I spotted these 'windowsill greenhouses' from Jiffy at the hardware store. They were kind of cheap, about $8 per kit, and came with 12 peat pellets each, so I figured, why not? And I bought two kits and a packet of 36 peat pellet refills.
I have recently discovered the wealth of seeds that can be bought from various people on Ebay, and I had bought some black and white hollyhocks that I wanted to try to grow and I thought this looked like a good setup to try them out. I also had some red and yellow giant sunflowers, which I'm ridiculously excited about growing all along the back fence.
You fill the trays about 2/3rds with warm water and the pellets swell up to 6 times their original size or so in less than 15 minutes.
Then you part the cloth covering (if it hasn't done it already by itself) and sow your seeds in the dimple. Hollyhocks apparently like light to germinate so I just popped them on top and smudged a little of the peat over the top.
I filled one of my trays with sunflowers, and the other with hollyhocks then stood back and admired them.
But I wanted more, more! It was kind of fun, adding water and watching the pellets grow.
I rifled through the plastics cupboard and found some plastic takeaway containers and other more sturdy clear plastic tubs I thought would be suitable. I had all those extra pellets to use up after all.
The pellets do tend to float around at first, when they start to soak up the water you can poke them back down again.
I got creative with some cling film, and had an inspired idea about sowing strawberry seeds in a strawberry tub (with the holes sealed over for now, so they don't leak water all over the window sill). I even put labels with the date on them! (You may remember that is a gardening resolution of mine: to label things properly.)
That was last night, and I had such a good time doing it that I went back to the store today and bought two more windowsill propagators. I hope this works well, and I haven't put all my faith in these flimsy plastic containers for nothing. They make an impressive pile when all together... (for photo purposes only. They're lined up all along the kitchen window sills for the time being. I don't know what MIL is going to think when she sees it, but she's away at the moment so I can put my seeds where I like.)
The timing is right, though, to get the vegetable seeds sown in time for planting out in Spring. I haven't had a lot of success with sowing seeds so far, only peas, beans and corn have ever done well. I went through the container with my seeds - my Packets of Promise - to see what else I had. In addition to the hollyhocks, sunflowers and strawberries, I've also sown butternut pumpkin, 'lemon' cucumbers, 'Tigger' mini melons, Thai green eggplants, Black Russian tomatoes, bok choy, sweet capsicums, 'Minnesota' mini rock melons and roselle. I didn't actually buy a lot of those: remember how I mentioned Ebay for seeds? Well, when I bought my hollyhocks recently the seller accidentally sent me my seeds in one envelope, and someone else's seed order in another. Oops! I contacted them to let them know, and they said just to keep them if I wanted to and, of course, I wasn't about to say no to free seeds!
If this works well I'll be half set for Spring. Fingers crossed.