Just when you thought it was safe to think about stepping outside into the garden, after the longest, chilliest winter ever, the heavens open like never before. I've been meaning to get some seeds started for weeks now but even on a window sill, it still seems chilly.
I've seen pictures of a cute looking paper pot maker, for planting seeds. It's a basic idea, you recycle newspaper to make little pots for seedlings. It costs nothing and the "pots" can then be put straight into the ground or into a larger pot where they will break down. This cuts out possible damaging of delicate roots and you get a nice, fuzzy feeling inside knowing you made something out of nothing (I do anyway).
I don't posses one of these paper pot makers, but got so inspired by the idea that I wanted to wing it and make some anyway. How hard can it be? I got some newspaper, string and a small jar and began making the pots by wrapping a double layer around a jar, tying it and then sliding it off. Easy. I decided to stand them all up in a propagator tray anyway, so it seems a bit silly but these pots are better than the small plugs in the tray especially for plants that have longer roots like peas and broad beans.
All you do is then fill each one up with compost. I used a willing ten year old and a desert spoon for this. Then I made a little drill hole with a pencil and popped in the seeds. Its easy to get over enthusiastic when planting seeds, but less is usually more. It's easier to deal with seeds that don't germinate than to thin them out later.
I buy as many seeds as possible from Irish Seedsavers in Scariff, they are a charity organisation that specialise in the "conservation of Irish plant genetic resources including rare heritage seeds, grains, vegetables and fruit". In other words the seeds from Seedsavers will allow you to grow lesser known, heritage varieties, certified organic and disease free. I have a dwarf apple tree in a pot that I got from them two years ago in my yard and it bore tasty apples last year, of a variety cutely called Sheep Snout.
Back to the seeds, in these pots I planted Irish Green Peas, Aurora Tomatoes, Early Blood Turnip Beetroot and Painted Lady Runner Beans. When you put the seeds in, especially the ones for beans, be sure not to plant them on their sides as they will simply drown in water. Cover in the hole with some more compost.
If this all sounds too fiddly for you, then the cardboard insides of toilet rolls also make great pots. I've tried out some of these too, plus they can stand on their own. You can also use egg boxes or anything else that breaks down easily in soil. be sure to use a good, organic compost for your seeds so they get the best possible start. Water the plants but don't overdo it. If they go mouldy they are being overfed, so ease up. The soil shouldn't be dry nor too soggy either.
Always label your seeds. It's easy to think that you will remember what everything is but you probably won't. Use some cardboard or buy those little plastic ones from garden shops. It's also a good idea to keep a log book of what you planted, how many seeds of what and when, just to keep track of things and to help you learn for future planting. happy growing!
Irish Seed Savers Association is a registered charity, and a large environmental Non-Governmental Organisation in Ireland. We research, locate, preserve & use traditional varieties, cultivars of fruit, v