Starting Seeds in Salad Containers

Over the years I have written about many ways to start seeds and they all have one thing in common, a simulated greenhouse.

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Now, every year I think I will have a real greenhouse.  Surely by the time I need to start seeds I will have one built or put together or otherwise exist, but then the same issue comes up every season (no funds), and so I am once again left with my own creativity.  This year I saved salad containers all year.  The kind with the lids.  You see, the key to seed starting is lots of sun and continuous moisture in a warm space.  It is so dry and cold here that I would be watering all the time and probably cause the seeds to mold.  No, I need a mother-nature-way of watering, softly and simply, with evaporation and condensation.

Many seeds should be direct planted.  Even though I added six weeks to my growing season by moving to Pueblo, I still need more time for peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant.  I found last year that when I direct planted them, they almost made it before frost.  This year I am holding back half of the seeds to direct plant and half I will transplant.  Transplanting is not always successful so we figure that one of the ways will succeed!  (And so goes the life of a farmer.)

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Fill your salad container 2/3 of the way full with organic, potting soil.  You want room for the plants to grow.  Water the soil so that it is evenly damp.  We don’t want any marshes settled at the bottom, but you might be surprised how much water the potting soil can hold.

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When it is evenly damp, sprinkle the seeds over the soil somewhat spread apart.  Barely sprinkle on more soil to cover and use a spray bottle of water to really dampen.  Until they are established, a water bottle prevents water pressure from dislodging the seed or drowning the poor fellas.

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Close lid tightly and mark with a sharpie.  Because you will forget the varietal and date you planted!  Just trust me on this.

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Let’s see, now to find a place with at least six hours of sun where the cats won’t step on or eat said seedlings.  (A more difficult dilemma than one might think.)  The guest room has a nice sunny spot on the bed from the south facing window a good part of the day and the door closes.

Now over the next week or two, keep an eye on your seeds.  There should be consistent “rainfall” in the box.  If it slows (every other day or so) spray thoroughly with water and reclose.  When plants are 1 inch tall, open the top and water as needed making sure not to let them dry out nor drown.  (You can still use the spray bottle.)  Once they get to be about two or three inches, transplant into another container separately.  (A blog post on that will be in a few weeks.)

I don’t know about you but I am darn near stir crazy not being able to be outside doing something.  At least starting seeds makes me feel like spring has begun.

Freezing Produce (it’s not too late to preserve!)

 

IMG_2344Lest one would think that our homesteading duties are through until spring, I must correct.  Now granted, if I had had the prolific garden I thought I would have had I would have long before now canned a year’s worth of peppers, but as life would have it, I did not.  And down to the last two jars is no laughing matter.  So when my dear friend, Lisa, handed over boxes of produce that Whole Foods did not deem sellable (Gee, they look like they’ll cook up just fine to me!), I practically ran from her kitchen laughing maniacally all the way to mine.  Homesteading personalities can be a bit peculiar and they do tend to show themselves in times of seeming triumph.  A box of peppers and mushroom and other goodies awaited the knife.

Save for the balmy outdoor temperature of precisely zero, my kitchen looked like summer.  Homesteaders must be thrifty.  It is the only way.  And if one should find items on sale that look great still, do grab them.

I chose to freeze these beauties.  Cut in half then finish pulling apart.  Remove the seed ball, seeds, pith, et cetera and chop into fine chunks.  When your hand gets tired and you find yourself rather bored just cut them in half, seed them and throw them in freezer bags.  Now, I have always taught you to freeze them on cookie sheets first, always.  They come apart easily and cleanly.  But should you find yourself with a  very small, very full freezer then just bag two chopped peppers in each sandwich bag and pile the halves into a gallon bag.  You will have to pry them apart but then they are quite easy to cut up frozen with kitchen shears.  Do what you can, you may have a ton of mushrooms to do next!

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A full freezer equals a happy new year.  I wish you all that and much, much more.