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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Trashy Terrariums

it's time to start planting and to that end, i've been saving some trash and recycleables.
might as well start with reuse and move into recycle later

first, i saved a couple of cardboard trays from soda cans. it's a good place to start seedlings - easy to move, no mess on the counter, and sturdy enough to hold several pots or terrariums

and here you see the bottom of a gingerale bottle. clear bottles might work better, but this is what was available.

i cut the bottles in half, then on the bottom half i made 4 or 5 slits about an inch long down from the cut edge, evenly spaced

lettuce seeds from the asian market. no idea what kind they are. the only instruction in english is to soak the seeds in water in the fridge for 2 days. it's 62 degrees F in my house so i felt ok to skip this step. the terrarium doesn't have drain holes so the dirt will stay as moist as i tell it to while the seeds germinate

 when it's time to put the top on, just push the cut edges of the slits to overlap each other, reducing the circumference of the bottom half just a bit

push the top half of the bottle down over it as far as it will go

the overlapping edges don't matter a bit to the inner workings of the terrarium as the top should slide down well past them and you shouldn't have to cut as far down as where the soil and water come to

for the time being, i haven't put the bottle cap on, but make sure you save the cap as that is your humidity control

these fancy little containers are single serve pretzel & sabra hummus snack tubs. hat tip to my friend jon for this one - last year so many of his tomato seedlings succeeded in these that he had extra plants to give me. i've been saving the containers ever since
i'm experimenting with the seeds for the san marzanos. almost none of the tomatoes survived, between a late bloom, deer eating them, and an early freeze. i got one plant indoors while the tomatoes were green and most of the green ones went to my sister when the plant died. i found a few small tomatoes that ripened anyway, so i set them aside to dry. they may not be mature enough seeds, they may not make it for whatever reason. but i put one small tomato each in two hummus tubs with LOTS of water to soak and rehydrate. in the past i've gotten the best plants from putting whole, overripe tomatoes into dirt so i am guessing they might do better if they have the fruit to feed on as it rots into the soil.

make sure to write your variety on the top with a sharpie.
the cherokee purple seeds are a pinch of seeds leftover from a trip to monticello last year. i put half a dozen in each of 2 tubs and i figure if i get 3 seedlings out of the old seeds i'll be doing ok.

for the time being the seedling tray (cardboard box) is parked under my skylight. there's not a lot of sun this time of year but it's 35F outside tonight so i can't start seeds indoors.

update - the lettuce didn't grow. the tomatoes grew quite well, although most of the sprouts succumbed to a late and unexpected freeze. i recently found some sprouts that i didn't think would grow in one of the hummus containers in my carport, 3 months after i put a not quite ripe dehydrated tomato from last fall's frozen san marzano plant in there. fingers crossed!

first crop, these got frozen after i had transplanted and set them outside

freezer bag portion control

hat-tip to Lunchinabox.net - that blog appears to be fading away and may not be around to link to later, so here's my lazier version of her nifty trick

if you don't already know this one, here's the way i learned to freeze ground beef (sausage, any ground pork/chicken/turkey etc) in portions while only using one large plastic bag. never deal with trying to thaw and use several pounds of ground meat again.

1. place meat in bag. if you intend to season it, this is a great time to add the seasoning and squish it all around without getting your hands or a bowl dirty