Seed Starting Pots & Trays: Budget Savers

Here are several great ideas that reuse bits from around the house and put them to work for both your garden and your wallet. There are a few clever money savers here!

Some are nice little winter projects for the kiddos to keep busy with until Spring arrives, which is always nice.

Most of these are made with materials that can be planted in the ground and left there to decompose so that’s a bonus.

When the weather has warmed, put the trays out for several days in a row (bringing them in each night) until the seedlings are hardened and safe to go in the ground.

A soil mix recipe you can try is:

1 part milled sphagnum moss
2 parts Vermiculite
2 parts Perlite

Note: Can use peat, sawdust, compost, perlite & bark instead of Vermiculite

*Source: (site no longer online)

If you plan on reusing containers year after year, make sure to wash them really well before storing away until next season (a little household bleach in the water would be helpful). This will ensure no contamination in case of disease.

DIY Projects & Tutorials
Newspaper Pots: This is the nicest tutorial I could find online, easy technique for rolling newspaper into pots.

Plastic Jugs: Learn all about winter sowing with plastic milk or water jugs (they act as mini-greenhouses).
DIY Ghetto Greenhouse: Take 2 liter bottles and turn them into seed-starting powerhouses.

Biodegradable: Save up your empty toilet paper rolls and transform them into biodegradable pots with a few clever snips and folds.
Self-Watering: Made with 2 liter plastic bottles (smaller sizes will work too) that are sterilized then cut (in third) and reassembled with the neck down.

Soil Blocks: (Website MIA, link to webarchive) Produces a growing medium that does not use a container and is easily transplanted in the garden.
Paper Pulp: Here’s a great way to use up shredded paper, just blend it with water and form in muffin tins to dry.

Paper Mache: This one uses ripped up cardboard from cereal boxes, soak in water then blitzed in the blender. Silicone muffin cases are recommended as a mold.
Yogurt Cups: All that’s needed is to give the container a good wash after the contents have been eaten. Poke a few holes in the bottom & you’re good to go.

K-Cups: Finally! Here’s a useful way to recycle that endless supply of used K-cups.

More Simple Ideas

Cardboard Egg Cartons: Simply cut apart when they’re ready to plant, can go right in the ground.

Clear Plastic Clamshell Containers: All you need to do is puncture some holes in the bottom, fill the tray with soil and carry on. The lid can be kept empty, close it and you have yourself a mini-greenhouse!

Paper or Plastic Coffee Cups: Most paper varieties can be kept in the ground, for styrofoam or plastic cups, reuse year after year by washing them out after each use.

Eggshells: A lot of folks swear by this method since the egg shells are good for the soil too. I find them a little too fussy for my tastes, but they do get the job done!

Grapefruit/Citrus Shells: When eating citrus fruits, cut them in half, remove the fruit and leave the little ‘peel bowls’ to fill with soil. Poke a hole in the bottom for drainage. Not sure how practical this is but can be useful for a small number of seedlings. Can be kept in the ground.

Milk Cartons: This is what I grew up with, I remember my grandmother using these each Spring. Cut them down to size, rinse out well and carry on.

Also check out 10 Tips from Fine Gardening for starting seeds, the article is a great reference that contains tips and plenty of resources, including:

  • Keep records to allow for better planning
  • Store seeds properly to maintain viability
  • Cover trays with plastic wrap to keep the moisture level constant
  • Keep them warm to encourage germination

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    • MrBrownThumb


    Glad you found that tip useful. I also have an entry on making seed starters out of empty soda bottles and a way you can start seeds inside of a plastic sandwich bag. You can use the search box on my blog to find those entries.

    Happy Tip Hunting.

    • jen

    how to make your very own flower or veggie seed tape.
    first you will need a sheet of paper towel any brand will do
    cut it in strips or cut it in a circle to fight in the pot you wish to put it in
    next you will need a tooth pick to apply the paste you dab on just a dot of it per seed. Space 2 inches apart per seed or follow directions from your seed packet for the type of seed that you are planting.
    recipe for flour paste

    1/2 cup flour to 1/4 part water stir mixture shouldn’t be to thick dab on flour paste to paper towel then put the seed on top of the paste then dab a drop on top of the seed then place another strip of paper towel on top of it and then you should have seeds sandwiched between the paper towel strips this is way cheaper then buying them from high end stores and they work just the same don’t forget to add the dirt.

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