Gardening on a Dime and Avoiding Waste

I recently ran low on supplies for this year’s gardening and money is tight this week, so I decided to improvise with some of my seed starting.  For those of you who are also gardening on a budget or just don’t like to waste materials that are still usable, here’s a technique I put together for using would-be trash for seed starting.  All you need is some used tea lights, an empty rotisserie chicken container, sewing pins, and some coconut coir pellets (about $3 at Loews, the only ingredient I purchased specifically for this project).

First I scraped out any left over wax from the tea lights and removed the wicks.  Then I poked a few holes in the thin metal with the sewing pins (thick hat pins work even better), this offers drainage for your seedlings.

Next I used the coconut coir to fill the tea lights.  Just let me state how amazing coconut coir is and how easy it is to go overboard with the little pellets.  Coconut coir holds water extremely well and expands like crazy.  At the Flower Show, one of the vendors had a wheel barrow full of the moist airy material from one brick-sized piece. Once a little water is added, you only need one pellet for 3 tea lights.
I put a couple of seeds in each tea light. For today, I planted sage, catnip (for China, my cat), and just for grins, I’ve planted seeds from last summer’s Hibiscus plant. I covered the seeds with more coir and later, I’ll water them with a fertilizer because I’ve heard that the material doesn’t contain many nutrients, it’s just good for holding water and allowing roots to grow.
Finally, I used a rotisserie chicken container (which has been washed out and the sticker scratched off) to act as a little hot house.  If you don’t have one of those containers you can use almost any plastic containers that have clear lids.
I’m excited to see how well this will work.  If anyone has experience with coconut coir I’d love to hear about it.  I haven’t seen many reviews online, I guess it’s still a fairly uncommon gardening material in this country.
The more you know:
For more information about coconut coir, check out this site, which compares different seed starting mediums.

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