Scarifying a seed shell

To scarify means to scratch or etch the surface of a seed coat before sowing it. Some seed coats are very tough and benefit from a little help before they are planted. Sweet Peas, or in my case Morning Glory, need a little roughing up before they hit the dirt.

I use a small file and run a few scratches across the coat, just deep enough to knick the shell but not so deep as to damage the seed itself. A good soaking in water for a few hours helps penetrate the seed coat and the seeds are ready to be sown.

Planting in Egg Cartons

This year I decided to try a new technique for planting my lettuces and other leafy greens: egg cartons.

I filled a supply of paper egg cartons with sterile gardening soil and planted 2 to 3 seeds in each of the twelve cups. My theory is that as the plants establish themselves they should be able to break through the paper carton and ultimately grow as any other plant would in the garden.

Why bother? Well, it sure was pleasant to sit at my table in the sun planting the seeds rather than crouched over the dirt trying to sow a straight row. As I filled a carton or two, I’d walk them over to my garden bed and immerse them in the soil. A little water and they were good to go.

This technique also gave me control over the quality of the soil that they were started in. I used a Miracle Grow container soil with a small amount of 5-5-5 fertilizer.

Within a week I had signs of spinach and lettuce in the egg cartons, and in another week I’ll thin them out to give them plenty of room to grow.

Only time will tell if this technique will produce healthy plants, so watch for an update later in the summer.