This is our first guest post by Ellie Martin Cliffe. Ellie has written several articles for Birds & Blooms in the past and now produces great products for us like Grow It, Cook It and Garden All-Stars for our books department. Thanks Ellie!
This morning, I woke up and immediately I knew: It was time do something springy. Today I would plant my tomato and pepper seeds for our container garden. Ian and I had already saved seeds from a bell pepper and a hot chili we cooked with, so I ran out to Stein’s (a local garden center chain) and bought container-friendly tomato seeds, plus some tomatillo ones (right…not official tomatoes, but something that’s easy to start from seed that we want to make room for on the balcony). Here’s how I did it.
These are the supplies I used…pretty self-explanatory except maybe the aluminum sheet cake pan (with a cover) and the circular brown things. Those are cut-up toilet paper tubes that I’ve been saving for this very purpose. Though peppers and tomatoes transplant pretty well, one can always use an extra safeguard. When the seedlings are ready to be moved into larger containers, I can just plop each tube in the soil without disturbing the root system, and the cardboard will decompose over time.
First, I spread a thin layer of soil in the tin.
Next, I filled the tubes with soil using the cute little hand trowel Ian bought me for my birthday.
These are the bell pepper seeds we so lovingly cleaned and dried. My dad taught me this trick. I loved that we could taste what we’d be growing — no guesswork required.
The seeds need to be 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep, so I just sprinkled a few into each tube, poked them in a tiny bit, and added a thin layer of soil from the tin.
Last step: watering. A slow, steady stream into each tube does the trick. I’ll check them daily to be sure the moisture level is good. The soil should be damp, but not soaked.
I covered the tin to keep the moisture in and to reduce the draft. There’s a hole on one edge of the cover, so the air should circulate sufficiently. I’ll keep an eye on this, too. The tin is in the sunniest window, right next to Sprout. Some of the seeds may germinate in just three days, according to their packets. I’ll update you soon!
Have you ever started seeds? What were your tricks?
Ellie Martin Cliffe is a Milwaukee-area editor and writer. When she isn’t wielding her (red) pen, Ellie can be found in the garden, at any concert that showcases a fiddle, playing pub trivia, or in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes. She and her husband, Ian, live in a comfy flat with their homegrown grapefruit tree, Sprout.