crows woods gardeners

Haddonfield Community Gardens

Growing Seedlings at Home, 2009 A Dilemma

I’ve been starting my seedlings in house for about eight years. It's a lot of work, but it's a good way to find out what will grow and produce well in the Crows Woods environment.

I usually purchase a seed starting kit at one of the local chains. The kits have generally consisted of a plastic tray with 72 plastic cells that measure 1.5 x 1.5 inches and contain seed starting mix. Last year, Wal-Mart had good ones so I went back. However, all they were offering were "environmentally friendly" kits. The cells were small -- about 1 inch square, and were made from recycled paper, and there was only a small amount of growing material in each cell. Their claim was that once the seedling was established you could just tear off the cell and plant the whole thing in the garden. I did buy one of these kits and found that tearing off one cell was not possible.

So off I went to Home Depot. One kit seemed to have some possibilities, but it was wrapped in such a way that I couldn't tell what the growing system entailed.

Unfortunately, it was peat pellets. I would not recommend this method! I took six of them and added warm water. They expanded in height to about 1.75 inches. But they have a thin plastic membrane at the top which needs to be removed to put the seeds in the small opening at the top. I put one of my Brandywine seeds in each pellet, and in seven days the seeds germinated. They grew to be about two inches tall in seven days but were very thin and after another week had never put out any secondary leaves so I tossed them. I'm no expert, but the pear pellets seem to lack nutrients.

My Do-It-Yourself Kits

Since I had spent enough of my money on kits, I decided to try my own method. I bought a bag of Miracle Gro potting mix and 50 5 oz. plastic drinking cups from the Dollar Store. I punch small holes in the bottom of the cups to allow for bottom watering and fill the cups about 3/4 full of the potting mix, plant the seeds, and it works for me!

PS: If you know of anyone that would like to try the peat pellets, I have lots of them and they are free!

Don Neely, Plot # 32