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Starting your own plants from seeds is a rewarding experience. You need look no further than around your house to find little containers that will provide a home for your new little seedlings. Using recycled materials is smarter than purchasing new ones at the store, and is super easy. We call this the 3R method for reduce, reuse and recycle. Think about it: all your container needs to do is hold dirt and allow for water to drain, so there’s no shortage of materials if you think creatively. Why throw something in the trash if you can give it a useful purpose? All you need is some all-purpose potting soil and then it’s time to round up some seed starters!
Egg cartons: Once the lid is removed, you’ve got an instant tray for your seeds, each with its own individual compartment. The carton disintegrates after you plant it, just like those ones you get at the plant nursery only free after you buy the eggs. Good for plants where you don’t want to disturb their roots like
Eggshells: They look awfully cute and you can plant them after the plant has sprouted and ready for transplant. Try and break them carefully enough in half and give them a rinse to make way for soil. They need a small hole poked in the bottom. Be sure to gently crush the eggshell when you’re ready to plant the seedlings in the ground.
Paper towel tubes: Or toilet paper rolls. These are one of the easiest items to get because they just pile up anyway. Cut them down to a reasonable size, leaving a few folding tabs to form the bottom and stand them on their end.
Yogurt containers: Those little plastic cups are a great size and also sturdy.
Paper cups: For each time you forgot your reusable mug, you can reuse that coffee cup. Just poke a few holes in it.
Pint ice cream containers: After you’ve finished a few of these from Ben & Jerry’s, it’s off to the gym and then to start some seedlings!
Newspaper: Or reuse other types of paper as long as you think it will hold up. Check out this great way to make origami seed pots from newspaper.
2-Liter plastic bottles: You’ll want to drill a few small holes in the bottom after lopping off most of the top to make a container out of one of these.
Milk jugs and orange juice cartons: Same idea as the plastic bottle. Orange you glad you can find all these great seed starting pots for free in your recycling bin?
Get inspired by the Merry Project in Japan. They sell kits that reuse plastic bottle caps and include soil and seeds to start a little plant. You can easily do this yourself, or purchase one to support their work of international art and communication.
Many people like to cover their seed containers after sowing their seeds to hold in moisture. It’s like making a mini greenhouse. This gives you another opportunity to reuse any piece of plastic wrap after you poke small holes in it.
Timing is everything depending on which varieties you want to grow. Some plants are more cold or heat tolerant. Remember to plan ahead and determine a date that you want to set your transplants in the garden, then count backward. Your seed packet should usually have times for sprouting and growing.
Happy sprout spotting!