Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Milk Jug Greenhouse

Want home grown salad in winter? Live where your garden is under four feet of snow until April? Have a child obsessed with starting seeds? Yes, yes and yes! So we started milk-jug salad greenhouses!

My little girl demands to plant seeds everyday and I'm running out of flat surfaces on which to start them. Luckily, last week I heard about milk jug greenhouses!

Of course you don't have to be a kid to make these. It's a great way to start cold hardy plants if you have a sunny glassed-in porch, as I do, that still drops below freezing at night but can hit up to 90 degrees during the day. You could also keep these indoors if, unlike me, you have sunny surfaces not already taken over by flats of non cold-hardy seeds.

It's easy:
-take an empty gallon milk jug.
-poke a few holes in the bottom.
-cut almost all the way around it about three inches from the bottom (see photo above). Leave a few inches still attached so it stays together but so you can open it up to get the plants out later.
-add a few inches of dirt and your seeds.
-tape it back up.
-you can also cut the very top off (as I have in this example above) so it's easier for a little face to peer inside every half hour to see if the seeds have sprouted. If you do this put some clear tape or plastic wrap over it to keep the heat in.

Had I stumbled upon this idea in the late fall we'd be eating milk-jug salad by now. But, sadly, I just planted our first one on March 15th. So far we only have these little black-seeded Stimpson sprouts to the right but they came up in four days even with the porch getting down to 20 degrees at night.

Hopefully we'll be able to eat our greenhouse greens long before I'm able to plant seeds right in Lizzie's Organic Garden. It's just emerged from the glacier that was my backyard so it will be some time before she can demand seed planting out there. I already have plans to build another raised veggie bed before she stomps her little feet when I tell her we've run out of room and can't plant anymore. Luckily for me she likes to weed!