February 8, 2012 - Potting Up



The roots of the lettuce seedlings I started for my "windowsill garden" were beginning to grow out of their soil blocks, so I decided it was time to pot them up. I looked at Walmart and Shopko for some lightweight plastic pots that were short enough to fit under the lights and wide enough to hold at least four lettuce plants. I found nothing, just tall round pots. I found exactly what I wanted in a long narrow pot at Fred Meyer, but it was $7, not including the drain tray. My cheap frugal self opted out of that one. Off to the dollar store, and once again I found exactly what I was looking for. A dollar apiece, I bought four of them.


They had no drainage holes, so once again I got out my trusty hot glue gun. I've ruined many pots using a drill to put in the holes, but this glue gun is foolproof on lightweight plastics.


My bathroom has become my potting shed. You know you have a problem when you have to wash the potting soil from your toothbrush before brushing your teeth! Hey, a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do when it's freezing outside!


A plastic fork, with the outer tines broken off, was a perfect tool for removing the small seedlings for transplanting.


Eight Red Sails lettuce plants are comfy under their temporary 2' light. The 4' shop light fixtures were on sale at Fred Meyer this week, for only $8.99 each. Of course, they were sold out. I got a rain check.


I have to buy some cupcakes. I don't want the cupcakes, but the bakery container that held my birthday cupcakes is absolutely perfect for securely holding these small Dixie cups. I can just pour a bit of water in them to bottom water the plants. Daughter Amy said she'll bring a dozen cupcakes for our Valentine's Day dinner......she's such a good girl. Anyway, I transplanted 8 celery seedlings into the cups, and four Mini Gold tomatoes. I wanted one tomato plant for the windowsill, so what did I do? I planted four seeds to make sure I'd get one plant. Yes, every seed germinated. What will I do with four Mini Gold plants?


The green things that are growing in my bedroom.



OK, tell me why. Close to 100% germination on these onions. They are 1-2" tall already. The very same day I took another identical container, filled it with the identical planting mix, seeded it with the second packet of the identical variety of seeds that were from the same company (Mike the Gardener's Seeds of the Month Club) that had arrived in the mail on that very same day, covered it with identical plastic wrap and set them side by side on the same shelf. In other words, there was no difference at all in the two plantings. The second container has failed to germinate a single plant! Beats me!


40 comments:

  1. Nice find at the dollar store. You are going to be eating lettuce out of your bedroom in no time ;-)

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  2. looks like you have a lot of wonderful seedlings!

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  3. I buy those cupcake holders at the grocery store bakery for about $1.75 each....but the cupcakes are sure a nice bonus!!!

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  4. Liisa, salad for breakfast in bed?

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    Mrs. Pickles, this is only the beginning....bwahahaha!

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    Kris, I never thought to ask if they'd sell the containers. Good idea, I'd like to have about 10 more of them and I sure don't want to have to eat 120 cupcakes!

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  5. I think you should just ask the person working in the bakery for the containers you need. Maybe they'll give you a few from their stock. The difference in germination you described is a mystery. It's like trying to figure out why twins are not the same! Your lettuce looks very healthy. I hope all your seeds have good germination percentages.

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  6. Jody, I always plant way too many seeds, thinking germination may be a problem. Then they all sprout and grow, and I can't bear to give/throw them away, so I have to find more room to crowd them into the garden!

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  7. I absolutely love your growlight setup! Nice! I am so jealous!

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  8. Looking good! I'm glad your Mini Gold tomatoes had 100% germination. Must be the source, LOL. Interesting that you had such varied results with your onions. That one has me stumped. I always sow too many seeds, but I'm usually using seeds between 5 and 10 years old.

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  9. I did that last year. "I need three per cup" and ended up with three germinated little seedlings. Needless to say I sat on my patio and untangled little roots from roots long after the sun set and had a billion little tomato plants. Sadly I planted too late so most never got much chance. oops. I am amazed at how fast yours is coming along. I am soooo going to check freddies for the shop lights tomorrow!! Very excited! Tight budget here and I loved your ideas for seed starting options. Did u ever see the idea to cut tubes of paper towels into shorter lengths for seed starting or using egg shells? I don't think egg shells is time economical but ppr towel rolls cut up is great. Saw a place to do your own folded newspaper pots. ...let me get it now for you:
    http://www.noordinaryhomestead.com/dailiness/recycling-a-little-junk-mail/
    is one example and
    http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2009/02/newspaper-seedling-packs.html
    and there's a third round pot option that's simple also. I was thinking maybe those juice boxes your grand daughter probably sucks down with the tops cut off might make great seed starter boxes. hmm. might contact friend to save hers!
    love the hot glue gun idea also.

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  10. This is how you get 50 tomato plants in your garden every year. I wish I were there for you. I could pluck out two of those plants without a problem. I'm so heartless.

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  11. Annie's Granny, I love the pots you found at the local dollar store. I may have to head out to ours once the birthday palooza is over here.

    I would first, keep the tomato seedlings to make sure that they all keep growing. When I was sure I had enough, I would give some of the tomato seedlings to someone I thought would really grow them. I always plant four, hoping for one, too. This year I had 100% germination on many things. It made for a lot of plants in my laundry room/grow center. I am keeping all mine. ( I know I just told you I would give them away, but I didn't.)

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  12. I am so glad you are growing things, too!I have all my grow lights going during the day, people must wonder what I am growing-lol. I have 256 pansy growing that I started in january. I also am growing stock for containers this year in spring. I'm growing all my flowers etc for containter + art projects. I roll my own pots out of newspaper, so it helps to keep the cost down. The only bad thing is my hands turn black from the ink-:-)Your lettuce looks great...I 'm eager to read and hear all about your garden this summer....will check in later..I don't read blogs too often in the winter...robbie :-) p.s. I love those dollar a piece planters...need to get me some!

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  13. Thanks for the mention Annie .. I loved the fork idea so I had to pin it up on Pinterest :-)

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  14. Meems, it's working well for me now, but what on earth am I going to do with that big monster when I no longer need it for seedlings? LOL, I think it will have to be dismantled and stored, or I'll have to find a spot for it on the patio. Too bad my patio is on the north side of the house and covered, so it gets no sun.

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  15. Ed, I'm sure it was the source. I should have known! Yes, the onions have me stumped. I'd think nothing of it if they were a different variety, or from a different source, but to have planted them in identical ways, one right after the other? Doesn't make sense to me.

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  16. Amy T. I have tried and discarded all those little planting pot ideas. Egg shells and egg cartons are way too shallow. The newspaper pots did not disintegrate at all in my soil and stifled the plant roots. The paper towel and toilet tissue rolls DID disintegrate, they fell apart the first time the plants were watered and that was a real mess. I love the soil blocks for starting most plants, and the small plastic Dixie cups for larger ones, especially tomatoes and peppers. They then get potted up into the 16 ounce cups. I wash and reuse them year after year, unless I put them where I can't find them, like this year! I have located my big cups though, so they won't have to be replaced.

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  17. Daphne, you know me well. It would be OK if this were the end of March. Then they could go into the garden (mine and someone else's) in May. But this was supposed to be ONE plant to try to grow to fruiting inside. Mini Gold is such a prolific little thing, we'd never be able to consume all the tomatoes from two plants, let alone four!

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    Crafty Christy, see my comment to Daphne (above). I will have dozens of tomatoes sprouting up in pots come mid-March, but it's way too early to start them now. This was meant to be one tomato plant, LOL! Ed sent me the seeds, and said they were several years old, so I overplanted to compensate for their age....I thought I'd be lucky if I got a 25% germination rate. Silly me. I admit I'm always guilty of planting at least three seeds for every plant I want to start. I've never lost a tomato or pepper seedling, so I always end up with way too many in the garden. Last year I actually put a bunch, and I mean probably a couple dozen, tomato plants by the street with a "free" sign, just to get rid of them.

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  18. Robbie, I've never had luck with the newspaper pots. I think it must be that my soil drains and dries out too quickly, 'cause the darned things will not disintegrate. I used them one year, and I was digging out the pots the following spring, all in one piece.

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  19. You're welcome, Mike. Any idea why one packet of the onions is growing so well, yet the other (91 seeds) has failed to germinate even one single seedling?

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  20. Granny, You are way ahead of me! I need to start those onions and a couple of other things. But, the only place that I can get good potting mix is only open on Sat from 10-4 in the winter. I better get myself over there this Saturday!

    That is so strange about the onion seeds. I am going to try to be good this year and not start too many extra tomato plants. I have a hard time pulling them too!

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  21. You always have the best tips! Glad to see things getting potted up, I'll be next in about 2 weeks hopefully!

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  22. It is great to know that I am not alone. My garage shelves are already full of plants - and I think I have my hubby convienced that I need more space and lights!

    I did notice that you are growing celery this spring. I have never grown celery but I was told to only plant it in the fall. How does your celery do in the spring? I really want to grow some (I even bought the seeds) but I don't want to give up space to a plant that will not thrive in the spring. :)

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  23. Ahaaaa! thanks for the info b/c i was going to try the paper towel pots! Last year I used just short wide plastic cups too and the only prob was no holes in bottoms. I had flats of them all over my house with zero grow lights and lost some to legginess and some did just fine. I tried to save the cups last year but decided it was more work than worth to save. I should but we have limited storage space. Still a lot more FRUGAL than the flats. Though I just saw some flats of 72 cells for five of the packs for 15 bucks at territorial seed company i think. they also had the flat bottom, the mesh bottom and the lids in 5 pks for $15.95 each. not too bad to pay five bucks for 72 premade cells. The cups though ...hold more soil and give you a longer time to grow roots before transplant time. Thanks for the very timely info b/c I woulda had the big mess and can now recycle the stack of cardboard tubes sitting on my kitchen pass thru. yikes. this stuff is a space taker upper but it's a short time of the year that the seedlings have to grow indoors. I loved the line about the toothbrush with soil on it!

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  24. Erin, I'm still a good month away from my main seed starting. That's even a bit early, I always end up with such large plants by the time i can get them in the garden.

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  25. Robin, why were you hiding above Erin? I almost missed you LOL!

    I found some organic Burpee's seed starting mix on sale, so that's what I used for potting up. Except the lettuce. I ran out to the composted manure pile and put some in the plastic bucket, then over to the garden and put some soil into the bucket, then into the shed for some peat and vermiculite, and put that in the bucket. A bit of this, a bit of that, no measurements!

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  26. Christy, this is my first venture at growing celery, but I was assured by Kitsap that it was the correct time to start it. I think I'll put it near the lettuce, in the cooler part of the garden.

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  27. Amy, just burn a drain hole in the bottom of the cups with a hot glue gun. I like the cups for plants that don't mind having their stems covered with some soil, like tomatoes, peppers and brassicas. I only fill the cups half full when I plant the seeds, then as the plant grows I add soil around the stem. I actually did that with the celery, I hope it doesn't mind!

    I use the cardboard tubes to make cutworm collars for all my transplants. I cut them in 2" lengths and cut them open along one side, then wrap it around the stem so it's partially above and partially below ground. I use the toilet paper tubes for this, as they easily disintegrate once the plant is large enough to not be bothered by the cutworm.

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  28. Granny, here is a tip for drilling holes in plastic. Actually it is good practice to do when drilling in any material and a must when drilling in metal. Start with a very small bit size, say 5/64 or 3/32. Increase bit size a few 32nds. each time to gradually enlarge your hole until you reach the size hole you want. 3/32, 1/8, 5/32, 3/16, 1/4, 3/8 etc. This prevents tear-out and cracking. Don't press hard and make sure drill bits are sharp.

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  29. I had to chuckle at your onion mystery. Something like that happened to me once and it wasn't until weeks later I discovered MY problem. I had 2 kinds of onions, both new seeds, both from the same company, and both with very fresh 'sell by' dates on the back. But in the middle of seeding both trays I got a phone call and it was a long chat. When I came back I finished seeding the other tray. HA! One tray never sprouted, the other did. Within a few weeks I could tell that both colors were growing in the SAME TRAY. LOL Have no guess as to why your's didn't sprout. Hope someone can help there. :-D

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  30. The newspaper pots only work if you tear them up a little before planting. I like yogurt containers for tomatoes -- big for big seedlings. I don't know -- I'm easier about killing spare seedlings as long as they're tiny. Two sets of true leaves and I'm a goner : )

    You have a lot going on in your bedroom!

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  31. Spiderjohn, you silly boy ;-) Don't you know, if I used the drill, I'd first have to find it in Mr. Granny's garage? Then I'd have to find the drill bits (yes, I've sorted and put them where they belong....but they are no longer there), then I'd bring it in and get everything ready AND....the battery would be dead. It's so much easier to plug in my hot glue gun for the thin plastic containers.

    Someday maybe I'll buy myself a drill ;-)

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  32. Kris, I know I didn't plant them all in the same container, because I made seed mats out of toilet tissue strips, and planted both containers side by side at the same time! No way could I have doubled one up. Still no sign of life in the second container. The first one has seedlings large enough that they went outside and got a bit of rainwater yesterday.

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  33. Stefaneener, I used the yogurt containers for celery this year, but had four seeds per container and potted them up singly to the cups. I like the yogurt containers, but the brand I eat is the wrong shape to fit in that neat little cupcake container (my current new love). I need to switch to store brand yogurt, I guess ;-)

    I shred my newspapers and use them as "browns" in the compost, or lay sheets of pages in the paths for weed control. IF I get my wishes for the new garden area this spring, I'll probably use them, shredded, as mulch. I just wasn't happy with the paper pots.

    There really isn't much going on in my bedroom. Oh....you meant the plants! LOL!

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  34. I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. I'm honoring you with the Versatile Blogger award.

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  35. Mrs. Pickles, thank you so much! I have already received (twice) and responded to this award in the past, so I'll just let you know that whether it's the first or the hundredth time, each and every award is appreciated and very special to me.

    I heart your blog, too :-D

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  36. Seeing this reminded me I have some pepper seeds for you to try if you are interested. You were 'offline' in AZ this winter when I was giving them away. Just let me know.

    I have used a drill many times to put drainage holes in a container, but never thought about using a glue gun. What a great idea!

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  37. Dave, offering seeds to this gardener is like offering cocaine to a drug addict! You can contact me by email, anniebloom1 at gmail dot com

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  38. Annie's Granny, I wish I lived near you. I would definitely swing by there and pick up a plant or two that you put by the side of the road!

    I have already lost 2 of my tomato plants, because I first transplanted them into something that let them get too wet. Sigh.

    I wish I could say that I never lose any tomato seedlings, but, alas, that is not the case for me. That's why I need to have so many extras. I might kill some of them accidentally, by trying the wrong method.

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  39. I bought some of the same pots last year from Dollar Tree. Although, I cracked quite a few of them trying to poke out the drainage holes. The hot glue gun is a great idea! Definitely going to do that this year. Thanks!

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  40. Laura, I cracked a lot of them, too, as well as many plastic cups! They did have some heavier ones, with rope handles, that are practically indestructible though. I was able to use the drill on those, and they are heading into their third year with no breakage at all!

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