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Stories and green tips related to nature, adventure, placemaking, and food systems, written by a beginning farmer/gardener and seasoned sustainability educator who loves to grow, cook, ferment, and eat local and ecologically happy food.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

In the Garden: Aloe vera re-potting and Repurposed seedling containers

Yesterday, I was able to complete two quick garden projects. I re-potted an aloe plant, separating two baby offshoots of the aloe into their own pots, and I finished that project event before it was time to hop on my computer to work from home for the day. The other project--planting cucumber seeds--I did mid-day as a break from work, and it only took me about 15 minutes. Take a look, and remember that if you click on the images, they will open up in a larger view:

The white pot with aloe in it was sitting in our backyard when we moved into this house. It didn't look too great then, and it still doesn't look as healthy as it maybe should, but I was able to help it look a little less sad. It's been on our front porch for months, and I water it less than weekly.

I recently learned online that you can separate the "babies" that sprout from the parent plant and repot them. So this morning before I even made coffee, I followed instructions online, such as these, and repotted the babies into their own pots.
First, you pour the whole plant out, and separate the babies. They were loosely attached to the larger plant, so I just snapped them off easily.
I put the parent plant into a larger pot, and I put one of the babies back into the white pot. I should really be using more sandy soil that's designed for plants like aloe, but I bought a huge bag of organic potting soil at the beginning of my gardening adventures, and it's been my go-to resource. If this experiment fails, I will try with some more sandy soil next time.
The other baby aloe got its own re-purposed spaghetti sauce jar, which I'm a little cautious about because my last succulent in a jar turned moldy. I will have to be careful not to over water it. I put some of my polished rock collection on the bottom to help avoid mold and because the rocks are colorful. We'll see what happens!
The other project that I did mid-day was to plant some cucumber seeds in egg shells and used paper towel rolls. I want the seeds to sprout and grow a bit indoors before I plant them outside, and I had read about both the egg shell and paper towel roll methods online. The concept is that you can plant the egg shell and paper towel rolls right into the soil because they biodegrade/break down. It helps reduce trauma to the plant's roots when you transplant outside.
I have been collecting and drying used egg shells for use as fertilizer, for this seedling purpose, and to feed my red wriggler composting worms, which should arrive next week! I used a sharp knife to poke a hole in an egg shell, which I had hand picked from my saved ones to find a deep enough cup. This poking part was a bit challenging, but the egg withstood the punching through of the knife tip without cracking anywhere else.
I filled the bottom with potting soil, and then put three cucumber seeds inside. I filled it the rest of the way with more soil. I did this with one other egg shell, as well. Because I didn't have an egg carton on hand (we have a reusable egg holder in our fridge that we put eggs in each week), I had to be creative with how I'd get the egg shells to stand upright. I took an old olive can and and old minced garlic jar, filled them with dirt from the yard, and set the egg shells in the middle. We began saving almost all of our jars and cans when we moved here, and they come in handy so often!
I took fewer step-by-step photos with the paper towel roll method because it's well documented online, such as here. I ended up only needing to use one of my saved paper towel rolls because you can cut them in half. I put the two little paper towel roll pots into one cleaned out Silk brand soy yogurt container, which was just wide enough to hold them both.
Here's my collection of indoor seedlings and propagation experiments. From left to right: broccoli, egg shell cucumber seeds, water-only green onions, another egg shell cucumber, the two paper towel roll cucumber seeds, and two old, painted soup cans with nasturtium seeds. It's so delightful to see them there, growing in the sun each day!

What projects and experiments have you been trying lately? Any you recommend?

Thanks for reading!
Green Gal

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