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Gardening & More: Tips for starting seeds; Plantasia is coming

MAKE YOUR OWN — A simple plastic milk jug can be turned into a mini-greenhouse for planting seeds now – outside! Any plant that might sprout from seeds that were tossed into your compost pile will work, for this project. When you cut the milk jug, leave a flap, to act as a hinge.
SPRINGVILLE — During this time of year, I get antsy to do some gardening. Unfortunately, the ground is frozen and it is still too early to start seeds, inside.

The solution? Make a mini greenhouse and you can start hardy annual seeds right now – outside!

I will share this tip and 44 others, during a talk called “45 Gardening Tips in 45 Minutes,” scheduled for Friday, March 23 at 2 p.m., during Plantasia, a garden and landscape show. This event will be held at the Hamburg Fairgrounds event center and exposition hall, located at 5820 South Park Ave. in Hamburg.

Plantasia will begin with a preview night, from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., on Wednesday, March 20.

The event will continue from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Thursday – Saturday, March 21 – 23, and from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 24.

Seminars about gardening and landscaping will be given, every hour, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Thursday; from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday. All of the talks are included, with the price of admission.

General admission is $9. Discount coupons for $8 admission are available, on the Plantasia website.

Look for the flower show, presented by District 8 Federated Clubs of New York state.

Kids will enjoy the Aurora Waldorf School Children’s Garden. Vendors will offer new gardening products and services.

While you are waiting for Plantasia to begin, make a mini greenhouse from a milk jug. This idea came from Horticulturist David Clark of Hamburg. It is so simple and it works!

Utilize seeds from cold-hardy annuals, which are tolerant of colder temperatures and are capable of reseeding in most gardens. Use plants that might sprout up on their own, in your compost pile.

Vegetables include tomatoes, squash and cantaloupe. Flowers include alyssum, cosmos, cornflower, larkspur or delphinium, lupine, marigold and zinnia.

Start with a 1-gallon plastic milk jug. Rinse it out and throw away the cap.

Poke holes in the bottom, for drainage, if you would like. I didn’t, and my plants did well, but we had a dry spring, last year.

Using a sharp knife or box cutter, make a horizontal cut, almost all the way around the jug. The uncut part will act as a hinge.

Poke two small holes in the jug, opposite the hinge: one hole in the top half and one hole in the bottom half. I used a tiny screwdriver, to poke the holes.

Fill the bottom with your potting medium. Clark recommended using a soil-less potting mix. I used potting soil. Moisten your medium.

Plant your seeds.

Use a twist-tie to close the two halves. I twisted two ties together, to make one long tie.

Use a permanent marker, to label your mini greenhouse with the name of what you planted.

Place your greenhouse outside, in a sheltered spot. When the weather gets warm enough, your seeds will start to sprout. They will know when it is time to grow.

Enough rain or snow should get in, through the open top, to keep the potting mixture moist. The milk jug will keep your seedlings protected from rabbits, deer and other critters.

When the seedlings are large enough, transplant them into your garden.

Make this mini greenhouse now, to get your plants started for spring. Then, come to Plantasia, to see everything that is new for spring, in gardening.

Connie Oswald Stofko is the publisher of, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email

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2013-03-06 | 17:45:16
TickleMe Plant!
Another fun plant to start indoors is the pet TickleMe plant. This unusual house plant moves and closes its leaves when you Tickle it or blow it a kiss!