A few weeks ago, I took on one of my favorite spring chores: Cleaning and organizing our small greenhouse.
The shallow upper shelves are great for holding smaller pots and collections.
I love working in the greenhouse and could have spent hours just rearranging pots. But the reason for organizing the greenhouse was to make room for my seedling trays.
This year I’m experimenting with the various types of seedling trays to see which one works best for me.
I’m also growing some annuals that I haven’t tried to grow before.
And of course I’ll be sharing the results of these experiments before next year’s growing season.
But today, I want to focus on a couple of simple basil seedling “recipes” that I’ve cooked up in the greenhouse.
Basil in Eggs
Last year I posted about these Easter eggshell planters and vases. But I didn’t mention the other little project I tried with cracked eggshells: Using them as pots for basil seedling starts.
It was easy: Using a toothpick, I poked a small drain hole in the bottom of each shell. Then I added moist seedling starting mix (which, right or wrong, I usually blend with moist potting soil), and then the seeds.
Then it was just a matter if keeping the seedlings indoors in filtered sunlight and keeping them moist.
Of course this eggshell idea is nothing new. We’ve all seen it on Pinterest and Instagram – and not just using basil seeds. Just about any easy-to-grow herb or annual can be started this way.
It’s a fun way to share seedling starts with friends. What’s even more fun is to dye the eggshells first with food coloring
to make cute Easter party favors.
Basil in eggs are also a sweet addition to holiday place settings.
An adorable idea, but is it all it’s “cracked up” to be? After tying it, here is what I learned:
Basil can be a bit touchy to transplant, but with Basil in Eggs, all the recipient has to do is thin the seedlings a little (leaving two or three), crack the eggshell so that is has enough cracks to allow the roots to grow through, and then plant the seedlings, eggshell and all, into a 6-inch or larger pot. The roots remain relatively undisturbed.
The eggshells are small, so the soil dries out quickly. Unless the seedlings are grown under a clear plastic cover to hold in moisture, they will need to be watched closely and watered often.
Also because the eggshells are small, the seedlings need to be transplanted while they are still fairly small or the roots will be crowded.
Last year I started basil in the greenhouse and later moved it outside to the vintage wash tub.
Moving the basil to the tub only took a few minutes because my basil starts were in “loaves” of soil that were easy to transplant.
I started the seeds in the larger plastic containers that supermarket salad mix comes in.
I poked drain holes in the bottom of each container and then added several inches of moist soil and the seeds. Then I placed the covers loosely on top.
I misted the soil occasionally to keep it moist.
When the seedlings began to emerge, I pushed the cover to one side slightly (about a half inch) to make a gap for air circulation. When the seedlings reached about an inch in height, I took the cover off completely and thinned the seeds so they were two to three inches apart (although conventional wisdom says they should be about four inches apart).
When outdoor temperatures were warm enough, it was time to transplant the basil into the wash tub. I carefully turned the first container upside down and gently pushed on the bottom. And it all came out as one solid block – a tidy loaf of basil and soil!
If I had any trouble freeing a loaf from its container, I just used a utility knife to cut down the center of the plastic container.
Then I just plopped the loaves of basil into the wash tub (which I’d prepared with soil) and planted them.
Many people prefer to direct seed their basil outdoors. But starting basil indoors means I can begin to harvest it sooner and it’s protected from surprise cold snaps.
Repurposing Plastic Containers
This time of year I eye any plastic food container to see if it will help with seed growing. This cherry tomato container was repurposed as a dome for the basil seedlings I’m growing for my mom.
So the greenhouse is looking a bit like a science lab these days.
But the seedlings seem happy.
This post is for entertainment only and is not a tutorial.
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