How to Sprout Your Own Garden Starts

Gardening on the balconyOne of the best ways to ensure good food — and save money in the bargain — is to grow a garden. My parents always had a garden when I was growing up, and my husband and I regularly planted a garden when we had a house.

While you can buy young plants to transplant into your garden, it can be more cost-efficient (and rewarding) to sprout your own garden sprouts. If you want to get a head start on your garden, you can sprout plants indoors, where they are safe from the cold weather, and move them outside to your garden later.

Here’s how to get started:

Identify an Area with the Right Lighting

First of all, make sure you have room for your sprouts. Choose an area with the right lighting. Different plants have different needs, so make sure that you have a plan to keep sprouts with similar needs together.

A sunny window is usually a good option when it comes to your garden sprouts. Make sure you have enough room for the seeds you want to sprout. You can prioritize based on space.

Prepare the Containers

Next, you need containers to sprout the seeds. The good news is that, in many cases, you don’t need anything very big. For the beginning seeds, a small container that is one or two inches deep is usually fine. Egg cartons work really well. However, you can also buy “market packs” that include rows of small containers.

Think about how big your plants will get before you move them outside. The fewer times you need to move your plants, the better off they will be. If you know you will transplant your seedlings before they outgrow the smaller containers, that isn’t a problem. Another option is to plant your seedlings in bigger pots. This gives them more room for growth and root spreading before you move them to your garden.

Containers should contain soil that is dry and free of toxins. The good news is that you don’t need to go to great trouble to get nutrient-rich soil, since the seeds contain the nutrients needed for sprouting. However, you can grow your seedlings stronger if you mix your soil with perlite, compost, or peat moss. Just make sure you mix carefully so that you don’t end up with a mix that isn’t ideal for the seedling involved.

There are some seeds that will sprout without soil at all. For these, normally a damp paper towel is enough. Keep the paper towel damp and in the proper light. After the seed sprouts, you can transplant it in a pot for further growth and root development before moving it outside to your garden.

Plant the Seeds

When planting the seeds, make a small hole. You should only cover the seeds with enough dirt to be about three times its height. Some seeds don’t need to be properly covered with dirt at all. Check the seed packet for more specific instructions related to your seeds.

For the most part, you should just loosely cover the seeds with dirt. Don’t pack the dirt down. You can moisten the soil by using a spray bottle to mist the water. One of the keys to successful seed sprouting is to keep the soil moist, but not over-watered.

Find out whether or not the seeds need light to sprout. You can sometimes stack seed flats until the sprout if the seeds don’t need a lot of light. Continue to watch the seedlings. There will be a time to thin them out so that the seedlings that remain can grow stronger. You don’t want to keep all the sprouts, though, since you want the strongest for your garden.

Moving Your Plants to the Garden

Once your seedlings are strong enough, and the weather is favorable, you can move your plants to the garden. Make sure your garden plot is properly prepared and ready to receive the plants. Keep an eye on the weather, since you might want to wait a little longer, or be prepared to cover your plants, if the nights are still too cold.

Sprouting your own seedlings can be a cost-efficient way to get the starts needed for your garden. These plants are often stronger and hardier, and it can give you a good way to get your garden started without risk your plants to frost.

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Three Home Appliances that can Shrink your Electric Bill

The Drying Machine [EXPLORED]Electric bills are like opinions. Everybody has one, and not all of them are good. If you’re electric bill has skyrocketed these past few months, you may want to check your consumption and see if one of your appliances is out of whack, or maybe one member of your household sleeps with the lights and TV on.

In any event, your job as a consumer and earth defender is to lower your carbon footprint. To do this, you must be vigilant about your current crop of appliances and the ones you are currently in the market for if a replacement is in order. Usually, older models are less energy efficient when compared to the newer models, so it’s always a good idea to periodically upgrade your gear rather than call an appliance repair service to have it running again.

EnerGuide and Energy Star

Before we go to our top 3, let’s briefly touch on how EnerGuide and Energy Star can help you with your next purchase.

According to National Resources Canada, the EnerGuide Label must be placed by law on any new appliance manufactured in or imported to Canada. This label compares a product’s energy performance against others in its class. It helps Canadians save energy, reduce the impact on the environment and lower utility bills.

The Energy Star Symbol indicates that a product meets or exceeds high efficiency standards. So, if you’re in upgrade mode, here are the top 3 home appliances you should consider replacing to reduce your carbon footprint and make your home more eco-friendly. Choose the right one, and lower your monthly consumption for good.

The Electric Clothes Dryer

Electric Dryers are the largest power consumer in the home, typically consuming 946 kilowatt hours per year in a 2006 study by the government of Canada. Now this study may be old, but the message is still loud and clear: dryers consume a lot of juice. So, when choosing your next dryer, consider the newer models that use inverter technology or you can give natural gas dryers a chance.

The new models use inverter technology to power the heater, making these models super efficient. Natural gas dryers are also environmentally sound choices, but you’d have to pay for the initial installation costs. Always check the EnerGuide label to make an informed decision.

The Refrigerator

Our iceboxes are the 3rd largest power consumer among household appliances, consuming an average of about 694 kWh a year. As one of the few appliances that are ON for the whole year, getting an uber energy efficient refrigerator is a must for any household.

By far, the best ones in the market are the ones that use inverter technology. I can’t stress the importance of inverter tech. I have appliances that have inverter motors and my electric bill has been shrinking ever since. The premise here is these appliances cost more than the conventional ones, but they pay for themselves in a year or two because your consumption will be less, shrinking your electric bill in the process. Again, check the EnerGuide label for more details.

The Dishwasher

One of the most used appliances in any home, the dishwasher comes in at number three on our list of appliances that can shrink your monthly electric bill when you choose an energy efficient model. According to the NRC, dishwashers are the 5th most power hungry appliance in the home, because heating the water alone takes a whopping 80% of the power used to operate a dishwasher.

When choosing your next dishwasher, consider the heating element and the decibel rating. Also check if it’s rated by Energy Star. Troll the forums to see which ones are costly to maintain and which ones last for a long time. Some models also use twice the amount of water as compared to other models, so read the EnerGuide label and choose wisely.

The End

There you have it, 3 home appliances you should consider replacing if you feel they’re not performing as they should and if they’re guzzling power like a hungry hippo. There’s also a new study in the US that states the DVR and the cable TV box are among the top power consumers (2nd place) in the household because they’re always on. But let’s save that topic for next time.


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