sprout protection — from seed to seedling

13 Apr

Matthew emphatically does not love Brussels sprouts. He makes expansive gestures to describe how repellent they are and contorts alarmingly at their mere mention. I on the other hand love them and so about two weeks ago laid down some seeds in a fresh tub and crossed my fingers.

Because my garden is only wee and entirely in containers, and my budget quite constrained, I do occasionally have to be a bit enterprising. Unless I were to build it myself from bits of old panes skimmed from skips (which I’d be very tempted to do if I wasn’t worried about the boys from the school down the round getting a bit smash-happy on their way home), a greenhouse is quite out of the question. However, seeds do need certain conditions if they are to germinate.

As a bit of a recycling queen, I decided that rather than buy propagator lids, I should make my own using materials that would otherwise be heading to the landfill or recycling centre. I seem to have heaps of torn up old plastic folders lying about after marking season (though I promise I did try to send them back to their owner). These bits of plastic not only help to trap moisture but also allow sunlight to penetrate.

Step 1: Split the folder along the seams and cut to size.


I usually overlap my pieces if they’re destined for a circular pot. Any plastic film will do — I’ve used the wrapper from a Schwepps tonic water bottle and that worked just as well.

Step 2: Use jam jar lids to hold them in place until shoots begin to appear.


The lids will be just enough to weigh the flimsy plastic down (very important during gusty April showers) but still light enough not to disturb the soil above the seeds. Remember to peel the plastic back every couple of days to give the soil some air and drain the condensation build-up. Once teeny shoots begin to appear, remove the plastic sheet.


Step 3: Find an old milk jug and cut it in half, then carefully position over your row of seedlings cut-side down.


Just like the plastic folders, the jugs protect the seedlings, but still give them breathing room, a nice moist environment and allow the heat and light from the sun to penetrate. By the time they’ve outgrown the jugs, they’ll be strong enough to withstand the elements all on their own.

This makeshift propagation can be used for just about any type of seedling and in any type of container. Just don’t tell Matthew that those are Brussels under there!


One Response to “sprout protection — from seed to seedling”

  1. loutheperson 13 April 2009 at 9:15 pm #

    Aw your sprouts are so cute! Great idea with the milk bottles!

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