04 Aug 2011 1 Comment
With two kids (and school garden full of them!) I’m always looking for good ways to engage kids in the garden. Being that it’s August and HOT in Central Florida, our options are limited. However, I’ve learned to get a head start on my growing season by starting seeds indoors. Actually, on the patio. (Not like it’s snowing or anything where they need the cozy comfort of my home interior.) Without some type of cover, these babies will surely fry.
So perusing my many garden magazines and websites, I stumbled upon this gem of an idea. Start your tomato sprouts in eggshells! Why eggshells? Have you not been reading my posts? Eggshells are the secret to eliminating blossom-end rot! Yep. Along with a sprinkle of epsom salts, that is. Together, these two ingredients make all the difference in the blooming beauty of your tomatoes. Besides, it’s fun! Who doesn’t love cracking eggshells and planting seeds in them? Jiminy Cricket we’re talking craft heaven here!
To begin, is obvious: secure a carton of eggs, preferably the cardboard kind. Plastic and plants do not get along. Ick. Next, find someone to eat these 12 eggs so you can have the empty shells! Note on egg cracking: go easy and try to be break the egg along a center line around the egg. You can do this by gently tapping the egg against the edge of a pan or dish, while rotating it around as you do so. Once free of slippery goo–clean them before you do anything else. No sense in getting salmonella. You can’t garden from a hospital bed, so play it safe. Clean, rinse, dry.
Perfect. Now you’re ready to fill your shells with dirt; rich organic dirt but be sure it’s light enough to drain well. Soggy seeds do not germinate. And speaking of draining, poke a small hole in the bottom of your shell. You can manage this with a safety-pin or paper clip. Again, key word when dealing with eggshells is gentle. Be gentle.
Now that you have your dirt in place, drop one or two seeds on top and lightly cover with dirt. We always like to plant two seeds per plot because quite simply, all seeds don’t sprout. And we wouldn’t want to waste these lovely eggshells, now would we?
After your seeds begin to sprout, you can transfer them to larger containers or directly into your garden, depending on where you garden. Here in Central Florida, my sproutlings won’t see the garden until September. Of course last year we were caught off guard by an early freeze but this year it won’t matter–my babies will be ready by end of November! Starting now gives them a good four months to produce tomatoes before Jack Frost can get his hands on them.