Cost-saving gardening shortcuts
Inexpensive, easy and a perfect choice for making self-watering small pots for seedlings.
You will need 2 packages of plastic drink glasses. I used 9 oz with a narrow base and 9 oz with a broad base. Each self watering seedling pot will consist of 3 plastic glasses --2 wide base glasses and one narrow base glass.
You will need a 4" piece of yarn or common garden string - I used yarn.
You will need potting soil appropriate for the plant you are working with. I used seed starting mix for these baby transplants.
You will need a bit of vermiculite to add to the potting mix. If you don't have it on hand, buy a small bag at the greenhouse or hardware store.
To begin...You will need to make a hole in the plastic glass that will hold the plant. (I used a wide base glass to hold the plant.) I hold a large nail with pliars over a flame and make the hole with the heated nail.
Insert the string so that at least 2" of it are in the bottom of the pot. Add soil and plant the cutting.
Put that glass into the narrow based glass which will hold the water.
Fill the outer glass (narrow base) with water, make sure the wick can get all that water.
Put the wide base glass with the plant and the narrow base glass with the water into a wide base glass to provide stability. Keep the water container filled with water.
You are done. Cheap. Workable. Bingo!
DROUGHT, DROUGHT, DROUGHT....We know the word and as we look out across fields and gardens we know the reality of a lack of water. The situation is grim and getting grimmer. Unfortunately water is a finite resource. That means we have a fixed, limited amount of water on our planet and we must use and reuse it carefully. At the risk of repeating what some may know, here are some simple things to do.
1.Make and use a rain barrel. You will be amazed at how much water can be collected from a structure roof. Check 'Catching the Rain" under this Save $$ tab.
2. If you have a small garden area with specific plants that need regular water, consider buying a large plastic garbage can (on sale) and putting it near the garden. Fill it with water, keep the lid on tight and dip water from it as needed for a 'quick drink'for the plants.
3. In the kitchen, save the water used for boiling eggs, potatoes, corn or other foods. When it cools, use it to water house plants or patio plants.
4. If you have a fish aquarium, save the water when you change or add water and pour that on your houseplants or patio plants.
5. To manage the water for potted plants most efficiently, water from the bottom up - investigate making simple, inexpensive self-watering pots from 5 gallon buckets.
6. Mulch the gardens well - old hay provides the best water holding mat - and let the water run on the mulch. That will keep the water in the soil, where it needs to be for the roots.
With the price of gasoline going higher than healthy bloodpressure, everyone is looking for ways to save money or reduce costs. And that absolutely is the case for gardeners. As is always the case, 'saving' money means making wise decisions about purchasing essential items , compromising on others and doing without still others.
Here are some suggestions that might be helpful:
For persons who plan to start seeds indoors, an essential item is a seed starting heat mat. They are available at locally owned greenhouses and several of the hardware stores. Seed mats come to fit one flat (roughly 11 x 17 inches) or two flats. The prices range from roughly $25 to $45.
Containers for starting seeds can be repurposed from a multitude of plastic containers. See milk jug gardening for suggestions on using the bottom 3-4 inches of a gallon milk jug for a seed starting container. Styrofoam containers that fresh mushrooms come in are also good. Remember to make drainage holes. Also very workable for seed starting are the plastic clam shell containers that berries and some greens come in.
Other essentials for seed planting are a good quality seed starting mix and a package of vermiculite or fine ground chicken grit.
When it comes time to tranplant the seedlings into slightly larger pots, two choices of biodegradable materials present themselves. Commercial peat pots have been available for several years. They are moderately priced, work well and will biodegrade - but not so quickly as advertised.
Another option, gaining in popularity because it costs nothing and works very well is the home made seedling pots from newspapers. We offer instructions for making two kinds: a square 3" open top box and a 3" round pot.
Master Gardener Mary Rost provided instructions for making a paper pot for starting seedlings: "Cut four thicknesses of black and white newspaper into a 7 inch square , fold into thirds, then turn and fold again to make a 9 square fold. Angle-fold each corner on one side and staple. Repeat on the opposite side." (Fear not, the staples will bio-degrade in the soil quickly.)
When the seedlings are ready to transplant, open the bottom of the container with your fingers or a sharp knife and cut from the bottom up almost to the top on several sides so the roots will have plenty of room. Be certain to plant the pot deeply enough so that its rim is below the level of the soil.
Here are the directions for the round pot. Take a 2 page section of the newspaper and fold it in half, lengthwise. Fold it in half lengthwise again. Lay a soup can or soda pop can, or small peanut butter jar (or anything similar as in the wine bottle in the illustration) on the folded paper so that approximately 1 1/2 inches of paper extends beyond the container (this will be the bottom of the seed pot. See second illustration, above). Roll it tightly and secure with a small piece of Scotch tape. Fold the bottom in small amounts to make a secure, full base for the pot. (See third illustration.) Secure that with a small piece of tape and give it several good hard whacks on the table or bench to "set" the folded paper. Remove the pot from the can or bottle and it is ready to plant. Follow the directions in green (above) when you are ready to plant.
You will need watering trays for both the seedlings and transplants. (See the seed tray in the watering tray at left.) Seed trays, with drainage holes, are crucial and are available at all the greenhouses very reasonably. If you plan on continuing to start seeds, this is a reasonable purchase.
These flats (seed trays) for potted seedlings will fit in the watering trays (see photo at left) which are also available and inexpensive. Surely you can improvise all of this, but if seed starting is an essential part of your pre-Spring routine, then these purchases make sense.
There is more to seed starting to be sure, but these are some ways to shave the expenses..............