Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Getting ready for the garden

This may seem a bit strange to see a post that isn't readily apparent in its ability to fit with the "r" words we're focusing on this month, but I assure you, it it relevant.

We're going to REPURPOSE some old flour given me by my friend Sally.  Once flour sits for several years, I don't like to use it in the kitchen.  So today I'll show you one way you can use it without throwing it out.  And of course, no one wants flour going down the drain.  It doesn't do too well in the compost pile, either.

So here are the supplies you will need for this project.  From back left clockwise:
Clean plastic zipper bags, bags recycled from purchased craft projects (alternately, you can use an airtight tin, or even a round paper cheese container)
New seeds in packages (alternately, you can use heirloom seeds that you wish to save from year to year)
Paper towels (mine are Viva)
Pallet knife used as spoon and stirrer
Permanent marker (mine is a Sharpie)
Small container filled 3/4 of way with cold tap water

Begin by designating that this flour is NOT for human consumption, but for crafts only.  It only takes a minute and you will be happy you took this step.  Alternately, you can use those stick-on labels, but you'll have to write on them too, so writing directly on your container eliminates an added step.

As an aside, I know I've said this before, but please, please, never mix food or kitchen supplies with craft supplies.  Thrift stores are filled with inexpensive tools you can use in your craft room or studio.  Keeping craft supplies separate is just a good habit to get into.

Make a paste of flour and water.  I can't tell you how much of each to use, because I am not measuring.  I just know when it gets thick and stands on its own.

Cut one sheet of paper towel into several strips.  You can also use newsprint, but no newspapers, because the ink may not be suitable for humans.

It looks like I'm going to need a lot of these towels.

Begin by taking some of the seeds from the package.  I decided to start with cilantro because these seeds are much larger than basil seeds, the other packages I'll be dealing with today.

Place dollops of flour on the paper towel, following the approximate spacing recommended on the seed package.  Place one seed on each dollop of flour.

Once all the seeds are in place, fold the paper towel over.  Set aside to dry.

Keep adding seeds until you have used all in the package.  Set the empty package and your container of choice aside.  Allow the flour to completely dry.  This can take up to two days in cold or wet weather.

When the flour is finally dry, you will know, because it turns medium to dark beige and you can see the change in color, even through a heavy towel like Viva.

Roll or fold your strips to fit the size of your container.  When finished be sure the empty seed packet is also in the container.  For demonstration purposes, I left the seed packet in the container and added a couple of folded seed strips.  However, I suggest you add the empty seed packet last.  Seal the container to keep moisture out.  You can keep these seeds in your refrigerator or basement, but if you live in an area that experiences freezing temperatures, do not leave them in an unheated garage or outdoor storage building.

Now I'm off to find my tweezers.  Basil seeds are very small, so I will need them when I place the seeds on the flour.  This is also a great way to ensure even placement of seeds.  I've always done "scatter seeding" before, and oftentimes realized the seeds "scattered" to one area, leaving other areas bare.  This removes that problem because I will plant the entire strip, paper towel (or kitchen towel for my British friends) included.

Today is Day 17 and we repurposed old flour and recycled zip type bags.  We might even have recycled a few heirloom seeds, too.

12 thoughtful remarks:

Halle said...

I've never made seed tapes although I have thought about it esp for my dad's radish carrot row idea. He'd plant radish, carrot, radish, carrot and so forth. The idea being that the radishes would be done first and therefore leave to proper spacing for carrots without having and entire row empty by mid-summer.

Rebeca Trevino said...

excellent idea, and oh so timely, my husband and i are working our vegetable beds this week end, and we will plant soon.
wish us luck!

see you there! said...

I'm not the gardener at out house but I'll pass the idea on to the one who is.

Another great "R" idea.


Jill Cooper said...

How cool - who would have thought! I was out planting the other day and was going to sprinkle some seeds out of a packet. Nothing was coming out and suddenly I realized I had sprinkled them all into one spot LOLOLOL This is a much better idea!

Craftymoose Crafts said...

This would certainly solve my problem of planting in clumps! Great hint.

Anonymous said...

Great idea for your own seed strips!!!! Marvelous use of old craft flour to make flowers! Pun intended. xox

Dandelion and Daisy said...

That is really a good idea. I know they retail seed strips but I've not thought of making my own. I'll remember that idea. Thanks.

Dianne said...

this is a new technique to me...terrific use of materials. and it will probably save some frustration at planting time!

TwinkleToes2day said...

Such a brilliant idea!! I'm going to use this and also send the link to my friends whom I know garden. Thank you Elizabeth! :0) Mo

Kim Andersen said...

what an awesome idea!
my daughter's 4H club would really have fun with these (me too)

~*~Patty S said...

Very innovative and useful idea E!
I have to confess other than flowers I just grow herbs and usually pick up a few small plants ... guess you could call me an impatient gardener who doesn't have enough blank space for planting seeds LOL

TwinkleToes2day said...

What a fabulous idea! And a great activity to share with kiddos too :D