Affordable Gardening

Affordable Garden Update: Planting Seeds

Have the desire to grow a garden, but don’t have the space or a large budget? Follow along with Captain Create this Summer to learn money saving gardening tips. At the end of the harvest, we will learn to cook healthy meals with what grew!

Selecting Seeds

Gardening is a great way to learn about how our food is produced, and it increases the availability of healthy food options in our homes! The first step to this adventure is selecting and planting seeds.

Money saving tip: Select seeds of herbs, vegetables, and fruit that you will realistically eat. For example, if you passionately hate eating broccoli, growing your own broccoli may not be the best investment in your time or money.

Here is what I chose based on my taste preferences:

  • Mint
  • Sage
  • Swiss Chard
  • Bell Pepper
  • Tomatillo
  • Thyme
  • Cucamelon
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Oakleaf Lettuce

Finding Affordable Seeds In Utah

I went on the hunt to search for affordable seeds in Utah, and I was amazed by what I found.

The Salt Lake City Public Library System has a seed lending program! This means that you can sign up to receive specific types of seeds from the library (while supplies last), grow those seeds into produce, harvest the seeds from your produce, and bring back your seeds to the library!

I wanted to give this program a try, and from my experience it was an easy process! To get your free seeds, visit Salt Lake City Public Library System’s website to select and order seeds. Seriously, check it out, it’s worth your time! I got cucamelon, lettuce and cilantro seeds from the Seed Library.

Another way to find seeds for free is to harvest seeds from produce that you already have! This method does result in free seeds, but harvesting seeds from grocery store produce does have it’s challenges, the main one being that the seeds aren’t as viable as buying seeds from a packet.

If you want to challenge yourself and try to grow seeds from grocery store or farmers market produce, dried beans and peas would be an easy start. There are other vegetable varieties such as green onion and sweet potato that you can grow from cuttings, to learn more visit’s website.

Money Saving Tip: Get free seeds from local seed library programs, or harvest your own seeds from produce bought at farmers markets or grocery stores.

To Soak Or Not To Soak…

Some seeds need a little extra help before planting them. Seeds develop a coat that protects their embryo, which is great in theory, but hearty seed coats can make it more difficult for gardeners to successful germinate seeds.

Soaking seeds in water 12-24 hours before planting can increase the percentage of successful germination. As a general rule, larger seeds tend to benefit more from a pre-soak than smaller seeds. To learn more about soaking seeds, I found this from McGregor’s Garden Genius to be beneficial.

Soaking my larger seeds, some of the seeds turned the water yellow…

Money Saving Tip: To increase the chances of your larger seeds germinating successfully, give them a 12 to 24 hour pre-soak in water.

Planting… Finally

After all this research, gathering and soaking I’m sure your ready to finally plant your seeds – so was I. Choosing a container to put dirt and seeds in turned out to be more challenging than I thought.

My first attempt was to use old egg cartons, and to be fair it was a good money saving idea, until the mold came…

Look at my moldy Swiss chard

See all that white fuzzy stuff? Yeah, that’s mold surrounding my beautiful Swiss chard. I think this attempt failed because I used cardboard egg containers which retained excess water and weren’t sterile. On top of that, I put these containers in gallon freezer bags to create a greenhouse effect, which turned into an epic way to grow mold. Needless to say I had to throw away this gardening attempt.

I knew attempt number two had to be in a container that wouldn’t soak in water and could be easily monitored, unlike sealing cardboard egg containers in gallon bags. I came up with using a lid to a large plastic storage bin to plant my seeds in.

Attempt #2 with a storage container lid

The container lid that I chose is about an inch and a half deep, which I filled with potting soil and a few cups of composted steer manure that I found at my local hardware store. I used small popsicle sticks to mark the seed rows, and used aluminum foil to retain water moisture and cover the seeds from the sun. Many seeds like to germinate in the dark, so it’s a good idea to cover them up for the first week.

To plant your seeds successfully, my best advice is to follow instructions on your seed packet, or plant them at a depth where dirt is just barley covering them. Smaller seeds usually are planted at a depth of 1/8th to a 1/4th an inch, while larger seeds are generally planted a 1/4th to 1/2 inch deep.

I try to keep my seeds in moist soil. Not soaking wet and not dry, moist.

Money Saving Tip: Use common household objects to plant your seeds in, such as a large storage container lid.

Next Week

Next week I will share how to create an affordable container garden when you have limited space! Come back next Friday for that content, but till then enjoy planting your seeds!

– Captain Create

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