Saturday, June 20, 2015

Coffee-Cup Seed-Starter/Greenhouse

I’m so psyched because I made a cool discovery! I mean, there may be other people out there already doing this, but I didn’t know it. So, it’s my discovery! …Right? Isn’t that how it works? Ok, probably not.

Anyway, I started opening up used little coffee cups from my beloved coffee maker, of German origins, so that I could collect the coffee grounds for the compost. As I was doing this, it dawned on me what a perfect little seed-starter these things would make. I emptied out the coffee, and pulled out the miniature filter inside of it. It even has a little perforated raised plastic screen at the bottom, which I believe is designed to keep the filter from sagging and covering up the hole at the bottom of the cup from which the coffee drips into your coffee mug. Basically, it helps to create drainage! It’s like it was made for starting seeds.

Then I realized that I don’t even have to rip out the filter. I can just leave it in and rinse out the cup to remove the excess coffee. Speaking of which, coffee grounds are generally considered a good thing for plants. Even though it will not be used in a way that will allow the seedlings to extract any nutrients from the coffee (because it will not be broken down enough for the seedlings to absorb it), it won’t hurt them either as long as you rinse it out a few times to reduce the level of acidity from the coffee. Then, all that’s left to do is fill the cups up with soil, plant the seeds, water and wait.

But wait! There’s more! I realized that I could then place these coffee-cup seed-starters into old seed-starter trays. Just line them up and put the lid on. Sometimes, depending on the tray size, the cups may not fit perfectly – you may have to reduce the number of cups you can fit into a tray – but it works. Also, I’ve started saving other plastic trays that have lids, such as sandwich trays and roasted chicken trays. I particularly like the trays with a high dome, like the mixed salad container shown below. You can let plants get taller inside the tray before transplanting, which can be advantageous at times. All of these can be washed out and lined with these little coffee cup seed-starters to create tiny greenhouses.

So, give it a shot and do some incredible recycling at the same time. It’s a perfectly ecologically responsible way to have coffee and do some gardening. It could only get better if they weren't made out of plastic to begin with. But that’s for another time, in a more perfect world. 

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