Here is another gardening project that can be done in the winter. It’s January in Chicago, at least 2 to 3 months until we can think about getting annuals into the garden, depending on the weather. So let’s take matters into our own hands and get some plants started. Let’s make mini greenhouses to get seeds started outside as early as possible. All we need is a milk carton, soil, seeds, and duct tape. Oh and we’ll need something to poke holes and cut the carton.
Cut the milk cartoon open on three sides to create a hinged top. Make the cut at about the halfway (or higher) mark on the carton. Poke some holes in the bottom for drainage. Fill the bottom with moist soil. Sow the seeds in the the soil. I set up all the milk cartons first, seeds and all, then sealed them up.
Put them in a sunny spot with the caps off. This will allow for watering and circulation. As soon as it gets warm enough the seeds should germinate. I put a lot of seeds in each carton so I may need to thin the crop.
Once the plants are large enough to transplant to pots or beds remove the tape and open them up, leaving the plants in. This will harden off the plants, or acclimate them to the outside temperature and sun exposure. After a week or two you can put them wherever you want.
I chose cool weather plants in the hopes of benefiting from them as early as mid spring. I will set up another round of greenhouses in the spring with summer plants that will hopefully be ready to go into the ground after any risk of frost.
If this project is fruitful I will have two kinds of Osteospermum daisies, a purple and a copper color, red Gerbera daisies, snapdragons in multiple colors, and a beautiful Nemesia.
If anyone has any winter projects to share please do, we love comments and suggestions.