Start seeding and get your garden looking great using these cheap, do-it-yourself solutions to starting your summer garden.
1. Make Seed Holes with Chopsticks
Instead of buying a dibbler – the wooden garden tool used to poke seed holes in the soil – why not use a chopstick or pencil? Same holes, no cash outlay. A third choice: A full-size folding nail clipper, the blunt arm of which you can poke into the soil and twist. Later, when it comes time to transplant seedlings, use the same arm of the file to work a seedling and its root ball from the seed flat.
2. Skip the Dibbling (and Watering)
An alternative to dibbling holes into the soil of a seed flat is to wet the soil, lay the seeds on the surface, and then cover the seeds with another thin layer of soil. Shrink-wrap the flat with plastic wrap, and your job is done. Condensation on the wrap will drip down to keep the seeds moist until germination.
3. Try Spice Jars as Seed Sowers
When sowing seeds directly into a garden plot, put them in an empty dried herb or spice jar – the kind with a perforated plastic top. Then shake them over the bed or along a row. This improvised sower works best for medium-sized seeds.
4. Sow Some Tiny Seeds
Seeds of impatiens, lobelia, carrots, lettuce, and a few other flowers and vegetables are so miniscule that they’re difficult to sow evenly. To remedy the problem and make seedlings easier to thin out once they sprout, combine the seeds with grainy foodstuffs like semolina, couscous, grits, or dried herbs, all of which will put some space between diminutive seeds.
5. Make Easy-Free Plant Markers
To label your seeds flat by flat so you won’t risk confusing, say, your Better Boy tomatoes with your Early Girls, turn empty yogurt cups, bleach jugs, or other white plastic containers into plant markers. Cut strips from the plastic, trim the ends to a point, and use an indelible felt-tip marker to write the plant name (variety included) on each. Stick the strips into the flats as soon as you plant seeds so you’ll know which plant is which from the start.
6. Try Paper Cup Seed Starters
Small paper drinking cups – the kind dispensed at water coolers – make excellent seed starters. They’re the right size, you can easily poke a drainage hole in the bottom, and they’re easily cut apart when it comes time to plant your seedlings. Note that we specify paper cups: Plastic-foam cups might sit in your local landfill until your great-great-grandchildren have come and gone.