Don’t waste your money on purchasing new seed starting pots each year! You can use these recycled seed starting containers for gardening. It’s free, easy, and works!
Starting seeds indoors can get expensive really quickly. Over the years, we managed to use recycled containers for gardening, and germinated all of our seeds for practically free!
Here in New England, we have a very short growing season, so a lot of our slow growing crops need to get a head start indoors in the early spring.
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8 Recycled Seed Starting Containers for Gardening
Throughout the year, I save up recyclables for this purpose. I save egg cartons, newspapers, yogurt containers, toilet paper tubes, pretty much anything that can hold soil and a seed. Starter pots are expensive, and using recycled containers for gardening is totally free!
I even tried using eggshells one year as seed starting pots, because we have plenty of those lying around! I started some sunflowers in the eggshells, having completely forgotten about how incredibly, unbelievably fast they grow. Next year I’ll toss these seeds right in the garden instead!
Eggshells work well for herbs seeds. Just be sure to poke a hole in the bottom before filling with seed staring mix. When you are ready to transplant, gently crack the eggshell, remove a few shards around the bottom so the roots can grow out, and plant the whole thing!
I used an egg carton to start my pepper seeds. When the little seedlings are ready to go outside I’ll gently tear the carton apart and plant each section right into the garden. The cardboard will compost away in the soil. Keep the egg carton in a tray to catch water.
Home made newspaper pots worked perfectly to start squash. These pots can be planted right in the ground! The only real downside is that the newspaper starts to disintegrate after a few weeks of watering, so be sure whatever you put in your newspaper pots is ready to go outside within a few weeks.
Place the newspaper in a container to help hold the pots together and catch water as it drains.
Toilet Paper and Paper Towel Tubes
I tried using toilet paper tubes propped up in a box to germinate my tomato seeds. These did work for a while, but the tomatoes outgrew them in a few weeks and had to be transplanted into bigger pots before heading outside. Next year I may try something that grows slower, like herb seeds.
The larger plastic party cups are great for potting up seedlings until they are ready to plant in the garden. Just be sure to poke holes in the bottom and keep them in a tray to catch water.
Also consider saving yogurt, sour cream, and ricotta cheese containers in various sizes. The smaller containers are excellent for starting seeds, while the larger 16-ounce containers can be used to pot up seedlings that need more time before planting into the garden.
The plastic berry containers from your grocery store are perfect for starting seedlings. They come with holes for drainage and a cover to hold in moisture. Just be sure to place these in a tray to catch water.
If you start your seedlings in coco coir grow pellets or soil blocks, recycled bakery containers make the perfect little greenhouse. Just flip them upside down, place your prepared soil blocks or pellets. Once the seeds sprout, snip off and remove the cover and the tray continues to catch water as your seedlings grow.
We’ve also been growing herbs and spinach in a window box in the sunroom for a few months now. Starting spinach indoors allows us to get several harvests during the winter months, and then it is ready to go outside.
Before using any container to start seeds, wash it well in warm soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and let air-dry. Visit Grow a Good Life for more seeds starting tips: 10 Steps to Starting Seedlings Indoors.
What’s germinating in your neck of the woods?