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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Easy Seeding at Home With Limited Materials

Start seeds with a clamshell of soil and a spraybottle.

Starting seed at home is easy, even with limited materials.


Some of you may have already gotten your seed order for the spring, but the procrastinating gardener that I am will force me to explore last year’s seeds stash.

Horticulturists typically keep their seed stash in a refrigerator to ensure viability. We have a refrigerator at the office to keep our seed for our various projects, like the Unity Community Center garden.

Many of us also have an unrefrigerated stash in a drawer somewhere. I know I have alyssum, coneflowers, bachelor’s button, tomatoes, peppers and cosmos. With a little warmth and a drink of water, these seeds may sprout and be ready for the May garden.

If you are lucky enough to have an extra bag of soil in the garage, the task will be easy.  I am going to reuse some of the soil from last year’s pots. Normally, I would discourage reusing soil because of the potential transfer of plant diseases. This year, I am taking the risk so that I may garden. I will toss out anything that looks suspect.

Are you lucky enough to have some extra plastic inserts or peat pots in your garage? I plan on using egg cartons, newspapers, and paper towels in fruit clam shells. The pots need to be small, and I will need trays or plates to manage them. I will also use plastic (a re-used bread bag) to keep the seed moist, and newspaper to keep the seeds warm.

Before planting, thoroughly wet the soil. Saturate it, but not to the point of dripping or turning to mud. If you get your soil from outside, there may already be enough moisture. After planting seed, cover with plastic and paper and place in sunny window (added heat and light for your seedlings).

Inspect your seeds every day, and use a spray bottle to wet just the top of the soil of the pots that seem dry. Skip the pots that still look wet. Continue inspecting and spraying every day until you see a sprout. Remove any paper or plastic covering and remember that as they grow, they will need more water.

Kids in the Garden

Let kids explore the variety of seeds you are planting. Have them sort extra seeds by shape, size, or color. Listen to a read aloud version online of Oh Say You Can Seed by Bonnie Worth to learn all about seeds. Next time at the grocery store, grab a bag of dried lima beans for the kids to dissect and investigate the parts of a seed. Soak the seeds for 6-12 hours to soften the seed coat. Find the seed coat (protects the seed), cotyledon (provides food), and embryo (baby plant). Encourage kids to draw their own seed and label the parts.