Seed starters from the store can be expensive and too big for a small apartment. Sometimes those kits don‘t fit my needs. My absolute favorite methods for starting any seeds, roots, or cuttings start with these containers I bought at Walmart. I got 15 of them for $2.50. Now, you can use any plastic or glass container (even sandwich baggies, but they get gross over time and aren‘t nearly as reusable) just as long as the container can seal. Other useful things to combine with this are: small gravel or rounded glass (stuff like aquarium gravel), potting soil or soil from compost, paper towels, and water that isn‘t chlorinated. I suggest used fish water or a watered down worm tea. If you don’t have either of those, that’s okay. I prefer these water sources for the rich nutrients that helps to give sprouts a little extra energy. If you would like to learn how to make what I call fertilizer farms, I’ll be posting a tutorial on that later this week.
Now this tutorial is just a quick overview for most plants and seeds. I will be posting tutorials for specific plants later on.
For most seeds, simply putting them in a damp paper towel (try get them in a nice, organized rows if you can) in a sealed container is enough. You can place gravel or small rocks beneath the towel for roots to grow straighter. For best results, place the container in a warm place. I usually put mine on our internet router. For straight seedlings, make sure to block out as much light as possible until they have some sort of root going down. Each seedling is ready for planting when they have at least one leaf.
Simply cut the paper towel as close as you can to the roots without cutting the roots. Don’t worry if you have to leave big chunks of paper towel on the roots! Paper towels make for decent compost. That means any scraps you have left can be thrown into a compost bin. Just make sure through this process that you open the container every few days.
For certain roots and cuttings, put gravel in the bottom of the container, fill it with water until it reaches any eyes or decently high enough for specific cuttings. Simply place the open container in a warm and partially sunny window. Make sure to check the water and empty and replace it. The root or cutting is ready to be planted when they have a decent root system started.
For plants that need soil to start, put a thin layer of gravel in the bottom of the container. Cover the gravel in a layer of soil and place the seeds or root on top. Cover with another layer of soil and water a liberal amount. Now here’s the trick: place the lid on the container but do not seal it. This allows a bit of air flow.
Don’t be scared to play around with these ideas! One thing you will learn is the more you overthink it, the more likely something will go wrong. Seeds, roots, and cuttings are tenacious (for the most part). If you don‘t do something perfectly, that’s okay. The seedlings and the like usually figure themselves out.
For more specific instructions on handling young plants and unique needs of starting specific plants, stay tuned!