Thursday, April 11, 2013

starting seeds in egg cartons

It's that time of year again! Time to play in the dirt! I'm not quite sure what it is, but there's something that I absolutely love about gardening - squishing the soil between my fingers (no, I don't wear gloves), watching for the tiny little seedlings to emerge, the leaves and flowers grow, then the tiny fruits and vegetables start to form... Plus, then you get delicious fresh fruits and vegetables from your own yard! Maybe it's just the magic of watching life change and grow. Whatever it is, I have been so excited this week about getting things ready for my garden!

This year, most of my gardening will have to be container gardening. So we bought a few planters, and I'm planning to steal borrow a few from my mom that she doesn't use.

Since it's still too cold to plant anything outside yet (stupid snow predicted next week), we started some seeds inside. Last year, I wrote a post about starting seeds in strawberry containers. Well this year, we decided to use egg cartons.

They've already sprouted! I'm so excited! And so is Jack. We read Eric Carle's The Tiny Seed in preschool, and then planted our seeds. He loooooved filling the cartons with the soil once he realized it was okay that he was getting all dirty! He also helps me water them every day and gets so excited when he sees a new one coming up. And he keeps insisting that they're going to grow giant flowers which he will give to his grandmas. Too cute.

So why egg cartons instead of strawberry containers? A few reasons:
1. We had egg cartons and didn't have strawberry containers
2. The strawberry containers work well as little greenhouses for seeds that need to stay warm, but we weren't worried about that this year with the seeds we were planting
3. The egg cartons are biodegradable so we could theoretically just cut them apart and plant them. Although if we do that, I'll be sure to score them first so the roots can get out more easily.

What you'll need:
Cardboard egg cartons
Seed starting soil (I used Black Gold seedling mix)
Marker and/or pen

1. Use the scissors to cut the lids off the egg cartons and to poke holes in the bottom of each well. (We actually used a pen to poke the holes so Jack could do it himself.)

2. Use the marker or pen to write on the outside of each what type of seed you'll be planting (unless it's just one kind). I just wrote the first letter - Z for zucchini, L for lettuce, etc.

3. Fill each well with the soil.

4. Follow the directions on the seed packets for planting depth, and plant your seeds! Water, place in a sunny location, and wait for the magic! And of course, continue watering as the soil dries out.

5. When the weather is warm enough (or your garden is ready) transplant the little seedlings to your garden! You'll want to make sure they've spent some time outdoors before transplanting so they've started acclimating. Then either gently squeeze the dirt and plant up and out of the carton; or cut the carton apart, slice some stripes vertically to allow the roots to grow more easily, and plant in the garden!

Happy gardening!