Starting Vegetable and Flower Seeds in Big Pots

With attention and lots of watering, the seeds I started in larger pots are doing well.

After caring for my seedlings in eggshell pots for weeks, I decided to start some seeds in big pots. They won’t dry out as quickly and are able to stay outside overnight.

I gathered up pots of all sizes that had been lying around and cleaned them out. for drainage I used yard debris, which was a mix of oak leaves, catkins (those long brown things) and Spanish moss. That mixture was pushed into the bottom of each pot before adding dirt.

I’ve planted basil, dill, cherry tomatoes, marigolds and cosmos. I used freezer tape to label the pots with the date they were planted.

basil and other seedlings in pots

Growing Basil

Basil can be difficult to grow in Florida, or so I’ve heard. I had some basil plants in the garden that lasted a couple of years, but then they died. Basil does self-sow if you let seeds form. I now have two pots of basil.

The basil seedlings became so crowded that I removed some of the plants by cutting them off. You should cut and not pull when thinning so as not to disturb the roots.

I kept the cuttings to use when cooking! So far, everything looks good and I hope to have nice big basil plants to pull from year round.

basil grown from seeds
Basil one month later – end of May

Cosmos and Marigolds

I chose two types of flower packets to grow from seeds. Marigolds are so wonderful for gardens, because they repel certain bugs that could be destructive. They should be dead-headed (pull off the old flowers) and I rip the flower head apart and scatter it among the vegetables. Every gardener probably includes marigolds when planting. I think certain varieties are better than others, but I didn’t have a lot to choose from at the store.

I bought two flowering marigold plants – see the orange one below – and will see what happens with the seeds.

little cosmos flower blooming
Flowering cosmos in a grow box

The cosmos seedlings are looking pretty good. A little purple cosmos flower has bloomed in my grow box. That plant was begun in an eggshell pot.

This is certainly a different looking cosmos from what I am used to growing in New Hampshire. Or maybe the plant needs to mature to grow larger.

Actually, the secret is to plant seeds in real good dirt.

The cosmos in the larger pot is looking nice and blooming regularly

Growing Dill

I always grew dill in my northern garden, but have not had luck growing it here in Florida. I do have a few small seedlings in the grow boxes, and now have dill sprouting in this terra cotta pot.

Because I don’t have much luck growing dill, I have chosen to grow fennel. It is similar in that it also grows tall and feathery and has flowers that attract beneficial bugs. Also the Swallowtail butterfly will leave her eggs on fennel, just like parsley and dill.

Dill seeds sprouting in a pot
Dill seedlings

I needed up putting the dill into the potato garden and planted more dill seeds in a large pot.

Dill plant

Cherry Tomatoes

My cherry tomato seedlings were not doing much at first, but now in May they are large plants. I’ve transplanted them a few times and they have little tomatoes on the vine.

Plants by the end of May

Starting Vegetable Seeds in Eggshells

While using my local, fresh, free range chicken eggs one day, I looked at the beautiful shell color and remembered something. I had read, at one time, about using eggshells as pots to start seedlings for the garden.

The shells were so pretty that I hated to just throw them out, so I began rinsing the broken shells to save.

free range chicken egg colors

Getting Ready to Plant Seeds in Eggshells

Here in central Florida frosts and freezes tend to happen in January and February, if they happen at all. By March the weather seldom gets all that cold, but can be chilly overnight. March is the month to plant in Florida.

However, seeds can be started indoors in February, or sooner, to have little seedlings ready to go into the ground by March. I planted mine in the middle of February.

With my organic bags of dirt – Black Gold by Sungro (Amazon affiliate link)- is what I used, and organic seeds purchased, I filled each eggshell and then stuck seeds down into the soil. Keep the egg cartons to use as the plant tray.

When the weather got nice enough, I put all the cartons outside in the sun for the day. I brought them inside each evening. And checked them often to add water.

Difficulties and Challenges to Eggshell Gardening

Unlike little pots, the eggshells are delicate. One online site said to put a pin hole in the bottom of the shell for drainage. I did not do that because I tried and failed to make a little hole. It is not really necessary as long as you don’t overwater. Also, with a hole in the bottom, the cardboard containers would be wet.

Watering can be challenging. The eggshell pots are very small. They will dry out quickly when outside in the Florida sun. I water the seedlings twice a day, and this is March. Because the pots are so small and I don’t want to overwater and have them sitting in a puddle, I use my pour-over tea pot which has a small thin spout. Alternatively you could use a paper cup or anything that allows you to easily add small amounts of water.

Get the Seedlings Outside During the Day

Each day I put the seedlings – or soil with seeds – outside into the sun. Once the plants begin to grow they will need lots of direct sunlight and also some moving air. When plants grow in slightly windy conditions, it causes the stems to become strong. Or so I’ve heard.

Seedlings growing in eggshells
Seedlings are about a month old

I’m lucky enough to be home all day and can easily do this. Even if the plants can sit in front of a sunny window it will be helpful.

All in all, be ready to spend some time caring for the little pots. You can’t just plant and forget.

Choosing Seeds to Grow in Starter Pots

It is tempting to go overboard when picking out seed packets! I’m picturing the bounty of fresh veggies – arms loaded as I come in from the back yard. Realistically, I certainly don’t have space for many plants and seeds are generally good for one year only.

I love almost all vegetables, but must be picky about which ones I will grow. Fresh herbs are one thing I would use often. My basil and parsley has diminished over the years so I wanted to grow those two things again. I also have had difficulty finding dill plants here in Florida, so I am trying to grow that. Dill and fennel plants have flowers that attract the Swallowtail Butterfly.

Italian flat leaf parsley seedlings
Flat leaf Italian parsley seedlings – lookin good!

Getting to start plants from seeds gives me the chance to learn what’s what in newly sprouted form.

The basil did pretty well, but something did eat some of my basil. I planted as much as I could, filling all the saved eggshells. I knew that some things would do better than others.

Basil seedlings in eggshells
Little basil plants

My yard needs more flowering plants. Some of these eggshells contain marigolds and cosmos. I plan to plant more of those flower seeds in larger containers as well. Flowers don’t have to be planted in the garden – especially when your garden is made up of a few grow boxes. They can be in containers to save on garden space.

Flowering plants in pots can be moved around the yard as needed to keep bad bugs away and hopefully draw in the beneficials.

organic seed packets

Larger seeds such as zucchini and cucumber can go directly into the ground. Let’s face it, I would need a lot more egg shells to get everything started. Also, I don’t know how well transplanting will go. More to come on that!

For now I am keeping up with the shell starters.

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