I want to say spring has sprung, but alas, there is snow on the ground again. March 16 in Southern Illinois- more snow, and 20 degrees. Wow! I have to admit, though, we have had some beautiful days in between, like yesterday- sunny and 65 degrees. I’ll take that.
Seed starting has been in full swing in this house for about a month or so. As market gardeners, we have a wide variety of herbs and vegetables that we start from seed. This year, we decided to start as many as we could in our house. That way, we have full control over the entire operation and it makes it easier to be attentive to the plants and aware of their needs.
It feels like the plants have taken over. They started out just taking up one side of the spare room. Then, they filled a long table on the other side. Before I knew it, my husband had added another level to the plant station on the first side, with more lights. Suddenly, more plants were on the counter in my entryway with more lights. I hope it warms up soon and they can go out to our small greenhouse because I’m not sure where else they can go. They seem so happy inside right now that I think they would rather I left so they could take up my bedroom. Sorry plants, that’s where I draw the line!
(As I was writing this post, my husband came in the room and asked if he could please commandeer the kitchen table until tomorrow for more seedlings. He didn’t even know I was writing about this very thing!!!)
Okay, I’m sorry I’m rambling, we must get to the need to label each plant. When you are starting seeds, and especially multiple varieties of a plant, it is extremely important that each seedling is clearly labeled. It’s so easy to get things mixed up if you don’t. Sure, you may recognize a tomato seedling when you see the true leaves emerge, but what variety was it? Was it Red Brandywine? Or perhaps Arkansas Traveler? Big Beef maybe? Label, label, label!!!
We have tried various methods for labeling our plants. A major consideration when planting in quantity is cost. I have bought really nice plastic plant markers (like these) in stores and they work great. They are thick and sturdy and fine if you have a small number of plants. They don’t last forever, as I found out this year. We save and reuse everything we can but when I went to reuse these they were dry-rotted and fell apart.
On to the next frugal idea, popsicle sticks, which we have used before. These can be picked up in large quantities for so cheap, like the big box at Michael’s craft store + your 40% off coupon = super frugal. The downside is, as you water your plants, the permanent marker tends to run over time and become hard to read. This is true no matter what color your marker is. Also, the moisture tends to stay in the wood and can cause mold to develop. My husband and I started this year using popsicle sticks but I quickly determined they were going to have to get replaced for fear we wouldn’t be able to read them when they were finally ready to plant. That would be a disaster!
So, here’s what we did instead, for no-cost at all. We took empty containers, such as the kind that hold yogurt, sour cream and the like, and cut them into rectangles to use as DIY plant labels. We love them! They are very easy to read, they stay put in the soil, and they don’t deteriorate from watering. It’s something to feel good about, too right? I mean, it’s repurposing at it’s best
I have to admit, in my urge to clear out clutter, I recently got rid of several used containers that were taking up space in my large container drawer. That made me just a little sad since now I had a use for them, but I’m not urging anyone to become a hoader, here! Don’t hang on to stuff you may never use. Believe me, there are plenty of people who do and they will be more than happy to share there containers with you.
Here’s the simple way I cut my containers. Using a heavy pair of scissors, cut down the length of the container.
Now, remove the bottom with your scissors, being careful of any sharp edges.
Remove the top edge.
I did run out of containers (we have hundreds of plants) and found that some disposable plastic cups work okay and some do not. The Solo-type we had didn’t work well as they had strange indentations and also didn’t take the marker well. I had some plain, soft clear ones though, and they worked. If you are in a pinch and need more labels ASAP, try whatever you have on hand.