So now that we have reached this spring/summer type season I have planted my garden and flower seeds. Each year I get obsessed to plant some seeds. To me it is such a miracle to watch that tiny, little seed be planted, watered, and in about a week there is the first bit of green peaking up out of the soil. It doesn't matter if it is a very tiny little black speck of a seed, or the larger pumpkin, squash or gourd seeds. To me each one that sprouts is a miracle.
This year I saved several of the 2 litter soda bottles, cut them in half, added seed starter soil in the bottom half, plus the seeds, then slit the top on one side so that it would slide easily into the bottom half to make a small greenhouse. I do water the soil until it is very moist before I add the seeds. As seed starter soil is very dry you might need to stir it to help it absort the water. I use my hands to mix it up sort of like a bread dough. If you wait to water until after the seeds are planted the water will move the seeds around to different areas of the pot. It is best to make a few holes in the bottoms of the bottles to allow for excess water dranage and put the pot onto a saucer to catch the water. I use any kind of plastic container I can find for a 'saucer' like the containers that meat come in, or other plastic containers that are normally pitched in the trash. (Another way to re-cycle!) I did remove the soda bottle lids so that some of the moisture could escape from my make-shift greenhouse. You can do the same thing with other plastic bottles like gallon milk jugs, but I like the soda bottles as you can see though them (the green ones a more difficult) and you can use markers to write the names of the seeds on the top and bottom half so you know what kind of seed you have planted. Make sure they are in a fairly sunny location in the house but not to cool or hot.
I think each and every one of them came up. After a week most were up but I kept the greenhouse top on for another week to allow the baby plants to get a good start. You want to make sure they don't get too wet from the greenhouse effect or too dry. After about a week I took the tops off and allowed the plantlets more sun as when they go outside here they will get lots of hot sun and dry weather. This allows them to get used to our desert living gradually. After 2 weeks I start setting them outside on our patio for part of the day. Start with about 4 hours in the morning gradually increasing by several hours each day. I don't put them out if the weather is to drastic as when we have rain or bad wind. Now that they are into the third week I will start letting them spend the night outside. I make sure to watch the weather or some how check and make sure it won't be too cold for them at night. I prefer a temperature of at least 45 at night for them to stay out. If it should dip back lower I will bring them back in. As we don't have a roof on our patio I will bring them in if it should rain or get to windy.
Yesterday I have to replant one of my pumpkins as it got way to big/tall for it's little greenhouse. I put it in a 1 gallon plastic pot that I had saved in the pot pile. This happens faster to the larger plants like pumpkins, squash or gourds. The smaller seeds like tomatoes, cucumbers, or watermelon or flowers take longer to get to the transplant size.
All the seeds are now putting on their second leaves. If you arn't formular with growing seeds youwill notice that the second leaves are totally different in shape and size to the first leaves. All seeds, for what ever reason, the first leaves are different to the leaves that they have as plants. There are all kinds of theories as to why they do this. To me it is just part of the miracle of plants. But it does make it more difficult to recognize what kind of plant you are growing.
I also took several of the 1 gallon pots that I have saved over the years, filled them with potting soil three fourths of the way up and then with seed starter soil the top one forth and planted seeds in them, some being the same type of seeds I had started in the house. I have kept these pots of seeds out on the patio to sprout when they can according to our weather. The first ones are now coming up.
In the next couple of weeks I transplant the seedlings from their small pots to their permanent home in the garden. Some of the seedlings will find homes in some larger pots as here in the desert I have found that many garden plants and flowers do better in containers. Especially tomatoes. All will grow, flower and produce in pots if that is the way you want to do your garden rather than to dig a big patch of ground for a garden in the traditional way. Sometimes it is a lot easier to water and fertilize this way.
What ever way you decide to grow your seeds or if you prefer to buy them already up and ready to transplant to a bigger pot or directly into your garden, growing plants is a wonderfully way to add to your groceries or just to experience one of the miracles of nature.