Here is another guest post by the lovely Andrea Parrish. She writes here on occasion to scratch a blogging itch she has, but otherwise lacks the time to dedicate to a full time blog (probably because she has a day job and several personal businesses.) She is a fellow bicycle commuter, whole/slow/natural food advocate, entrepreneur and all together brilliantly creative woman, not to mention one of my very best friends.
Lately, my husband and I have found ourselves going through apples (and other fruit) at a prodigious rate. This could be due to the fact it’s Spring again, or it could be my rediscovered love of green smoothies. Either way, we’ve ended up with several of these apple cases from our local CostCo. When putting them out for recycling, I realized that their size and shape would likely make them perfect little greenhouses to start our seeds in. So, in early April, that’s exactly what we decided to give a try.
First, we used an icepick to poke a single hole in the bottom of each depression for drainage. Then we filled that half with soil, buried the seeds, and misted heavily with a spray bottle. Then we closed the top to create a little mini-greenhouse, and stored away the trays in our seed starting room (yay for artificial sun!). The spot where the apple trays had been labeled made for a very convenient spot to label the trays to keep everything organized. We misted the seeds once a day, and generally waited. It only took a few days, and soon we had seedlings.
As soon as the seedlings started to get too tall, we used twigs to prop the tops open a bit, so there was still a greenhouse effect, but to give them some room to breathe. Propping the tops open also allowed us to put a very gentle fan on the seedlings, so they would develop stronger stalks. The design of the trays meant the pressure from the fan wasn’t evenly spaced, but it did still help.
By transplant day, most of the seedlings appeared to be doing very well. Almost everything germinated, and we discovered that the shallow, scooped design of the trays made pulling the seedlings out for transplanting very easy. These transplants also seem to be doing slightly better than the “traditionally” grown transplants in deeper pots. Our best guess is this is because the roots are so much closer to the soil, and it is naturally loosened up, that it’s growing into the surrounding ground more easily. Or it could be a fluke, since not everything was done in a perfectly controlled environment. Either way, however, we are definitely going to pack up these trays and continue to use them. Recycled, sturdier than the flimsy “seed starting” trays you can buy, and easier to handle. I call this experiment a success.
Now if only the birds didn’t pick out half the seedlings their first day out in the garden. Sigh.