7 Ways to Starting Your Garden

Start seeding and get your garden looking great using these cheap, do-it-yourself solutions to starting your summer garden.

Use Potatoes as Transporters

If you need to take cuttings to another town, use a potato as a carrier. Slice a large potato in half crosswise, poke three 1-inch deep holes in each cut side with a chopstick or pencil, and insert the cuttings, which will stay moist for 3-4 hours.

Create a Rolling Seed Flat

Turn a child’s wagon into a seed flat on wheels. Poke holes in the wagon bottom with a screw-hole punch and hammer, then fill the wagon with peat pots or expandable peat pellets, labelling them as you go.

Prep with Willow Tea

Soaking six or eight willow twigs in water gives you a solution of indolebutyric acid (IBA), a natural plant-rooting hormone. Start by snipping the twigs from a willow (any species will do), then split them with a few hammer blows. Cut the twigs into 3-inch pieces and steep them in a pail filled with 4-5 inches of water for 24 hours. Use the tea either to water just-planted cuttings or as an overnight soaker for cuttings.

Root Rose Cuttings Under Glass

An easy way to root a cutting from your favorite rosebush is to snip off a 4-6-inch piece of stem and plant it in good soil, whether in the garden or a pot. Then cover it with a large fruit jar to create a mini-greenhouse.

Re-use a Dry-Cleaning Bag as a Humidifier

To provide the humidity needed to root a flat of cuttings, lay a dry cleaning bag over the cuttings, making sure it doesn’t touch the plants. (Ice cream sticks or pencils can serve as “tent poles.”) Clip the bag to the rim of the flat with clothespins or small metal clamps.

Try Paper Cup Seed Starters

Small paper drinking cups – the kind dispensed at water coolers – make excellent seed starters. They’re the right size, you can easily poke a drainage hole in the bottom, and they’re easily cut apart when it comes time to plant your seedlings. Note that we specify paper cups: Plastic-foam cups might sit in your local landfill until your great-great-grandchildren have come and gone.

Make Easy-Free Plant Markers

To label your seeds flat by flat so you won’t risk confusing, say, your Better Boy tomatoes with your Early Girls, turn empty yogurt cups, bleach jugs, or other white plastic containers into plant markers. Cut strips from the plastic, trim the ends to a point, and use an indelible felt-tip marker to write the plant name (variety included) on each. Stick the strips into the flats as soon as you plant seeds so you’ll know which plant is which from the start.

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