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Easy Seed Starters

by Paul-Martin Foss

Even though fall is here, it’s not too late in many areas of the country to plant fall crops such as greens. If you have seeds that are in need of cold stratification, you’ll definitely want to get them planted now. And for those who look forward to springtime, it’s never too early to start planning for your spring garden.

One of the dilemmas facing most gardeners is how to start seedlings. Sure, you can buy seed flats and commercial containers, but that takes money that is better spent purchasing potting soil and fertilizer. Wouldn’t it be easier to repurpose things that you would otherwise throw away? Here are a few easy ways to start your seedlings.

Toilet Paper Rolls

Toilet paper rolls are an easy way to start seeds. Seal one end, fill with potting soil, add your seed and water. Once the seedlings are established, you can poke holes in the sides of the rolls and plant them directly in the ground, since the cardboard will eventually break down. You can do the same thing with cardboard rolls from paper towels, aluminum foil, etc., just cutting them to the size you need.

Yogurt Containers

Yogurt containers can serve as seed starters too. The small individual serving yogurt containers can work for smaller seedlings, just punch a hole in the bottom to allow water to drain, fill with potting soil, and plant your seed. Larger yogurt containers can work for larger seedlings that need to grow taller and develop more root mass before transplanting. When transplanting, be sure to take care not to damage the roots when removing the seedlings from the container.

Milk Jugs

You can cut milk jugs in half just below the handle and use either half as a seed starter. The bottom half can be filled with potting soil and partitioned into 4 or 9 sections using cardboard or aluminum roof flashing if need be. Some people use the top half too, turning it upside down and placing it on a rack or hanging it off a wall. The top half can also be taped to the bottom half so that it is removable during the day to allow sunlight in and then can be placed back on the lower half at night to keep the seedlings warm overnight.

Egg Shells and Egg Cartons

Egg shells and egg cartons are another easy and biodegradable way to start seeds. A small amount of potting soil in an eggshell is enough to get most seedlings started, and can be placed directly in the ground. As the shell breaks down it will provide calcium to the growing plant.

Egg cartons can be filled with potting soil too, and each individual cavity can be cut out and planted in the ground, as the cardboard will break down. This could be very helpful for plants such as celeriac or tobacco whose small seedlings are very delicate and prone to damage when transplanting.

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