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It’s finally starting to warm up outside, so it’s time to get ready for one of my favorite parts of Spring weather: gardening
! It’s not warm enough in Philly yet to plant directly into the ground (well, pots) but it’s definitely about that time to start your garden indoors. I’m a plant nut, so I love getting my hands dirty and growing my plants myself rather than purchasing pre-grown starters elsewhere.
If you wanna take the simplest route, you can definitely just grab one of those table top greenhouse starter kits, but I’m not a huge fan. I’ve found that the few times I’ve used them, I ultimately had to start half my plants over because they got too leggy (aka really long and skinny) from one side not getting enough light. After failing that way, I’ve taken to starting my plants with an improvised “mini-greenhouse” method and have found a lot of success, partially because of the ability to control and move around the plants much more freely.
If you’re interested in trying, here’s what I do!
1. Pick your seeds! You can use this guide here to help you decide the best time to plant your crops. Because I started in March, the plants I picked included tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, and basil.
2. Grab the rest of your supplies. I bought two dozen small clear party cups like these from Walgreens, bulk peat pellets, and have collected probably 40 different types of seeds over the last 2 years (not kidding about the plant nut thing). (Any type of cup would probably work, as long as it’s clear to let light in!)
3. Soak those peat pellets in water until they’ve absorbed as much as they can, then pull back the covering so the top is fully exposed. Take a fork, toothpick, or whatever other tool, and soften up and separate the dirt.
4. Dig a tiny hole, drop in two or three seeds, then cover with dirt. Don’t sweat it if/when multiple plants sprout, you’ll just prune back the weakest ones later!
5. Now drop your newly seeded peat pellet into a plastic cup, and cover the top with plastic wrap, being careful to keep them covered tight! Repeat for however many plants you feel like starting! I did two for each type. Label the cups however you prefer (I used a white paint sharpie, but you can use stickers or tape) and place in a warm window where they’ll get a lot of light.
Because they’re covered and there’s no holes for moisture to get out, the cups will basically act as little self sustaining green houses now! You can shift the cups around for light purposes, but otherwise you can pretty much set them and forget them for a while. They don’t even need to be watered!
I like to leave my plants alone inside the cups until they’re pushing against the plastic wrap “roof”. At that point, I tend to pull the covering off and depending on the root situation, give them another couple weeks to grow or just transplant them into their final pot right then!
Let me know if you try out your starters this way! I’d love to hear success (and failure) stories, as well as hear any suggestions you might have! Happy planting!!
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