The easiest way to grow your own seedlings is with a Styrofoam seedling propagation box. This page explains how to do this.
- STYROFOAM VEGETABLE BOX
In Australia these can usually be obtained from supermarkets and greengrocers for nothing, though they are getting harder to find as some of the larger supermarket chains are now mainly using reusable plastic lined boxes.
- SHEETS OF NEWSPAPER
- COMPOST OR GOOD QUALITY SOIL
- POTTING OR SEED RAISING MIX
You will only need a small amount.
- SHEET OF 3 mm GLASS, APPROXIMATELY 48 x 35 CM
This is to cover the top of the Styrofoam box, it is used in cool weather to protect the seedlings from the elements and warm up the soil.
- Cover the bottom of the box with three or four sheets of newspaper, making sure that all the holes in the bottom are covered. As the holes are quite large much of the soil will fall through if you do not cover them.
- Fill the bottom 2/3 thirds of the box with well-rotted compost or good quality garden soil. You can add some sheep or cow manure if you like.
- Cover the top with 2 cm of commercial seed raising or potting mix, leaving about 5 to 6 cm clear from the seed raising mix to the top of the box.
I have used both seed raising and potting mix with success. Alternatively, you can make your own seed raising mix.
- With the edge of your hand press five or six furrows across the top of the seedling/potting mix.
I usually use five and make the first furrow in the centre, which makes it easier to space them evenly. The furrows should be around one centimetre deep.
Sprinkle the seeds you want to plant along the furrows then with your thumb and forefinger pinch the seedling mix back across the rows. Alternatively, you can simply fill the rows with more seed raising/potting mix.
Finally label the seeds so you know what you have planted and lightly water them in. In cooler weather cover with a sheet of cut glass, otherwise just leave the top uncovered.
As a Styrofoam boxes are quite large when fully planted out they can produce a lot of seedlings, so it’s best to plant two or three rows at a time. That way the seedlings will be staggered over a period of weeks.
Cutaway illustration of a Styrofoam seedling propagation box.