DIY: Celebrate Earth day by sprouting your own seeds

Around this time of the year, kids get to learn a lot about recycling, planting and trash clean up in celebration of Earth day. I think it’s important to let them know we must do these things all year around and Earth should be celebrated every day.

So, it doesn’t matter if you do this project on Earth day, this week or next month as long

as your kids experience the joys and wonders of watching their own seedlings emerge. Plus, they’ll get a little lesson on recycling and composting on top of it all!

You will need:

* An empty egg carton (the

molded pulp

ones, not plastic or


* Potting soil

* Seeds

* Plastic wrap or bag

* Pen or pecil

* Tooth picks and paper to make labels

Tip: to make the germination process a breeze, pick seeds that germinate easily such as beans, pees, carrots, squash, cucumber and pumpkins. Hard to start seeds might not even sprout and you’ll end up having a frustrated kid!

Get started:

1. Separate the bottom part from the lid of the egg carton. Take the bottom part and poke holes in each cell using the tip of a pen or pencil.

Those will be the drainage holes. Place the lid of the egg carton under the bottom part, nesting one under the other. Now you have your seedling tray.

2. Place small amounts of soil in each cell and plant the seeds making sure the seeds are lightly covered by soil (follow package directions)

3. Water each cell. Be mindful not to over water the seeds, a spray bottle comes in handy.

4. Use tooth picks and paper to make labels.

You can also use rocks or clothes pins to label the seeds.

5. Cover your tray with plastic wrap or a bag to create greenhouse conditions.

6. Place the tray by the window and watch your seeds grow! Keep soil watered and remove the plastic wrap when the first leaves appear.

7. When your plants have more than two leaves, separate each cell and plant it directly into the ground (or pot). The pulp that the egg carton is made of will decompose and become



Doing this project is a great way to teach kids about the importance of planting and re-planting, recycling and composting. Explain to them why we should plant trees, how you are recycling the egg carton and how it becomes plant food. Let them have fun while you guide them.

Make a photo journal, they’ll enjoy comparing the growth of the plants and making observations later on.

 I know I did when I was little and now I pass the experience on to my kids.

Natasha K.


Morning Glories

I love these early morning moments when moon flowers say good-bye and morning glories greet the day. As an urban gardener I can provide my charges with only very condensed space; however, their lack of abundance, highlights their singular beauty even more. Here are some examples of how I  created an intimate space in a garden the size of a postage stamp.
After our move, we no longer needed this baker's rack in the kitchen, so it found a new home outside. I outfitted it with some odds and ends from the Salvation Army store such as a cake pan that furnished a new home to the strawberry dianthus and a statue of the Virgin Mary in the hope she'd bless this undertaking. New seedlings are stored on the lower shelves.
The basked on the side used to house my cutting boards. After I lined it with sphagnum moss it be came the perfect spot for some bright red geraniums. Now, can you spot the turtle on the upper shelf?
I have no idea, why we packed this ancient bathroom toy, but I'm glad we did because it is now the perfect "pot" for some baby succulents.
Gallon paint cans make great flower pots. You can even hang them from their handles if you wish. I like the junkyard feel of the just about to bloom four-o-clocks against the rusty patina of the paint can.
Another example of the many uses of the sushi mat. Here it holds up some overly energetic zinnias. Like this one:

I hope you enjoyed the tour.


NYC Rooftop Gardening

Every summer I dream of getting out of the city heat for a few months to some nice summer home upstate. That dream hasn't come true yet, but I've found a way to bring a little bit of that summer back home to the city.

My garden is my refuge, my happy place, my growing place. It's amazing what a few plants will do to your outlook. They've lived on my fire escape and window sills before I graduated to the rooftop.

A few tips

I love the book The City Gardener's Handbook. It's written by a New Yorker, and I swear for New Yorkers, though I think anyone would benefit from it. Easy enough for a beginner but with plenty of resources for the intermediate (and dare I say advanced) gardener.

Don't spend too much money!
All of my pots (or plastic tubs) I got off of craig's list or from the dollar store. I even got a few just regular tubs and drilled lots of holes into the bottom for drainage. Some of them were free.

Try growing from seed.
They're cheap and I certainly don't mind that they sprout irregularly. You can move them around or trim them back as they grow so you have even seedlings throughout your pots. Or try growing them inside!

Spend money on plants that you know will last.
This is the rose bush's second season on my roof. Handled the winter just fine. Learn what zone you're in and shop accordingly. Perennial plant tags say what zones are best for them. Otherwise, you can bring tropical plants indoors. Just remember to keep them in until the temperature has stabilized above 40 deg F at night. I tried to bring my Aloe Vera plants out too early this year and almost killed them.

Know what you have and Use what's already there.
And I spent a few days going up to the roof at different times of day to get a feeling for how much sun and shade my roof gets. During the summer it gets more sun than some plants can handle. But I do have that wall that provides a bit of shade in the afternoon, even with the silver paint.

And I use what's already on my roof, like this pole will eventually be supporting these snap pea plants.

Ask an expert!
Find your local nursery, plant and garden store, or even a hardware store and find someone that will answer your questions. Start out small and learn as you go. It's ok if it doesn't work out at first, a lot of it is trial and error. While I love the plants themselves, I also just love playing in the dirt.