by Lydia Krupinski

I feel somewhat ashamed for having kept this new innovation to ourselves: Over a month ago David and I concocted our very own germination stations to jump start our edible garden. I admit that I shared some of these photos on my Facebook – but never got around to posting them here. Please forgive me.

The two of us wanted to build something that would not deface our vintage rental, while remaining as effective as any fancy greenhouse. We also wanted to incorporate as many upcycled materials as possible. We set up shop in the two rooms that contained the most light for the longest period of time: the bathroom and the bedroom. I focused on the first, David on the latter.

For the bathroom I knew I could rig up an extra curtain pole that was sitting naked, unused,  mounted to the wall. We had curtain clips from some shades we had made, and decided that it would be easy to use these for hanging planters. All we had to do was fill them up with soil, plant the seeds, and clamp them to the curtain rings.

In the bedroom David devised a brilliant shelving system using a pair of Ikea CD racks that had been long collecting dust. He screwed them straight into the wall – far enough away from the window frame to allow it to be opened on warm spring days. For the shelves he used scrap fiber board and cut it to shape. What I love about this setup is that the shelves can be shifted or completely removed which allows for maximum versatility.  For this germination station we used empty egg cartons as planters which had been collected by us over the long winter.

We waited in anticipation for our planting day to arrive.  The calendar had been eagerly marked 6 weeks before the last frost (in Chicago this means Mother’s Day). We had our own little ceremony where we played the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack and giggled like children in a rain storm. We were really doing this – becoming full out urban homesteaders – raising food from absolute scratch! Sure last year we had a tasty harvest, but we had started from seedlings, which was kind of like cheating. Not this year. This year we were really ‘growing.’

One month later we are thrilled with the results!

All of our seeds have blossomed and we’re in the process of switching them out for larger containers (except the Swiss Chard, I accidentally knocked that one over). We’ve planted all heirloom varieties purchased from Seed Savers. These include Cherry Roma tomatoes, Five Color Silverbeet chard, Stevia, Bloomsdale spinach, Silvery Fir Tree tomatoes, Black Beauty Zucchini, sage, English lavender, chives, green onions, beans, basil and peas.

We will be sure to keep you updated as crops grow, fail, and flourish!