We are trying a new method for sprouting seeds this year! Our garden is tiny (though we’re hoping to partner with a local farm to grow more herbs—more details on that to come!!!) but we get an amazing amount of herbal healing out of it.
Last year, we started seeds in my daughter’s window in early March, which we then planted out in May. But last May was COLD, and some of them didn’t make the transition well. This year, I read several places about the value for young plants in getting used to the cold as they grow. But honestly, as a mom of two children under 5, I can’t spend my life carrying seedlings in and out of the house for months.
This year, we heard of a method of making tiny greenhouses out of plastic milk jugs. This seemed worth a shot, so we took it. We will probably also start some seeds in the window next month, but at least we’ll have these already going!
First, we had to gather milk jugs. We usually get our milk straight from the farm in glass jugs, but a query to family and neighbors quickly yielded a good number to start with.
Next, we cut them on 3 sides so they hinge open on the handle side, and poked 4-5 holes in the bottom of each one. This should be done CAREFULLY by an ADULT in possession of a FIRST AID KIT. I cut my finger on the 3rd one. Fortunately, I had the Clean Cut spray and Liquid Stitches from my Herbal First Aid Kit, so it healed quickly and well.
The next step was adding the soil. A blog I consulted suggested putting the soil in a wheelbarrow and wetting it all. But my whole gardening area is 15’ x 20’, so a wheelbarrow would really not be a practical investment. So I filled the jugs, put them in the tub and turned on the shower.
Finally it was time to plant! I selected seeds from my collection that would do well with the cold. I went with St. Joan’s Wort and Skullcap, whose seeds I got from Lovelight Herb Farm, Chamomile from Southern Exposure, Calendula saved from last year and Lettuce from Renee’s Garden and Kale from Botanical Interest, all organic.
I have a lot of seeds I saved from last year or got from friends, but most of them I’ll start indoors. My children helped place the seeds right on top of the damp soil, then I sprinkled just a little more soil on top. Read the packets! Many of these seeds need light to germinate.
Lastly, I wrote the names and dates in oil-based paint pen so they won’t run off, and taped the jugs back up. You want to leave the top hole open for temperature and moisture regulation, but seal up every other possible crack.
They’re sitting happily in the sun now, soaking up the elements in their capsules, taking their time acclimating to the environment. It’s exciting to feel like we’re welcoming the Spring without having to worry about regular watering yet. Caring for growing plants is a wonderful way to find wholeness in your life. It gets you outside, out of your head, caring for another, but the other is so quiet and still that they don’t keep you from your own needs and desires. Plus, gardening is great exercise! Even if you only make one little greenhouse, I recommend it as a fun, simple way to get into the swing of the growing season!