Spring is right around the corner, folks! If you are like me, the sunshine and warmer days might bring you bursts of energy and joy, too. Plus, knowing that the first official day of Spring is only a week away makes this shift of seasons that more exciting. In my family, with Springtime comes planting. The boys (Ben and Jacob) are putting a lot of hours and work into prepping and gearing up for planting time. Ellyn’s also been out cleaning tractors! While I’m here to support them however I can, this year I’m going to do my own version of “spring planting” with Milk Jug Sowing.
Since moving out to our farm a couple of years ago, I have really taken an interest in gardening. I’ve mostly planted vegetables – some from seed and some already a plant seedling. This year my goal is to have all seedlings of my own thanks to a small-scale greenhouse method using a clear milk jug. Thank goodness my family are big milk-drinkers because we have so many jugs saved up that my main expense will be the cost of seeds and some potting soil!
When considering milk jug sowing, I had to take in account the zone that I live in. Our location in Minnesota is a Zone 4, meaning that I planned to wait until mid-March (when the temps don’t dip below zero as frequently) to place my prepared jugs outside. Placing the jug outside with the cover off would save me so much time as I won’t have to water them like I would if they were in my house AND I don’t have to keep light on them during the day… The jug will already capture the sunlight and precipitation outside, while keeping the seed safe. I know that many people have success with starting their plants inside by watering and keeping a light on them. Kudos to all of you because I know that takes a lot of time! With two littles, farming and a full-time teaching job I wanted something simple with very little effort on my end.
Below I’m going to breakdown step-by-step directions on how you can do this yourself, too! I should note again that this is my first year of doing this, so I’m not an expert, but I have done my fair-share of research and connecting with people who have done this for many years. So, save some milk jugs and follow along in this journey WITH ME!
Step 1: Cut open your jugs (be careful!) to keep the top part attached. I used a utility knife to cut the jugs open. I left about an inch connected by the handle for easy opening and filling.
Step 2: Pack the bottom portion of the jug with moistened potting mix for seed starting. You don’t want it to be slopping wet, but too dry isn’t good either. I had some helpers with me today. They especially loved mixing the soil and water together. Savannah said, “This is the best day!” because she got to play with mud. And Bryce thought he was pretty cool running the water hydrant for us! Oh, they’re so easily amused at this age 🙂
Step 3: Plant your seeds! Make sure that you pay attention to the suggested depth for each variety. I didn’t worry so much about spacing as we are going to transplant when they grow.
Step 4: Seal your jugs with duct tape. Sometimes it’s nice to have an extra set of hands for this step. Thankfully, Savannah was ready and waiting. She held the top and bottom of the jug together while I taped it. We then high-fived while she cheered, “teamwork!” I can’t make up just how genuine this girl is!
Step 5: We made sure to take the cap off. This ensures that when it snows or rains, the jugs can capture some precipitation. We placed them in a safe spot where critters (we have a lot of deer around) and wind won’t be much of a problem and where they will get plenty of sunshine! If your seeds sprout and the temps are going to dip below freezing, make sure to cover your milk jugs as they’ll be susceptible to frost.
Step 6: We wait.
(Yes, I know we have the covers on. 😉 We removed them right after their photo op!)
We have about 15-20 jugs sitting in our basement ready to be planted. For today, we just planted a few seed packets that I had on hand from what the kids picked out. Our next set of jugs will be all vegetables.
What I love most about this project is that it can so effortlessly involve my kiddos. Give it a try at home and tag me on instagram @jess.flygare! Don’t forget to subscribe to be the first to see our latest posts and updates to projects we are working on.
Rooted in ag & led by faith,