Step 1: Drink the wine and then fill the bottle with pea gravel
Step 2: Stick the bottle in a container full of sand
Step 3: Add a clamp light and a grow bulb.
Step 4: Encase the entire thing in foil.
Step 5: Drink a bit more wine and feel smuggly satisfied.
I bought this wine because the label featured a toad wearing a vest. It seemed logical to me.
Insert bottle into a container full of sand and step back to admire how high class you are.
Last year I helped the bottle stay upright by using a clean paint stirrer and plastic bags. This year I upgraded to a can of leftover pumpkin.
By encasing the entire "greenhouse" in foil, I prevent the light from diffusing into the kitchen and am able to keep the seed trays warm without needing to buy a heat mat. I turn the lights on every morning as I stumble about making breakfast and then turn them off about 12 hours later. This is set up next to my coffee pot to guarantee I'll remember to turn the lights on.
The little greenhouse trays are balanced on two huge cutting boards that have been wrapped in old towels. Magazines and newspapers keep the plants close to the grow bulbs in the clamp lights.
'Sweet Chocolate' pepper seeds from Baker Seeds germinated in about 10 days. I use little coir pots that came with my Burpee seed trays.
'Yellow Brandywine' tomatoes from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
I picked these seeds up at a seed swap in early February. I didn't think the seeds would sprout so quickly and had little seedlings before I remembered to prop up the seed trays with old newspapers and magazines. Oops! The seeds germinated in a week. Ultimately, it doesn't matter that the seedlings are a bit taller than I wanted since tomatoes grow best when the main stem is buried several inches into the soil, anyway.
As much as I love my Rube Goldberg Greenhouse, I'm limited to only growing a few types of seeds. While I should be satisfied, I'm not. I've also started something called winter sowing, which is allowing me to grow more plants than I have room for. Most excellent!
Here's what you do:
Step 1: Get an old plastic container and poke some holes in the top and bottom.
Step 2: Fill it half way with seed starting mix and then water it thoroughly.
Step 3: Sow your seeds and put the lid on, unless it's a plastic milk jug.
Step 4: Stick it outside in a spot that receives morning sun and afternoon shade.
Step 5: Forget about it. Water it if it doesn't rain/snow for a while.
I've never done this before and am suspicious of how well it will work since it just seems too easy. However, after spending the weekend researching winter sowing online, it seems effortless and highly effective. The natural freeze and thaw cycles of winter/early spring weather is perfect for helping seeds germinate in the mini-greenhouses you created with all those plastic containers. The seeds germinate and grow in the containers and are hardier than seeds grown in traditional greenhouses or under lights because they don't need to be hardened off. Once the seedlings are several inches high, they can be transplanted into the garden.
I filled several containers with seed starting mix and then watered well.
Dalea (purple prairie clover) seeds were the only perennial I sowed. Leaving the lid off the jug helps water reach the plant. I cut the jug almost in half to plant the seeds and then taped it shut.
I also sowed biennial malva 'Zebrina', also known as French hollyhocks. I used a hot screwdriver tip to poke the holes.
I sowed talinum (Jewels of Opar) and garlic chives as well. Once the rest of my seed orders come in, I'll sow more seeds.
I tucked these containers into the mulch and have high hopes for their success. It might not work, but I'll never know till I try.
Links to bloggers who know more about winter sowing than I do: