Tag: Peat Pellets
If the weather conditions in your town are still a bit cold and your planting calendar hasn’t gone beyond your Average Last Frost (ALF) date, a good way to get a head start on your garden is by starting seeds in peat pellets.
Even if the weather is warm enough to start your garden, peat pellets are a fun activity for your kids. For whatever reason, there’s something very appealing to kids about peat pellets. I think it’s because of the way they start as little pellets and grow in the water, much like those expandable water toys you’ll find in grocery store quarter machines that only actually work half of the time.
It’s also extremely easy so your kids can basically do every step and it doesn’t take long.
Another advantage of planting in a peat pellet over a little container is that the roots can grow right out and don’t get root-bound. Some of the seed varieties that do well in peat pellets include peas, gourds, cucumbers, pumpkins, vining flowers, sunflowers, or zinnias. For this article, my gardening assistant, Eli, and I will try out Dragon Tongue Beans.
Here’s how it’s done:
1. Gather Supplies
All you need to get started is a bowl that can hold a couple of inches of water, some paper dixie ups, seeds, and peat pellets. You can find peat pellets at any gardening store and most hardware stores.
And, of course, Beanstalk Seeds offers them in our gift baskets.
2. Soak the Peat Pellets
As I mentioned earlier, the peat pellets come in flat spheres that feel like a smooth pebble. They are made up of peat moss and some form of fertilizer mixed with lime. An extremely light netting holds all the materials together while the pellet expands in the water.
Fill up your bowl with a couple of inches a water and place your pellets in the water and let soak for 5 or 10 minutes until they expand. Once they expand, the transform from a flat sphere to more of an upright cylinder. This shape allows you to easily place the peat pellet in a dixie cup with the hole-side facing up. The side with the hole is where you’ll plant your seeds.
3. Plant Your Seed
Once your peat pellets have been placed in a dixie cup, it’s time to plant your seeds. Have your kids use their fingers to dig a little hole about 1/2 – 1 inch deep in the peat pellet and place the seeds in the hole.
In this example, we’re planting Dragon Tongue Beans seeds which are as big as an actual bean so we only planted one seed per peat pellet. If you’re planting smaller seeds like flower seeds, you can put a couple of seeds in each peat pellet and thin the weaker seedling out if they both sprout.
Once the seed has been placed in the pellet, pinch a little bit of the peat over the seed to cover it and then add a little bit of water to each peat pellet.
4. Place By Window and Watch Them Grow
After each peat pellet was seeded and watered, you can place the dixie cups in a plastic container or tupperware in case they start leaking water and place it by a window. Add a little bit of water each day until they sprout and once they get a couple of inches in height, it’s time to put them in the ground.
When that time comes, you can plant the whole peat pellet into the ground, not just the seedling, and there’s no need to remove the netting that keeps the pellet in tact.
For our garden, we’re going to plant Dragon Tongue Beans directly into the ground with and without using peat pellets. We’ll re-visit this topic when our Dragon Tongues begin to sprout in our peat pellets and ready to be planted in our garden.
Starting Seeds With Peat Pellets
If you want to get a head start on your garden, a great way to start is by planting your seeds in peat pellets. This will help your seeds germinate in ideal conditions and will give you a 1-2 week jump start on those plants in your garden.
Peat pellets use peat and coconut coir as the growing medium that is wrapped in biodegradable netting. In the compressed, dehydrated form, they are easy-to-store pellets that keep all year round. Once you add water, the pellets decompress and become nice little containers for your seedlings.
This method works especially well for vining crops and flowers. Root vegetables, such as carrots and radishes, do best when directly sown into your garden.
Tomatoes, peppers and other long-growing plants, that are typically not direct seeded into your garden, can also be started in peat pellets. However, these plants should be started earlier and grown in a grow light unit so that they reach the ideal transplant size by your recommended outdoor planting date.
Find a container, such as bowl or tray, that can hold the peat pellets and add about 1/2 inch of water. Put the pellets flat in the water with the hole in the netting facing up.
Add 1/2 inch of lukewarm water and let them sit for about 5 minutes so they expand.
Once they’ve decompressed, drain the water and place the pellets upright in a container (old plastic plant packs work well for this). Gently pull back a little of the netting at the top so that you have room to plant your seeds.
Using your finger, make a small hole in the peat pellet at the depth recommended on your seed pack for the seed variety you are planting. Place 2 seeds in each peat pellet (you will need to thin to 1 seed if both sprout).
Once the seeds have been placed in the hole, pinch a little of the peat to cover the seed. Pour a small amount of water over the peat pellet and cover tray with plastic wrap or plastic cover. When peat pellets begin to look dry, pull back plastic cover and water gently. Drain the excess water out of the tray.
Keep a close eye on your plants for any sign of germination; this typically takes 2-3 days. Once you see any sign of something growing, take the plastic wrap off of the top of the tray and place in a sunny window. You can also put them in a grow light unit, if available or take outside during the warm, sunny days (take back in at night if temperatures drop).
If multiple seeds have germinated in the peat pellets, thin the plants down to one plant per peat pellet.
Once weather conditions are warm enough for the variety you are growing to be planted outside (see our planting calendar), take the tray of peat pellets outside for a day or two to acclimate them to outdoor weather and wind.
Plant the peat pellets and their seedlings directly in the ground or raised bed in your garden (you do not need to remove the pellet’s netting) and water seedlings after planting.