Now that we’ve (almost!) survived the long winter slog, spring is finally on the horizon. That means it’s nearly time to start your seedlings indoors.
And with that comes the perfect opportunity to make use of the food scraps you’ve been collecting throughout the winter months. So, in this blog, we’ll tell you how to start your seedlings the FoodCycler™ way with a countertop composter!
Grab a notebook – there’s a lot to take in!
The Benefit of Adding Fertilizer From Your Countertop Composter to Your Seedlings
If you're new to gardening (or new to your at home composter!), you can be forgiven for wondering why FoodCycler™ is so passionate about adding fertilizer, AKA Foodilizer™, to soil.
So, let’s run you through 5 simple benefits:
- Foodilizer™ is nutrient rich, delivering a hearty dose of goodness to your seedlings via the soil. This includes phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen, as well as tons of micronutrients.
- You can get away with watering your seedlings less frequently! Foodilizer™ retains moisture, meaning there’s always water available, reducing the risk of dehydration.
- There’s no need to introduce chemicals to your soil as Foodilizer™ naturally reduces plant diseases.
- Foodilizer™ helps to improve the growth of your seedlings! Not only will they develop more quickly, but they’ll look greener and stand up straighter.
- You relish the feel-good factor in putting your kitchen waste to use instead of going to landfills and releasing methane gas into the atmosphere.
The Best Food Scraps to Add Into Your Countertop Composter
FoodCyler’s tabletop composters can break down a wide range of food scraps, from fruit and vegetable cuttings, to bones, shells, and meats. But simply recycling your food waste doesn’t necessarily mean your seedlings will benefit.
Seedlings will thrive on healthy, whole, and organic foods. Whereas sugary, processed, or fatty foods can harm the roots and inhibit growth.
If in doubt, you can think of your Foodilizer™ as your seedling’s 5-a-day – the healthier, the better!
Check out our list of the best DIY fertilizers for a list of the most nutrient-rich household items!
6 Steps to Start Your Seedlings with a Countertop Composter
1. Find a Bright Location
Seedlings typically require 12-16 hours of light a day, but depending on the time of year, that can be tricky. If you have a windowsill that benefits from a constant stream of sunlight, this is an ideal spot! However, it’s wise to move the seedlings at night to protect them from colder temperatures. Alternatively, you can use supplemental lighting.
2. Source Growing Containers
Next, your seedlings will need a home! You can use small pots or simply recycle items you already have, such as yogurt pots, toilet paper rolls, or egg cartons. Just remember to add a hole in the bottom for water drainage.
3. Prepping the Soil
You should begin the soil prep process with a fresh, sterile soil mix suitable for seedlings. Reusing soil from your garden can put your seedlings at risk of disease, compromising their growth – you want your seedlings to be as healthy as possible.
When combining your homemade fertilizer from your countertop composter with your soil, it’s crucial to achieve the right fertilizer-to-soil ratio of 1:10. This is because kitchen waste produces an impressive amount of nitrogen. With too much fertilizer in the mix, it’s possible to “burn” your plants before they have a chance to spring to life.
At FoodCycler™, we recommend using a plastic bin to prep your soil. This helps you to achieve the right measurements, plus its small size is perfect for planting indoor seedlings.
The Countertop Composter Foodilizer™ Rule of Thumb
Did you know? Your soil’s existing bacteria loves to feast on tasty bio-matter produced from the Foodilizer™ in your indoor composter. Although not essential, we recommend binding them together at least 6 weeks prior to starting your indoor seedlings to ensure the Foodilizer™ cures well with the soil.
The FoodCycler™ FC-50 and the new FoodCycler™ ECO-5, are electric composter machines that can break down food scraps to a fraction of the original volume in a matter of hours. So, you don’t even need to wait around to begin the curing process!
4. Adding the Soil
The next step is to take your chosen container and add the Foodilizer™-soil mix. Fill it almost to the top and pat down gently, removing unwanted air pockets. It’s best to provide the mix with a little water, leaving it to drain before adding your seedlings.
5. Sowing Your Seeds
Carefully sprinkle your seeds on top of the prepared Foodilizer™-soil mix. Unless they’re really tiny and therefore hard to hold between your fingers, you should be able to leave a few centimeters between each one. Then it’s time to add a thin layer of Foodilizer™-soil mix, pressing gently to allow the seeds to touch the soil.
6. Encouraging Germination
You can use a plastic bag to cover each pot, ensuring the compost stays moist and encourages germination by retaining the ideal temperature. When you’re done, place your seeds on a windowsill or underneath supplemental lighting.
7. The Last Steps
As soon as you can see your seedlings poking through the soil, remove the plastic bag. They should stay like this until the second pair of leaves emerge, when you can transfer your seedlings to a seed tray, leaving a few centimeters between each one. Wait a few weeks, or until the plant gets significantly bigger, before moving to a large individual pot and placing outside.
And voila – you have successfully started your seedlings the FoodCycler™ way with a countertop composter!
Not sure whether a countertop composter is right for you? We’re pretty sure your seedlings (and your garden) will thank you for it – plus, it makes your job as a gardener that little bit easier.
Why not check out FoodCycler™’s tabletop composters? With two models to choose from, each boasting a different bucket capacity, you can find the right one for your household!
Please note: FoodCycler™ products are electric food recyclers, rather than traditional compost bins. The term ‘composter’ is a simplified, recognizable term for what our products do, and is sometimes used in our blog to refer to our product line for simplicity’s sake. Thanks for your understanding!