This winter gardening tip is either ironic, serendipitous, or meta. Or maybe a little bit of all three. Re-using empty lettuce containers as mini greenhouses to grow new lettuce is really the ultimate in recycling.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Several plastic clam-shell containers – from grocery-store-purchased baby spinach and mesclun.
Seeds – spinach, arugula, mesclun work great.
Seed-starting soil mixture, or light potting soil
A rimmed baking sheet
Here’s the process:
If the plastic clam-shell container you’re reusing doesn’t have circulation holes in the bottom, use a sharp knife to create five slits…one at each corner and one in the middle. Conversely, if your plastic clam-shell container has air circulation holes that are so large that soil would leak out (like some berry boxes) line it with a paper towel. These holes will act as drainage. Place as many containers side-by-side as will fit on your baking sheet.
Fill clamshell container halfway with moistened seed-starting mixture or light potting soil.
Sprinkle seeds on top of soil according to directions on packet, and lightly press to ensure seeds are in contact with damp soil.
Place plastic cover on container and set tray on top of refrigerator, or other consistently warm spot for 2-5 days, until seeds begin to sprout. Keep moist by pouring water into the baking sheet and allowing the dirt to soak it up from the bottom.
Once sprouted, move to warm, bright, south-facing window. Keep watering from bottom.
When lettuce leaves reach the lid, uncover and allow to grow freely. Keep watering from bottom. If you plant your seeds very closely, you can thin them to use as sprouts in a salad.
Harvest your crop at any stage after leaves have formed by clipping at base of plants with scissors. As long as the roots are left undisturbed, new leaves should grow.