Seedlings are sprouting!

March 15th, 2008  |  Published in DIY Food Projects, Fantastic Fruits, Farming, Gardening, & Food Preservation, Most Popular  |  10 Comments

Suyo Long Cucumber seedlings

Suyo Long Cucumbers : a slender asian variety

Tigger Melon seedlings

Tigger Melons : 1 pound fruits with stunning red and yellow stripes

Pantano Romanesco seedling

Pantano Romanesco Tomatoes : medium sized red with hints of purple

Seedlings on the windowsill

Seedlings on the windowsill. (5 tomatoes: Purple Russian, Dr. Wychee’s Yellow, Pantano Romanesco, Riesentraube, Fuzzy Yellow; 2 cucumbers: Mexican Sour Gherkin, Suyo Long; purple tomatillos, 2 hot peppers: Roberto’s Cuban Seasoning, Ancho Grande; 2 melons: Kiwano ‘Jelly’ Melon, Tigger Melon)

After being delayed multiple weeks by ice storms, the seeds for my summer garden finally arrived! I had been waiting with baited breath, and got to planting within a day of receiving the package. All of the seeds are heirloom varieties from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, a rockabilly farm in rural Missouri. I totally dig it.

When planning my garden, I decided to go with some more ‘exotic’ varieties of my favorite vegetables and fruits and continue to purchase my staples at the Farmer’s Market. This means I’m planting five types of tomatoes (of varying sizes and colors — purple, red, yellow, cherry, medium, and large), purple tomatillos (harder to find and more $$$ than typical green), two types of cucumbers (one, Mexican Sour Gherkin, is the size of a kumquat; the other, Suyo Long, is a long, thin asian variety), two types of spicy peppers, and two types of melon (Tigger — fruits grow to about 1 pound and have beautiful red and yellow stripes, and Kiwano aka ‘African Horned Cucumber‘ aka ‘Jelly Melon‘ which has yellow spikes on the outside but is neon green and gelatinous on the inside; it tastes like a cross between banana and cucumber– should be interesting)

As you can see, I’ve improvised my seedling containers — the two melons are in proper containers, but for the rest I raided the recycling pile and came up with 2 egg cartons, a long thin rectangular pie-crust box, and a small Airborne box. The egg cartons I was able to use as-is; the boxes I cut into roughly 2.5 inch rectangles using a serrated knife. Most of these have no bottom (think toilet paper roll), so I placed them on a cardboard shoe box top so they wouldn’t leak everywhere, and also to make moving all 7…8…9 containers easy. I used a permanent marker to write the variety of each seed on the side of the container to keep everything straight. I learned my lesson about this last time I planted seeds when I had kale, collards, and broccoli with nearly identical seedlings.

Some make-shift seedling container ideas are:

  • - egg cartons
  • - bottom or sections of 1/2 gallon milk jug
  • - small cardboard boxes/packaging
  • - toilet paper roll sections
  • - paper towel roll sections
  • - yogurt or cottage cheese containers (poke holes in the bottom of these)

Just make sure that whatever you use, that water will be able to drain from the bottom (either through holes or by seeping through the packaging (i.e. egg cartons)).

The seedlings will probably be ready to transplant to the garden in 3-4 weeks, or after their first ‘true’ leaves have sprouted. When that time comes I’ll post my soil recipe (something like 10 parts compost, one part kelp, one part ground oyster shells, etc. etc). Stay tuned!

And as a side note, if you were thinking about starting a garden from seed and you think it’s too late now — IT’S NOT TOO LATE AT ALL! Now is a great time to start tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, onions, squash, lettuce, and a whole lot more. You might even want to wait a couple of weeks to start hot peppers (they need warmer weather).

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  1. White On Rice Couple says:

    March 16th, 2008at 1:38 pm(#)

    Yeah for all those seedlings! These look fantastic and thanks for all the great info on seeding ideas.
    All of the seeds that fall from our last years herbs and plants are coming up on us already. We really wish we had more plot space to grow a plethora of veggies. Those long cucumbers sound interesting!

  2. katy says:

    March 17th, 2008at 10:24 am(#)

    so exciting! i’ve actually planted some tomato seeds in a pot on my windowsill, hoping that they’ll grow outside on my roofdeck when things get a little warmer! i don’t have the greenest thumb, but tomato plants seem pretty hearty — wish me luck!

  3. Jen says:

    March 17th, 2008at 10:41 am(#)

    White on Rice Couple – I think every gardener wishes she/he had more space! I have one plot that is about 4×8 ft, another that is 4×4, and I still spill over into 5 gallon buckets in order to plant everything I want… I’m thinking about building a ‘salad table’ – a fairly large shallow box at waist level filled with a soil-less potting mix for growing herbs or salad greens. I’ll post about the project if I end up doing it

    Katy – good luck with your tomatoes! what type are you growing? as you can probably tell (since I’m planting five types), I love tomatoes… also, I truly believe that ‘green thumb’ is a state of mind :)

  4. Richard Farrar says:

    March 19th, 2008at 9:43 am(#)

    I really like your use of old egg boxes as seed trays, an excellent idea, yet so simple.

  5. Jen says:

    March 19th, 2008at 9:56 am(#)

    Richard – so far, the egg cartons are working great! Btw, I’ll definitely be visiting your site as my garden gets into full swing — I’m growing lots of things I’ve never grown before this year.

  6. Potato Gratin with Caramelized Fennel and Leek | Modern Beet says:

    March 27th, 2008at 8:54 pm(#)

    [...] Seedlings are sprouting! [...]

  7. Tired Garden says:

    May 4th, 2008at 8:18 am(#)

    Dirty Fingers – Issue 3

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  8. Jason says:

    May 10th, 2008at 8:21 pm(#)

    I love that you are planting seeds that are harder to get in the store. That is one of my favorite things about gardening, enhancing not just the flavor, but the variety of food. I can go to the supermarket and get watermelon for cheap, but will they have tiger melon? I can get big boy tomatoes easily enough, but how many people have actually heard of Purple Russian Tomatoes?

    In the April Issue of my newsletter, I spoke about my feelings on different seed starting containers. If you are interested, visit it here:

  9. Peerless boilers. says:

    February 3rd, 2010at 3:18 am(#)

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  10. bordsspel says:

    April 18th, 2012at 1:27 am(#)

    Pretty neat post. Brilliant.

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