A friend of mine is very into DIY (do-it-yourself) culture. She recently showed me how to plant a spring vegetable garden without spending a dime (aside from buying seeds, which you will need to buy unless you saved some from last year).
You will likely have all the supplies you need on hand:
- Tape (duct tape works well) or string
- Compost or soil
- Trays (you can use baking dishes, plastic bowls, anything with a flat surface that is rimmed)
- Plastic wrap
- Spritz bottle
Rip the newspaper into 3-4 inch strips and roll them into tubes so the opening is about 2-3 inches across. Tape each tube around the middle or fasten with string so they stay rolled up, as above. Fill each one with compost and set in a tray.
Plant seeds according to the directions on the packet. Most of the seeds will want to be nestled at the top of the dirt. Separate trays by seed type (one tray for tomatoes, another for eggplant, etc) and mark them with tape so you remember what you are sprouting. Plant more seeds that you think you need because many will not make it.
Once you plant, spritz each seed cup with water 2-5 times, so they are moist but not wet. Cover each tray loosely with plastic wrap and set in a warm place. My friend puts her trays above her fridge. The seeds need a bit of light, but not too much or they will dry out. Spritz the seeds once a day, then re-cover with the plastic wrap.
When the seeds have sprouted and grown a bit, a few daily spritzes will not be enough to keep them moist. Stop spritzing and add water so it rises about a half-inch from the bottom of the tray. The newspaper and seed roots will soak up the water. Re-add a half-inch of water every other day or so when the seeds need it. You want them to be moist, but not soaked.
When the seedlings are bursting through the cups, pull the newspaper away and plant outside. You are well on your way to spring harvest!
Reader Iggy has a great tip for creating mini-greenhouses to nurture new seeds:
You can also re-use the styrofoam trays from produce as pot liners. Also, you can create mini-greenhouses out of plastic salad containers or washed out containers from fast food restaurants (tray plus lid). You won’t have to spritz any water for at least a week. It helps to open the container every couple of days for a few minutes to prevent the air from stagnating and checking the moisture level.