Mini Greenhouses are Valuable when Starting from Seeds

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.” –WE Johns

Greenhouses allow gardeners to expand their growing season. For most of us, having a normal size greenhouse isn’t possible. However, you can easily make mini ones out of milk jugs or other non clear container. You want to use opaque containers where the sun won’t be so bright on the tender seedlings. Drainage holes need to be punched into the bottom of the containers. Cut the milk jugs in half almost all the way around, leave the handle section in tack. Fill the milk jugs with potting soil in the bottom half, moisten the soil with warm water but don’t saturate it.  Put your seeds barely in the soil. Tape the container closed around the middle with duct tape. Make sure to label it withe the type of seeds and date started. Now just place them in a sunny place outside where they can also get moisture through the opening (where you left the cap off). Seedlings should emerge within 2 weeks. The best seeds to start this way are hardy annual flowers, cool temperature vegetables, and herbs. I have several varieties of marigolds, thai basil, snow peas, and baby leaf lettuce. Milk jug greenhouses are easy to start and require little attention. Once the seedlings are seen to be established inside the jugs, you will need to remove the tape and open them up. At this point, you have small pot plants that can be transplanted into your garden or remain in the milk jugs.

Other mini greenhouses are the tray varieties. I have a couple of those to start in a few days. I will have tomatoes and peppers in those trays. But unlike the milk jug greenhouses, the trays remain inside. They also need additional heating and light sources by way of heating mats and special grow lights. Because the space for the seeds are much smaller in the trays, it is recommended to use seed starting mix instead of potting soil. I did this last year and it worked out great!

The body can be viewed as a greenhouse for God’s grace. The Holy Spirit will put seeds or ideas in our minds. Over time we tend to those ideas and allow them to grow into thoughts and actions. He gives us special resources by way of bible studies and each other to learn from and share his love with.

From Container Dreams to Greenhouse Abundance

“If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden.” –Robert Brault

I have been around gardens all my life. When I was little, my family and grandparents had large vegetable gardens. However, my family ended up moving a lot, so we had more house plants and flower gardens instead of vegetable ones, by the time I was in middle school. When my grandparents were no longer able to have their own gardens, we would frequent the farmer’s markets and friends who still planted them. Oh such sweet memories of shucking corn, shelling peas, and snapping beans around the table or on the deck, preparing vegetables to be canned or frozen.

My husband and I rented an apartment for the first few years of marriage. So containers of flowers in our patio area became a special peaceful spot. We would have picnics among them frequently. Squirrels would bury their nuts in them and our cat loved watching the adventure from the window. Then when we bought a house, containers of flowers were refreshed yearly. After our first son was a few years old, we thought to try growing vegetables in containers. It wouldn’t take a lot of effort or space to try growing them. We started with tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers (for making pickles). However, the harvest was small, but it made dreams of growing some of our own food in an  actual garden in the side yard.

It has been 8 years since those containers brought that joy. Now the garden adventure has blossomed into a 646 square foot garden. Over that time, there have been ups and downs. I have attempted starting vegetables from seeds that were bought from a chain store and from online sources. I have grown plants that were bought from a chain store and from online sources. I have discovered the seeds bought from a chain store didn’t produce well. However, the seeds from a local seed farm (bought online) produced extremely well. Lesson learned to buy local beginnings to end up with great success. Also, specialized seed starting mix works well where as just potting soil, to start seeds off, doesn’t. A heat mat and grow lamp ensures better chance of growth from a seed to plant. Lesson learned to have specialty items in order for more success with tender seedlings to plants.

The garden vegetables to grow have gone from 3 types into 9 different types with numerous flowers interspersed. Learning about companion planting with flowers not only make the garden look pretty, but serve as a way to get beneficial insects into the garden. Crop rotation is a helpful technique to ensure more success for the harvest by optimizing the soil nutrients. Milk jug greenhouses allow you start some seeds early before the soil is workable. Using a greenhouse allows you to keep your growing plants safe when the spring weather is unpredictable and the garden soil isn’t warm enough or ready yet.

This year I have an abundance of plants in my greenhouse. I started out with seeds specifically known to grow in my region. I used seed starting mix with extra nutrients. Some seeds I planted in milk jug greenhouses in the beginning of March. The ones I started inside were on a heat mat to heat up the soil mixture to optimal germination temperature. Then I have used a grow lamp to get adequate light on them in order for them to grow sturdy. I have more healthy plants from seed than I have ever had before. Soon they will be put into the ground in my garden to continue growing and hopefully producing a wonderful harvest.

God has blessed me through this process. He physically shows me an abundance of a harvest can come from a tiny seed. Following steps to nurture the smallest details will bring great success in a garden and in life.