Depending on what part of the country you're in, it's getting to be the time of year when we will need to get started with some of our early seed starting. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and many herbs and summer veggies can benefit from being started anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months early indoors.
If you buy new planting trays every year, you can go ahead and proceed as you normally would. Fill with starting medium, maybe cover with plastic, and either set in a window or build yourself a seed starting set up and put up lights. If, however, you're like me and try to conserve a little bit of money as well as maybe not use as many resources, then you'll likely try planting many of your seeds in starter trays that you've kept over from previous years. There will of course be trays that have met there useful end and must be scrapped, but taking a little time to clean and store the ones that have not will go a long way to increasing the "bottom line" in your home garden in the long run.
There is one thing that must be taken into consideration when reusing planting supplies however. Sanitation. Just as germs and bacteria can be spread in our kitchens through careless sanitation, so too can they be spread in our gardens. Many of those bacteria and disease strains can be terribly harmful to our gardens if not devastating. Fortunately for us, as the gardeners and caretakers of our gardens, there is a simple way for us to mitigate this potential disaster.
Each year before I begin planting, I pull out my trays, sort through those that have become unusable, clean off the cobwebs and give them a bleach bath.
I happen to have a dedicated sink in my garage workshop that I make use of for this, but a simple bucket of bleach water, a folding table or even a board over a pair of saw horses will work perfectly well. The point is that you want to kill off any harmful bacteria before you start new seedlings in these trays.
After you've cleaned the trays that you want to use, it's not a bad idea to give some of your other implements a dip as well before dumping out the water. Pruners, loppers, trowels and other tools come in direct contact with our plants and can also hold dormant bacteria or spores.
The long and the short of it is that with a little planning, and investment of a small bit of time, you can make sure to get your seedlings and your grand plans for this years garden off to a great start.
You can reach Paul Gardener by email, or check his personal blog at
A posse ad esse.
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