Build a simple Mini-hothouse

I always start certain seeds early. It helps me to produce more plants and crops in my cooler zone 5 climate. tomato seedlings potted
Creative Commons License photo credit: ricoeurian

If you don’t have room for a greenhouse or just want to start a few plants you can make a mini-hothouse by using a plastic tub. It’s reasonably priced and easy to move around.

I would use a plastic tub about two-foot by three foot. Clean the tub thoroughly with soap and water. You want to make sure the tub is totally disinfected so rinse it with a bleach solution of one-tablespoon bleach to one-cup water. Allow the tub to dry completely.

Prepare your pots.

Regular clay or plastic pots.
Make sure the pots are disinfected and completely dry. Place pebbles on the entire bottom of the plastic tub. You will want two to three inches or pebbles. These will keep any extra water away from the pots and help with humidity in the tub. Fill the pots with potting soil and let the extra water drip out. Place on top of the pebbles and make sure they are nestled into the pebbles so that they will not tip over. Place two seeds in each pot and top with a thin layer of soil.

Peat pots
Fill the peat pots three-fourths full with potting soil. Place the pots in the tub in a single layer. Place one or two seeds in each peat pot and cover with a thin layer of potting soil. Water each pot until the pots are damp to the touch.

Jiffy pots
Place the Jiffy pots on the bottom of the tub in a single layer and add boiling water until the pots expand. Place one seed in the center hole of each pot. Top with a sprinkling of potting soil. With Jiffy pots I often use Chamomile tea to water with. It’s a natural disinfectant and will prevent mold from forming.

Next cover the top of the tub with plastic wrap. Make sure there are no open spaces. Using the plastic you are creating a mini hothouse that will keep moisture in and supply a humid climate that will speed up your seed germination.

Place the tub in a warm, sunny location that is close but out of the way so you are not moving it all the time. Wait for the seedlings to sprout. I find it usually takes five to seven days before I start to see the seedlings popping out of the soil. Water as necessary to keep the soil damp but make sure you do not over water. Soggy soil means the soil is too wet and that leads to moldy soil and damp-off problems.

It’s time to remove the plastic wrap when the seedlings have reached two inches in height and have formed their secondary leaves.

This tub mini-hothouse will produce quite a few plants for your garden and house. It will save you money and time and can be used for several years.

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