8 Free Seed-Starters

There’s no need to go break the bank on fancy seed trays. Up-cycle any of these for a quick and easy (and free) solution. Eventually I plan on buying a couple soil blockers in order to cut down on our waste and use of plastic, but until I can invest in that tool this is what we did this year. Check it out. 

  1. Milk cartons– these were empty epsom salt cartons we just cut the top off and filled with soil. 
  2. Toilet paper rolls– we save all our rolls for crafts or firestartes, and now see starters. Works great for peas since you can fill halfway and back fill as the sprouts grown taller. 
  3. Shallow boxes– this was my mother’s experiment and it worked amazing for sunflowers, and that’s just mulch from the chicken yard. 
  4. Shipping materials– fill with soil and plant. Boom. 
  5. Juice bottles– all did was cut off the top and added two drain holes. 
  6. Egg cartons— ever tried planting tomatoes in egg shells?And here’s a couple more options that I didn’t have the chance to try, though I have seen other folks find great success with also 
  7. Milk jugs– simply cut the jug in half and discard top half, poke some drain holes in the bottom and voila! 
  8. Coffee cans– coffee cans are great since they hold warmth quite well and can be reused many times. All you you need to do is take a hammer and a nail and add a few drain holes in the bottom. For an added effect only fill halfway with soil and cover it with plastic to retain temperature, sorta like a greenhouse.
  • One a side note: instead of buying more greenhouse seed trays I also started a great deal of our garden in paper cups and solo cups that we had lying around the house, saved a lot of money doing that folks!

As you can see, there’s no need to spend countless dollars year after year on expensive to buy cheaply made plastic seed trays. This is more sustainable and much more financially forgiving. Not to mention you will be cutting down on your household waste and reusing those paper/plastic/metal products. Most of the paper based ones can also be planted directly into the ground. Give it a try, what can you lose? And just keep planting seeds y’all!

Okra in the sunset.

Peace and Love

Q

    Homestead Plan 2017

    Holy cow where did last year go?
    We accomplished a lot in 2016 and failed at even more. 

    The onions I planted so the horses could trample them…
    We’re learning to grow and live more seasonally and to appreciate what we have while we have it. 

    Like all homesteaders this is a lesson that has been tough to learn. We wanted (and did) to dive right into the deep end. Some of our endeavors were successful and others a horrible tragedy. 

    My little chicken helper
    But not this year. We’re on a new property with a whole new lease on our homesteading dreams. 

    We have learned so much the last two years and it’s it so lucky you can take all your trials and tribulations with you, isn’t it? I don’t know what I would do without all the hands on hours I’ve had of trying to make things work. 

    But that’s just it, we can’t make things work in our favor all the time. Sometimes we just need to go with that flow. 

    And I gotta say that all homesteaders have one flaw, the fact that we have to learn it on our own. Am I right? A fellow steader can tell you all their stories and give warning after warning but you’ll still need to learn it for yourself.  

    Raised beds which grew so much food!
    This is most ardently true of us Gardner’s. Were cheap (frugal) and we’re ok with a little hard work and good ole fashion elbow grease. 
    So this year there’s lots to be done. 

    Here’s a little of what we have in store:

    • Build Justin Rhodes’ Chickshaw
    • Put away 60 broilers in freezer camp
    • Establish our crop garden
    • Build more garden spaces and soil– put those chooks to work!
    • Build a greenhouse
    • Can and freeze our harvest for winter (basically I want to grow enough veggies to sustain us through winter)
    • Add 30 laying hens
    • Grow 10 turkeys- also for freezer camp 
    • Build a hog pen
    • Expand meat rabbit project – build pasture pens
    • Put up 5 tons of hay for winter
    • Fence in and seed front pasture – horse grazing

    It’s a lot to get done and that’s just the big things… 

      we’ve got a lot of work ahead and I can’t way for this snow to melt so we can get started!

      Peace and Love…. and seed starts!

      Q

      A homestead school experiment for Ireland

      Summer Snipets. And What I Learned About Me. 

      We’ve been a little blog MIA lately enjoying all the sunshine! Here’s a little photo story of what’s been going on here on and off the Gardner Homestead. 

      Our hen Margox hatched our first ever batch of   homegrown chicks. All 7 chicks are growing up fast. 

      First time seeing those tiny feet!

      Spencer and I lucked out on some KID-FREE time and went to see Smash Mouth. Save to say I was wayyy more excited than my hubs. 

      Our little Murphy girl is a walking, running, babbling adorable toddler now. How did it happen so fast?!?

      Oh Ireland, my Ireland. Please stop growing up so darn fast! Love, Mom

      If we harvest nothing else, there’s always onions.

      Thank you to whichever previous tenant planted the beauties. This our third summer here, is the first year they’ve had a full bloom. 

      See that cute spud? Yeah he and his siblings froze to death in Mid-June. They’ve finally bounced back…

      Happy 4th of July from these Gardner girls. 

      What’s a homestead without a messy backyard full of chickens?

      This baby is chore partner, she’s always by my side (or on my back!)

      Kato’s first time packing. Deaf dogs need jobs to right?

      Getting lost in my hop jungle, our third season with these Willamette Hops is sure to be a big producer.  Can you say home brewed IPA? 

      Exploring the Metolius River trails with my tribe of toddlers and dogs. 

      My little Irish earthlings

      Symbiotic hiking partner, she’s a versatile baby. She gets a free ride, while providing never ending cuteness, drooly kisses, and keeps me in shape!

      Some of that 4th madness! Shhhh…

      I can’t survive a summer without these, my favorites!

      Exploring our natural world close at hand.

      Planting beans for nitrogen to feed the corn
      1/2 Farm girl 1/2 daddy’s little princess
      Giving some summer lovin’ to my favorites
      Ireland saw her first play, The Little Mermaid

      The peas, oh these lovely purple peas. 

      Weekly harvests are almost over.
      Ladder rack rabbit tractor? Oh, yeah!

      One thing I’ll never do again is plant the hops so close to the house. They’re a harbor for bugs and insects, some good and some bad, but all of them right at my back door 🙁


      Like I said, I knew there would be onions. So far we’ve harvested radishes, onions, lettuce, kale, zucchini, and shelling peas. 

      That’s just a little of what’s happened this summer. Trust me there’s more but I won’t bore you with it here. Head on over to IG to see our full homestead photo diary @thegardnerhome. 

      Oh yeah, and if I know anything about me it’s that I love summer, case and point for this short update. I’m spending more time with family, less time with technology, and that’s OK. Keep an eye out for some of our new projects and plans… YouTube Vlog? 

      No spoilers yet!

      What have you been up to on or off your homestead this season? 

      Peace and Love,

      Quincy