These succulent perennials go through an amazing transformation, starting as green-looking roses hugging the ground in spring. In summer, Autumn Joy Sedum grow 2-feet tall with large heads of tiny pink ﬂowers that attract a variety of pollinators. In fall, Autumn Joy Sedum"blooms" with seed heads that dry to a burnt red. Greenery dies back, leaving only the large heads. The striking stalks add winter interest as they dry and get covered in snow. I call them my "snow ﬂowers." Snow protects seed-heads for late winter food for birds. The one drawback to this succulent is that it is also attractive to deer. Once munched, however, Autumn Joy Sedum will grow back again as long as they haven't been pulled completely out of the ground.
I love mine.
I ﬁrst saw one when I was working in Yokuska, Japan where a gardener was working in a new ﬂower bed near my hotel window. When he wasn't jabbing the ground in small, consistent strokes with what I thought at ﬁrst was a trowel, the gardener carried it on a leather holster on his waist. I saw one on sale late fall at one of our local garden centers for $5 each so brought it home to try. Fall, by the way, is the best time of year to buy garden tools because you can often ﬁnd them on sale.
How to Use Weeding Knife
Be careful when you pick it up because the blades on both sides are sharp, as is the bifurcated point. Mine has serrated edges on one side of the blade, and inches marked from the handle down the center of the blade. This one tool has replaced 6 other tools I used to regularly haul in a bucket around the garden. I use mine to easily remove deep-rooted weeds; to make holes for planting; to plant bulbs at the right depth, and to quickly snip tree roots when I don't have any clippers handy. A popular Japanese Bonsai-collecting tool, it is now my favorite go-to gardening tool. Besides my box of Band-Aids.
One of my all-time, low maintenance and low water-requiring perennials is Autumn Joy Sedum. This succulent plant starts out as low to the ground, green roses. By summer, Autumn Joy Sedum grows to almost two feet tall with tiny pink ﬂowers at the end of stalks resembling broccoli.
Summer of 2012, when Missouri set new high summer temperature records, this plant survived most of the time without requiring extra watering. The pink ﬂowers provide pollen for native bumble bees and carpenter bees, and much-needed nectar for butterﬂies and hummingbirds.
Another common household item you can use to start seeds is an egg carton, both cardboard and styrofoam.
Cardboard Egg Cartons
Cardboard egg cartons make excellent seed-starting pots. Add potting soil to the individual egg holders, add seeds and water. Once seeds start outgrowing the egg-size container, it's time to get them into the ground or into their ﬁnal pot destination. You can use the ﬂat size of the cardboard egg carton for toilet-paper roll pots, where you could transplant seedlings out of egg cups. The ﬂat side can also be used as a seed-planting tray for one seed type; plant the whole tray when it's time to transplant. Use styrofoam egg cartons under cardboard ones.
Styrofoam Egg Cartons
Once watered, cardboard egg cartons can easily loose their shape before it's time to cut them up and plant. By placing styrofoam under cardboard, the styrofoam will also help keep the seedlings in cardboard warm. I also use styrofoam egg cartons to save broken egg shells, my favorite "pot" for growing seedlings. Once seedlings are ready to transplant, plop the seedling in egg shell right into the planting hole. No transplanting trauma, which usually kills off a percentage of young seedlings, and the egg shell will provide young plants with much-needed calcium.
It's very tempting to buy those expensive seed-starting kits with bright colors and promises that anything planted in them will grow. I get tempted too, only you don't really need them unless you are running a huge nursery operation. For those of us growing home vegetable and ﬂower gardens, we have items around the house we can easily use to grow seeds. Start with saving empty cardboard toilet-paper and paper towel rolls. No need to remove paper remnants, both paper products will easily be absorbed once they are planted in soil.
How to Make Potting Pots
To turn them into planters, cut them either in half or in thirds. Snip the bottoms at 4 equal corners for half to one inch deep cuts; then fold the ﬂaps in to make bottoms. I use the one-third pot size ﬁlled with potting soil to start seeds, then transplant individual seedlings into half-size toilet paper tube pots, or the equivalent in paper towel rolls.
How to Use Toilet Paper Pots
Once it's time to move seedlings, all you need to do is pop the whole pot into soil. I keep my stash in a bag in the garage next to my recycling bin so I can quickly ﬁsh out paper tubes before the bin heads to the curb.
Have you used toilet paper rolls for seed pots?