“Who loves the garden loves the greenhouse too.” – William Cowper
When I started gardening I planted trays and trays of seeds. I must have planted over 300 seeds in 72 cell seed trays. That was a horrible idea. If I had not lost most of them to a wind storm I have no idea what I would have done with all those plants. I still did end up with a food jungle, but I had learned my lesson.
This year I found these 12 cell trays with a drip tray and dome on Amazon. They were perfect for what I needed to plant. This allowed me to plant four varieties of three seeds in one tray. I had already decided I was only going to plant one of each variety so this was exactly what I needed. When you direct sow you are told to plant two seeds in each hole to ensure everything grows. You are also told if both of the seeds grow to cut the smaller one and throw it away. This is called “thinning”. I don’t know about you, but I could never do it. I know they were only plants but I could not ever bring myself to throw away any plant. My theory was if it grew, I was planting it. I know it might sound crazy but I gave every seedling a chance.
Below you will see the 12 cell trays. Please note the labels. Label everything. When you repot seedlings to the next pot, label all the pots. Last year I labelled only the first pot in the row. Then I would move the pot out of the row and have no idea what it was. Label everything. Below you see popsicle sticks, plant labels, and post it flags. They all work as labels. Label, label, label.
The other thing you will notice is my seedlings are sitting in a plastic tote. Let me explain why. Last year I rushed out and purchased four tier greenhouses. They were on sale at Menards and I just thought this would solve all my issues. When you plant seedlings in the house you have to harden them off outside. “Hardening Off” is exposing the seedlings to the sun for a few hours a day. You can’t take seedlings from inside the house directly outside in the sun. They will burn and die and all your work will be for nothing. The greenhouse was where I hardened off these plants. Well not one, not two, but three wind storms knocked my greenhouse over. One wind storm threw my seedlings across my stone banister. What didn’t flip across the banister laid in a pile on my patio. I wanted to cry. All my hard work had laid in a pile on the ground.
This year I was not about to live through that again. I discovered instead of $30 greenhouses I could use $5 plastic totes. The key is you must use plastic totes with clear lids. This allows sun to come in on all sides. I chose these with handles which made it easy to carry my plants in and out of the house. I hardened off the plants using these totes and also used these when the temps dropped to the mid thirties. YOU MUST take the lids off when the temperature begins to rise. If you keep the lid on you basically turn the plastic tote into an oven. This is the only thing you have to watch when using the plastic tote method.
This was probably the most genius hack of the year. All of my plants not only survived but thrived. In most cases all three seedlings survived and I still ended up with too many plants. I still can’t throw them away so I’ve offered them to friends and family. Any extras that remain I plan to set in front of my house with a sign that says “Free To A Good Garden”. A lot of my neighbors garden so I’m hoping they can find a use for the veggies. If they don’t find good homes, you guessed it. My garden will be a little larger this year.
I hope this hack helps you. I also hope the label hack helps. I’m not a gardening pro but I am a much better gardener than I was a year ago. My goal is to get everyone growing their own food and sharing. I’ve never tasted any veggie better than one I’ve grown myself. The season is still early so Let’s Start Gardening.