Sowing Seeds While Sheltering-In-Place

Why should you start seeds inside? To lengthen their growing season! For example, it takes about 90 days for tomatillos to go from seed to first harvest, and the weather won't always be ideal throughout that time. By starting the seeds inside, our plants will mature at the height of summer and yield multiple harvests. Plus, a packet of seeds is around $1.50 with potential for over a dozen plants, while a transplant is one plant for around $4. If we coordinate now, by the time Shelter-In-Place is lifted, we’ll be swapping starts with our neighbors

Adorable dog pictured with potting soil.Materials:
1. Potting soil (tip: mix in vermiculite for extra drainage).
2. Something relatively shallow to hold the soil and seeds: empty egg cartons, tiny nursery pots, and empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls all work and are found around the house.
3. A waterproof container to hold your pots, like a baking dish or plastic tray.
4. Seeds! Today, we’re planting tomatillo seeds.
5. In the following photos, we’re also starting cilantro and garlic chives, herbs that like germinating in cooler temperatures and can be sown right in the pots they’ll eventually live in.
6. Optional: A supervisor. Pictured below is Penny, our rescue dog. She looks adorable basking in sunshine and excels at barking at squirrels, which are must-have skills for all garden helpers.


Instructions (follow along in the slideshow below!)

  1. Prep your seed pots: cut the top off the egg carton, cut TP or paper towel rolls down to 2-3” tall
  2. Fill containers with soil and dampen soil. Leave room to top the seeds with more soil - here, we’re leaving ¼”
  3. Place seeds according to the package instructions
  4. Cover with recommended soil depth and water with warm water
  5. Label with what was planted and when
  6. If they pass inspection…

set them in their new home! They’ll want a sunny, warm window or a spot under a grow light. Keep the soil moist to encourage germination!

1_ Prep containers


Our garlic chives and cilantro can be planted right into their permanent homes. 

Instructions (follow along with the slideshow below):

  1. To encourage drainage, place rocks, terracotta pot shards, or styrofoam in the bottom of the pot. I take a medicine that’s shipped in styrofoam packaging - not the most environmentally friendly, but it's unavoidable. Reusing the packaging like this repurposes it in a way that benefits the environment. Plus, it doesn’t add weight to the pots and it’s free! 
  2. To leave room for roots to explore (and encourage drainage) we can mix worm castings or vermiculite with our potting soil. 
  3. Fill the pots, water the dirt, and place seeds per the package recommendation. 
  4. Firm the dirt over the seeds, add a label, water them a final time, and place them in their new home. 
  5. Finally, pour a cup of tea and bask in the sunshine! 
1. Encourage Drainage

1 comment

  • Dennis says...

    Good choice of subject!
    I planted my tomato seed starters yesterday and I’m hoping to keep them warm enough to produce germination in 10 days or so.

    On March 20, 2020

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