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Goodwill is a great gardening supply store

By Penny Stine

I have said it before and I’ll say it again. I am frugal. Some would say I’m cheap, but frugal sounds nicer.

I start quite a few plants indoors in the early spring to save money and to create greater variety in my garden. You just can’t find Cajun Belle peppers or Aunt Ginny’s purple tomatoes at the local nurseries.

A friend and I split the cost of the seeds. Because she moved into a smaller house and has nowhere to start seeds and nowhere to put her awesomely wonderful plant shelves, she gave them to me so I could start seeds for both of us.

And boy, have I started a lot of seeds. I’ve also learned that when you start seeds indoors, serving trays are a must-have gardening implement. Not only do they help with crop rotation (i.e., giving each tray a day in the prime sunshine location) but they also help when it comes time to transition the plants to outdoor life. It’s much easier to carry 10 trays of plants outside every morning than 115 baby plants.



I’ve discovered that Goodwill is a great place to pick up spare serving trays. They may be delightfully tacky, but who cares? I use them in early spring, then stack ‘em and store ‘em until I need them again the following year. Ones like the one in this picture work well because you can pour water into the tray and water from the bottom, just like the seed packet advises. 


Some people buy the bio-dome systems for starting plants. My frugal nature made me try using plastic wrap. It works. Once the plants sprout and have their first two little leaves, I remove the plastic wrap and make them fend for themselves.

Otherwise, it’s easy to inadvertently tear off a leaf when lifting the plastic wrap to water (or to just peek to see if anything’s sprouting.)
Because I keep my house so stinkin’ cold (see frugal nature, above), I’ve learned that I’ve got to give plants a couple of weeks longer than what the seed packets say in order for them to get big enough to transplant.

The Chitzen Itza, Flavorburst and Big Jim hybrid peppers are looking good, as are the lavender and basil plants. Hopefully, I won’t kill anything before it gets planted outside. 


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