growing

Shawna Coronado

Better Gardener: 4 Seed Starting Kits That Work For Your Garden

Seedling Starter Kits at 4 Weeks

Midsummer can be a challenging time for my front lawn ornamental edible vegetable garden (see below). It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s buggy. Plants react in different ways to the summer season depending on their issue; some thrive, others have giant bug holes in them, a few go to seed, and my personal Drama Queen favorite – the veggie sprawls on the ground like a dying opera singer. All these issues can be solved by growing replacement seedlings and replacing the old with the new. Grow seedlings at this time also to build your cold weather vegetables for Fall planting. This season I conducted an experiment to see how seed starting kits worked in the heat of midsummer and here are the results.

Shawna Coronado Front Lawn Vegetable Garden

Seedling kit watering

Growing Seedlings Experiment Conditions:

Each system was planted with Botanical Interests Dwarf Blue Curled Heirloom Kale. I used Organic Mechanics Seed Starting Blend as the starting soil for three of the kits. Once planted and watered the first time (above), I never watered any of the growing systems again. I kept the growing systems outside in semi-shade and did receive some rain throughout the testing. Results are after four weeks of growth from seed to plant. You can see the final growing result in the photo at the top of this post.

Seedling Kit SteadyGROWpro

SteadyGROWPro Seed Starting Kit

Eco-friendly SteadyGROWpro grow medium is used to grow seeds hydroponically, it’s a wonderful solution for producing seedlings for the garden without soil. With the SteadyGROWpro kit  (a smaller sample kit is shown above) I did not add additional organic fertilizer, so you can tell the plants stayed a bit smaller. However, it worked great for me. It is the least expensive of the four seed starting kits and by not growing with soil it saved even more money. A good solution for when you are interested in transplanting plants later or if you are keeping the seedlings in a hydroponic system. One kit of 24 seed spots retails for $8.99.

Seedling Peel Away kit

Peel-Away 4” Pot Kit

Need to transplant your plants? It is no problem with this Peel-Away 4” Pot Kit from Gardener’s Supply made from VELCRO® brand fabric (above). Removing plants without disturbing the roots and minimizing transplant shock is the goal with these 3 innovative pots. Building the containers is easy and each tray uses a reservoir and a wicking capillary mat to water the plants as they need it from the roots; it came with simple instructions. I really liked that you can wash pots and store flat for reuse next season. Comes in red or brown. One kit retails for $24.95.

Seedling Peel Away Kit assembled

Peel-Away 2” Pot Kit

Like it’s big brother kit above, this Peel-Away 2” Pot Kit from Gardener’s Supply made from VELCRO® brand fabric is an easy solution to transplant small seedlings without disturbing their roots. For some reason the seedlings grew better in the 4” fabric pots, rather than in these 2” pots (see top photo). There are 12 foldable growing pots that rest on a reservoir with a wicking capillary mat to water the plants as they need it from the bottom (above). Wash pots and store flat for reuse next season. Comes in red or brown. One kit retails for $24.95.

Seedling APS-24 Growing System

Gardener’s Supply APS-24 Growing System

This 24 seedling growing system (above) is an all-in-one unit that ensures a regular supply of water for the little seedlings. There is an insulated growing tray with greenhouse cover in case the temperatures drop. A capillary mat and reservoir lets seedlings drink water as needed. This system is best used for starting plants that will be transplanted while still small and I found it super-easy to use. Comes in white. One kit retails for $19.95.

Seedling Kits planted up

All the seed starting kits were successful (see top photo) and could easily start different types of plants dependent upon your needs. Whether you are growing your Fall cool-season seedlings or replacements for the front lawn vegetable garden, now is the time to get started on the second round of garden growing.

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


Shawna Coronado

Garden Obsession: How To Use A Garden Cloche

Cloche covering petunia and seashells in garden

Cloche’s have been a mystery to me most of my life; it was a mystery that was half terrarium and half cake cover. When I was a little girl I remember my grandmother having a few bell shaped glass covers she would set out in the garden, but I never knew their proper use until I became a gardener myself. The word “cloche” is French and means “bell”. Garden cloches are used for a number of reasons; from building a terrarium-like container to starting plants to protecting plants from pests to using it as a decorative element in the home or garden. Above you see my little petunia amongst my seashells getting some extra protection from a hungry rabbit with a cloche.

This season I decided to conduct an experiment and see if I could learn how to grow a Tuberous Begonia from bulb by starting the bulb with a cloche cover in a  Terrarium Grow Kit.

How To Grow A Begonia Bulb With a Cloche Cover

Begonia and Cloche Kit1. Plant the bulb in the soil with its rounded side down and hollow side up, covering with one inch of soil. Here (to the right) you see the plant has already started and is displaying a pale pink stem. This particular variety is Begonia ‘Golden Balcony’  although I’m calling him Brad the Begonia, because every begonia needs a name, right?

2. Water well and then cover with the cloche or terrarium until you begin to see stronger leaf growth.

3. Wipe the inside of the cloche if moisture develops on the glass, lifting the cloche if moisture becomes too heavy and causes the plant to rot.

4. When plant is ready to transplant, remove from under the glass and transplant.

Begonia growing in cloche

When using a cloche, the most important concern is moisture. If not watched carefully it can form a high humidity environment where there will be too much moisture inside the bell. If this is the case, simply prop the lid up on one side so air can circulate. Additionally, a cloche can protect against a pest invasion, but if you leave seedlings under a cloche too long without water, it can also become an inhospitable environment for the seedlings. Watch your cloche projects carefully and the cloche becomes a fantastic garden tool to help you grow.

Cloche’s can be used to extend the growing season and protect young plants from frost. Seed starting using a cloche is a great way to protect the in-ground seedlings from being eaten by pests or stepped on by your pet. While cloche’s can be quite decorative and expensive, they typically range in size and price from the low to the high. Cloche’s can be found at your local independent garden center, online, and of course you can make your own cloche by cutting the top off of a clear 2 Liter bottle and turning it upside down.

Happily, my experiment worked. In the photo above you see Brad the Begonia sitting on my desk early in the season growing like the little champ he is. In the bottom photo you see him as he looks today – all handsome and ready for the garden bed.

Cloche grown begonia full size

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received several products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.