After spending a fortune last year on live plants, this year I figured I’d give it a try the old-fashioned way. I asked a gardener friend for a seed recommendation – seriously, do you have any idea how many companies are out there??? I gave up after about 20 minutes of looking, and just asked. She sent me over to Baker Creek, where all the seeds are heirloom and unmodified and everything else important. To be honest, I didn’t read about it too closely – the friend who sent me there is serious about avoiding anything GMO and supporting local, so I figured if it was good enough for her it was good enough for me. The bonus was that the seeds were super super cheap. And, since I only used a few in each packet, I should be set for the next few years.
When they arrived, the first thing I noticed was the beautiful art on the packaging. Isn’t it awesome?
Side note – I know this is probably a terrible photo by blogging standards. I mean….you can’t read my garden plan. There’s a random piece of Home Depot junk mail, some pens in shadow, half of a moose mug, and the bottom corner of Zoe’s DNA test report. (Wait, WHAT? Oh yeah. That’s coming.)
Pshhh. I actually really like the photo, so I chose not to crop any of that stuff out. It’s real life. I admire the bloggers who have tons of free counter or table space, natural lighting, and excellent prop placement. I’m not them. Never will be, so we have random crap in photos.
Back to the seeds.
Baker Creek sent me a bonus seed packet. It’s cabbage, and while I definitely appreciate the freebie, I won’t be planting it this year. Maybe next year. Or maybe in the fall, actually, because I think cabbage does well in cooler weather. We’ll see.
Last year, we went way overboard with the plants. We had so many different things….and we ended up letting half of it go to waste. So we scaled back this year. I ordered bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, paste tomatoes, and yellow cherry tomatoes.
By the way, friends…..you were supposed to tell me that was a bad idea. Do you remember last year when I was up to my ears in cherry tomatoes, you all agreed to keep me away from them?
It’s ok. I have a freezer now. I’m going to be roasting and freezing those suckers. But I’m rambling again. (And I just realized I haven’t introduced you to my freezer. How rude of me.)
I also bought a couple of herbs, though I scaled back a little on those too. Last year I didn’t realize that you’re actually supposed to cut herbs back so they keep producing. Whoops. Mine bolted, or flowered, and withered and died. Or so I thought. I looked in my planter the other day, and low and behold, mighty cilantro is back. And something else that might be parsley or basil or dill or oregano. I’m not sure, because I mixed up my markers when I planted them, and I obviously didn’t use them much last year.
This year I ordered cilantro, basil, and parsley, so if I ever figure out what’s growing in my planter, I may or may not need them.
I was a little afraid I’d waited too long – I ordered my seeds in February. They came, and then they sat on my kitchen table for a good month. I decided to direct sow the squash, zucchini, and cucumbers, since the package said I could. That meant starting the two peppers and two tomatoes. Easy enough, right?
I’d seen on Pinterest that someone started seeds in toilet paper rolls….which I happened to have a bunch of, thanks to some other never-attempted-Pinterest-project. So I grabbed them, and Jimmie helped me fold them into little planter pots. Stuffed them with dirt, dropped a seed in, and there you go.
I liked the idea of using toilet paper rolls for a couple reasons. Number one, I had them, and they were essentially free. I mean, yeah, I’d paid for the Charmin, but come on. And while I recycle now, I liked the idea of reusing something that would otherwise be trash. I also thought they’d be incredibly convenient. My thinking was (and still is, I guess) that when the time comes to put them into the ground, I’ll just plant the whole tube and hopefully it’ll decompose. Maybe. I should probably look that up.
I started double what I hoped to have in the garden. That gave me 18 total plants: 6 jalapenos, 6 bell peppers, 3 cherry tomatoes, and 3 paste tomatoes.
Lucy supervised the entire project, by the way, from the one shady spot in the entire yard.
I present to you….my first ever grown from seed real live plant.
It’s a tomato, and it’s doing just fine. Since I took this, 7 of his brothers and sisters have joined him, so I now have 8 baby plants. I’m clearly going to be up to my ears in cherry tomatoes again, because all 3 plants have sprouted. I’ve got at least one of each plant I started, so I’m considering that a job well done. The spout rate has been sporadic, but I’m not giving up on the rest of them yet. Jimmie keeps making fun of me because every day I’m intently peering into the tray, willing the little guys to live.
And one of the best parts? Since I already had the toilet paper rolls and some leftover dirt from last year’s garden, my grand garden total came to $26. And next year’s garden will be virtually free, unless I decide to grow something else.
If you want to make your own toilet paper planters, just grab some scissors and make four short cuts in the end of one. Then fold the edges in, sorta like you would if you were closing a cardboard box. It’ll take a little trial and error, and most of them won’t stand up until you put the dirt in. Also, when you’re watering them, I’ve found it works better to just do a little water every day. That keeps the dirt damp, but prevents your toilet paper roll from molding. It also helps to separate them – in my picture above they’re all snug together, but after about two weeks I realized they needed to breathe. And of course, they’re in front of my patio door where they’ll get plenty of sun. If I’m home I’ll stick them out on the porch for the day to get the full sun.
Now the trick will be transferring them into the ground without killing them.
Did you start a garden this year? Have you ever used toilet paper planters? If so, have I just doomed my plants?