and containers, or get creative and re-purpose plastic containers that you may have around the house. Any small containers that hold 1/3-1/2 cup (like yogurt cups) would work, as long as you poke drainage holes in the bottom.

You’ll want to have a tray to hold all these containers, so you can water and move them easily. Some ideas are new kitty litter trays, old casserole dishes, and serving trays. If you’re handy with tools you can build your own simple trays from scraps of lumber, leaving 1/4” gaps between the bottom boards. You’ll want to add a waterproof liner.

Once your containers are sanitized, fill them to the top with moist seed-starting mix then gently tap down to remove air pockets. Add a final layer of mix to 1/4-inch from the top, plant your seeds and water. Ta-da!

Bonus Tip: Planting Mix!

You’ll need to use fresh seed starting mix every year, and it’s easy to make your own. Start with peat moss or coir, and add compost that’s been heated to 150 degrees to kill any weed seeds. Once you’ve planted your seeds, top off with a layer of vermiculite, to help absorb and retain moisture.

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