Spring is right around the corner, and with it we’ve been preparing our garden at camp for the Outdoor Education season. If you’re like us, maybe you’re not quite ready to start planting outside but would like to start some seeds. Never fear! We have fun and easy gardening project that you can complete as a family indoors, while re-using those plastic chicken containers from dinner as a mini-greenhouse.
Greenhouses maintain warm temperatures in the soil and air, which helps your seeds to germinate and grow. They can be kept indoors in a lighted area, but can also be placed outside as long as the temperature is above freezing. The clear cover will allow light in after planting, creating a humid greenhouse environment. Using chicken containers is a great way to re-use plastic rather than recycling, and will save you some money by re-purposing the container. We’ve also found that the lids create a wonderful seal, making it easy to move your plants around without fear of spilling water or soil.
Use these step-by-step instructions to learn a little, get dirty, and have fun. In a few months’ time, your family may be indulging in some tasty, home-grown vegetables.
- 1 plastic chicken container
- 1 packet of seeds
- Potting soil
- Measuring stick
- Seed insert trays (optional)
Gather your materials together. You can choose to fill the bottom of your chicken container with potting soil, or use seed insert trays. We have chosen to use the seed insert trays for an easier clean-up and simpler watering system. You can make a measuring stick to help create the correct seed depth by taking a small plastic stick, and mark lines with a sharpie to indicate 1”, ½”, ¼”, and 1/8”.
It’s time to look at the back of our seed packet. With this project, the most important information will be the seed depth. This will tell us how deep to make the holes before we put the seeds in. Your measuring stick is the perfect tool for the job. Our broccoli seeds need to be planted at ¼” depth, so we make holes in each of our seed insert trays that go up to the second line on our measuring stick.
Shake a few seeds out of the packet and into the palm of your hand. From there, you can carefully place one seed in each of the holes. Put any leftover seeds back into the packet, and use your measuring stick to gently cover each of the seeds with soil.
Place your seed insert trays into the base of the chicken container. For the first watering, pour a little water over each section of soil, and then put about ¼” of water in the bottom of the chicken tray. For all other watering times, you can place the water in the bottom of the tray. It will get to your seeds through capillary action and the humidity buildup of the greenhouse effect.
Place the lid on your chicken container and label your plants. Remember to place labels on the sides of the container, so that light can easily get through the top to your plants. Most seeds will begin to sprout after about a week. Place your container in an area with lots of light and remember to check on it every few days.