Wednesday, February 09, 2011

More Gardening Projects

Yup, gardening fever shows no signs of abating. I've been starting seedlings, transplanting, making new biodegradable pots and reading every gardening book or magazine I can get my hands on. I've made lists, drawn layouts for the vegetable garden and researched ways to recycle, upcycle and generally repurpose stuff for use in the garden.

At left is a picture of my new mini greenhouse hard at work sheltering my first transplants. After the little seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, I move them out from the big germinating grow light set up and move them to the transplant set up. I purchased this inexpensive shelving unit from The Greenhouse Megastore for under $50. It is not the sturdiest shelving unit in the world but I bought it mostly for the three covers that came with it: A clear plastic cover, a black mesh cover and a solid black cover. I plan on moving this unit out of the basement and onto the deck later this spring and use it to harden off the seedlings before planting. I figure I can always find a sturdier shelving unit (or make one) later that I can still use the covers on. I bought very inexpensive florescent fixtures and hung them from the wire shelves to provide light for the plants until they are sturdy enough to bring upstairs into my 4 season porch. Having kitties means I have to protect these babies until they are too big for bratty cats to uproot.

My other big project is making more biodegradable pots for transplants. With a family of 6, we tend to accumulate more grocery bags than we can reuse. So I've been cutting them up and making little square pots out of them. Each paper bag yields 8 three inch pots or 24 one and a half inch pots.

I carefully open the bottom seams of the bag, and then cut down the side seam to open the bag up. I carefully peel away the handles, if the bag has them. I cut the bag in half lengthwise once and widthwise twice to make 8 nine inch (approximately) squares.

Then I fold the 9-inch squares in thirds in both directions. I cut one crease on each side to make flaps that can then be wrapped around the outside of the pot and stapled or taped. I'm not too fussy about these, since they are going to be filled with dirt and eventually rot away in the ground, so rough edges and uneven sides don't bother me. I use little staples from a tiny stapler that I figure will rust away very quickly underground. They are so fine, I am sure they won't last more than a year.

I set these pots in aluminum catering pans I bought in bulk at a party store. Then I can just pour water into the pan and let the moisture wick up into the pots, to keep from disturbing the little seedlings. The aluminum pans reflect the florescent light up and around, so it magnifies the light somewhat. I may end up adding some tin foil tents to the set up, just to further magnify the light from these low wattage florescent fixtures.

Well, there you have it. How to get a gardening fix when you live in the frozen tundra of Minnesota and your vegetable garden is still 3 feet under snow and the outside temperature is 3 degrees Fahrenheit.

1 comment:

Rani said...

Yes yes yes! I just bought my first gardening magazine of the season today (Martha). This, of course, does not include all of the wonderful dreamy catalogs that come pouring in.

My seedling are always long and leggy and flop over. I've given it up. I'm VERY curious to see how that whole set up works. Expense has kept me from setting up a true grow lab. But oh, those babies. May I come and just bury my face in them please?