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by Gail Kavanagh

Growing seedlings in plastic trays is a tricky business. While separating the seedlings to be transplanted into the garden, they can get stressed and damaged, and the roots can become tangled. But there is a simple solution: sow your seeds in biodegradable pots and plant them in the earth, container and all. There will be no more stressed or wounded seedlings and they grow happily in the soil in which they were set. Here are some ways you can make your own seedling pots from recycled materials.

Egg Cartons

The recycled paper material used to make pulp egg cartons (not the plastic kind) are perfect for recycling again into the garden. Cut each cup into an individual container and place them side by side in your garden tray. Each little cup can be filled with soil and planted with small seeds – two or three is best, to give the seedlings a good chance. Don’t heavily water the seedlings, just gently mist them with a spray bottle filled with water. When they are large enough to transplant, it is easy to just take each cup and seedling and plant it directly into the ground. The cup will rot and allow the roots to grow down into the soil.

Toilet Roll Tubes

Have you ever wondered what use these ubiquitous items have besides making skittles for toddlers? They make ideal seedling pots. Fit several into a seedling tray or tin half as deep as the toilet rolls, and fill each roll with potting soil. You can put larger seeds into these, like nasturtium or melon, one to a roll, and keep lightly misted until the seedling appears and fine roots appear at the bottom of the roll. Transplant the seedlings into the spot in the garden where they are to grow in their cardboard containers.

Newspaper, scrap paper and brown paper

Making seedling pots from rolled paper is quick and easy for fast growing plants like squash, but for slower growing seedlings use a technique similar to paper maché. You can use empty yogurt tubs or plastic drinking cups for molds. Tear the paper into strips wide enough to cover the whole outside of the mold – including the bottom – and long enough to wind around the mold several times. Soak the strips in warm water for a few minutes, then wind around and under the mold. Set the cups in the sun and let the paper dry. Slip them out of the mold and fill with potting soil. These will hold together well, but if a corner goes astray, use a stapler (not glue or cello-tape) to fix it in place.

It is simple to make these biodegradable seedling pots, and you will find that other materials can be used as well. Cardboard can be rolled in a fashion similar to toilet rolls and held in place with staples. Old garments can be utilized as well – pieces cut from woolly sleeves and denim jeans can be stood up, filled with soil, and will work nicely as seedling pots. Large potato or rice sacks can be filled with soil, and openings cut in the side to make attractive strawberry or herb planters. Keep your eyes open and you will see that you don’t need fancy, expensive gardening accessories. Recycling is a frugal option that works even better.

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5 Hidden Ways Exercise Improves Well-Being

Some benefits of working out are obvious; exercise keeps you fit, slender and allows us farm girls to continue doing what we do. Less apparent advantages, though, are just as vital for your well-being and shouldn’t be overlooked. Once you realize how exercising more can help you be happy and healthy, you’re more likely to want to put on your running shoes or visit the gym and just go for it.

The feel-good factor

You might not always feel terrific before working out. In fact, one of the reasons you don’t always want to make an effort to exercise may stem from low energy or being in a negative mood. When your blood starts pumping as you take action, though, the feel-good factor comes into play. Your body produces chemicals that increase vitality and improve your mental state.

Enhanced motivation

Have you ever noticed how people who exercise on a regular basis are motivated? You might imagine they were born with the enthusiasm to be productive and throw themselves headlong into life, but this isn’t the case. Working out improves your mindset, not just by making you feel better, but also by providing mental clarity. Exercise shifts the brain fog that makes you lethargic and uninspired. With a clear head, you want to be industrious and get things done.

Less anxiety

Exercise can reduce depression and worries. While you walk, run, or workout, your stress lifts; this is partially due to hormones but also stems from taking action. Most people sit around doing nothing but worry when they are down, which intensifies their condition. Getting up and moving leaves less time in which to fret and affirms you are positive rather than in a state of despair. Your brain responds by decreasing stress chemicals. Plus, being proactive by exercising helps you see you are capable of being effective, which means you can change your mood.

Boosts self-esteem

Exercise helps you stay in shape, and when you’re fit, you look and feel attractive. While your appearance isn’t the most important aspect of you, it does influence your self-image. The way you see yourself has an impact on how confident you are, so you succeed in life. Also, when you look awesome, you are socially confident and less concerned with your appearance. Instead of checking it every five minutes, you relax, safe in the knowledge you look fabulous.

Healthy love life

Your love life will improve if you exercise regularly. You’ll be more self-assured due to your beautiful body. Additionally, studies show women are more likely to feel aroused when they exercise often, and men suffer less from erectile dysfunction when working out is part of their routine.

If you want to feel terrific, worry less, and have greater confidence and motivation, plus a better love life, start exercising more. Of course, you’ll also enjoy the obvious benefits of working out, like better health and a fitter body.

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