Make your own paper seed packets (origami)

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When I posted about my adventures in saving onion seeds I mentioned the desire to purchase some small envelopes to hold the seeds. jimmycrackedcorn promptly responded with a comment scolding me for my lack of cheapness. Which I shamefully have to agree completely and took his advice and decided to make some of my own.

I followed the directions from the ICPS Seed Bank though I did do a little improvising to make the packets a little smaller and I got lazy on my folding so I have provided the cheap/lazy directions below.

Step #1: Start with a sheet of paper and fold down the middle, this will allow two seed packets per sheet of paper:

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Step #2: Use scissors to cut out the individual triangles which will be come your seed packets

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Step #3: Fold one corner one third of the way across the paper

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Step #4: Insert the other corner inside the fold and fold flat

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Step #5: Open top and pour in seeds, add a label, and fold over top

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I like this design since it is easy enough that even I can do it, it naturally has a funnel to pour in/out seeds, and is fairly compact which is good since my pickle jar seed holder in my refrigerator is getting pretty full.

How to collect and save onion seeds from your garden

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Last year I collected cilantro seeds and they were a great success in my garden that this past Spring I made a commitment to myself that I would try to collect more seeds this season.  Though I wanted to get more I was able to collect seeds from my onions, jalapenos, and cilantro.  The jalapeno seeds were pretty easy I set some seeds aside on a paper towel while making some salsa.  After they appeared to be dry I threw them in a brown paper lunch bag.

For the onions once the florets (flower balls you see above) got real ugly and dry and I could see the black seeds emerging I placed them in a paper bag before the birds got to them.  I then put the bag on top of our kitchen cabinets and forgot about them for couple months.  Today I pulled the bag down and confirmed they definitely were dry.  To separate the seeds from the pods I broke apart (which happens easily) and placed the contents into a metal strainer.  I gently broken open any remaining pods and agitate the strainer.  This causes the small black seeds to move to the bottom, allowing the pods to float to the top and forcing many of the stems to fall through.

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I then skimmed off as many of the stems/pods as possible leaving and putting the seeds into a brown paper bag until I can get into town to buy some more manageably sized brown envelopes (recovering from Seattle snowstorm)

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After a few minutes of work I now have hundreds of onions seeds which I probably only have use for couple dozen.  Seed exchange anyone?

Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers for seed starting/hydroponics

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Many times I see some packaging and eventually get an idea how I can reuse it with some minor modifications for starting seeds or some other purpose in the garden. I had one of these moment as soon as I opened my Healthy Choice General Tso’s Spicy Chicken Café Steamer   In case anyone is wondering what the purpose of this new packaging is, I could try to explain it but I will allow their marketing department do it for me:

“Our innovative product line utilizes a new and unique microwave Steam Cookerâ„¢–so you can lock in all the naturally fresh flavors of restaurant-inspired meals by steaming them yourself. With new Healthy Choice Café Steamers, vegetables stay bright and crisp, meat and seafood are juicy and tender, rice is moist and fluffy, and pasta is firm.”

After being delighted in the science of their frozen food steaming technology, I discovered I could easily repurpose the packaging completely as-is.

My first initial thought was to use this for starting seeds since it is the perfect size and depth for seeds starts before requiring their first transplant. As an added bonus they already have great drainage holes and even a reservoir in case of excess watering or allowing for wicking if I am going to be away from my seedlings a couple days.

My second thought was hydroponics, which is the process of growing vegetables without using soil. The basic idea is the plant gets all it needs from the nutrient solution which is applied always keeping the roots wet in the preferred growing medium. By adding a growing medium such as coconut fiber or Rockwool, adding some nutrient solution and an air bubbler to the bottom portion of this tray you have a cheap hydroponic system.  It is even big enough to support at least three small plants.

With either option the removal tray is also easily removable incase of overwatering or to change nutrient solution with very little disturbance to the plant(s).

One other benefit use is actually consuming the contents (preferable before used for gardening) which I did try and though the packaging has some interesting uses after you eat it, the meal tastes just about as bad as any other TV dinner I have eaten.