Sprouting Seeds in a Ziploc Bag and Other Gardening Hacks

Back in February, my husband and I went a little nuts, and proceeded to buy about thirty packets of seeds for our garden. We then bought three of those mini greenhouses that are nothing more than 72 peat moss pods that go into a plastic tray with a clear plastic top, the point of which is to give your seedlings a place to sprout. Water, seeds, place in a sunny area, and viola, two weeks later, plants are growing in your kitchen! Well, we decided to place these containers outside on warm sunny days. The lids don’t fit snugly onto them, so I used a bit of painter’s tape (because that’s all I had other than duck tape) to secure the lids against the winds of March. The tape however, was not enough to secure the lids against hungry birds. The robins, mocking birds, and house wrens that I normally love to see and hear in my yard became enemy number one after they pried open my greenhouses, and made a buffet out of my seed pods! Literally only three stalks of corn, of the dozens I had started, survived. I lost all my spinach, all my eggplants, and I’m pretty sure all my carrots and kale, but more on that in a later post. Since I had not started all our seeds, I began to wonder what would be a more secure, cheaper alternative to those flimsy pod trays. Then I dawned on me: “I have perfectly good compost in the back yard, and don’t we have some disused flower pots in the tool shed?” I opened up the tool shed, and after stumbling past the wheelbarrow, there was a pile of plastic flower boxes, the kind you affix to your window outside, and grow ivy and zinnias in, (or whatever it is you do with those things). I took them to the compost pile and scooped up several handfuls of compost, filling each one about 1/3 full. I then took them inside the kitchen, aka “the lab”, and began setting up my improvised mini greenhouses. I divided each container roughly into thirds, and simply sprinkled seeds into the compost, took a stick and lightly stirred them in, and then watered them, leaving the empty seed packet inside to mark what was to be growing in that section of the planter. “But how to keep the birds out?” I thought. “Saran Wrap,” I answered myself back. To secure the top of the container, I wrapped plastic cling wrap in three sections short ways across, and in one long piece from end to end, leaving enough excess to tuck under the planter, and then, just for good measure, I took a length of Saran Wrap and ran it under the lip of the container, effectively “tying” the “lid” shut. It looks a bit dodgy, but you can see the results in the pictures above. The other bright idea I had was to simplify this even further, and just scoop compost into a Ziploc back, add seeds, seal, shake, water, and set in the sun. That also turned out well, with one caveat; instead of shaking them, next time I will gently stir the seeds into the top most portion of the soil, so as to avoid plants sprouting on the bottom of the bag, only to suffocate, as was the case with much of the basil I started. Again, it looks silly, but it’s kept the birds out so far, and I will be transplanting the seedlings to the garden once the rain stops! Now obviously this has some less than Eco-friendly side effects, mostly in the form of generating plastic waste from the plastic cling film and the sandwich bags; but I will be reusing/recycling them, so as to mitigate the negative effects on the environment.

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