Thursday, January 15, 2015

Seed Starting Containers

My seed starting containers in the rough.
Starting your own seeds to plant in your garden doesn't have to be a daunting task, nor does it need to be very expensive. Using recycled materials, you can start your seeds inexpensively. What kinds of materials should you hold onto for seed starting? Newspaper, old egg cartons, milk cartons, or empty yogurt, cottage cheese or sour cream containers. For larger plants that are not yet ready for outdoor planting, or for seeds that need a but more soil to germinate, you can use empty peanut butter jars, coffee containers, empty plastic pickle jars, etc. 


In my community we have a weekly paper delivered to our door, and we also get ads in the mail. It's like they're dropping of materials for free! Wait, that's exactly the case! What you will need is a stack of newspaper (the dull kind, without the shiny coating,) a stapler, and some sort of cylindrical object, preferably with an open end. I use a fairly straight sided shot glass, if that gives you an idea of what size you need. First, tear the newspaper in strips long ways,  about four inches wide. Roll a strip around your cylinder, leaving about an inch of overhang on the open end.  Tuck the paper down into the opening, then, taking care not to let the paper unravel, remove the cylinder. Put a staple or two in the side where the seam is, then flatten down the part you tucked into the cylinder to make a bottom. You should be left with a cup shape made of the newspaper. Fill with starter soil, add seeds, and place your little pots in a shallow tray. Put a good amount of water into the tray and place in a sunny location. Keep the paper moist, so that the soil will stay moist as well. Once your plants are big enough to go in the ground, plant it pot and all. The roots should be able to work through the newspaper as it breaks down in the ground. At some later date, I will put up a post with photos and instructions for making newspaper starter pots. This page is already kind of busy with all the things that are going on already, so check back, mmmkay?

Just cut off the lid and flap!

Egg cartons

This is a super simple method to start your seeds. Cut the lid off of the carton, fill the egg cups with starter soil and add seeds. Put your newly made seed carton in a shallow tray and add water. Keep the carton moist, to keep the soil moist as well. Once your plants are ready to go into the ground, cut the cups apart. Leave your plant in its egg cup to plant. Your roots will have already begun to work through the egg cup, and attempting to remove the plant will damage the roots. 
Cut off the top of the carton.

Milk Cartons

Cut the tops off of milk cartons, and rinse thoroughly. Punch a few holes in the bottom, and fill with starter soil. Plant your seeds and place cartons in a shallow tray. Water thoroughly and place in a sunny location. When it comes time to plant, tear or cut away the milk cartons and plant your little seedlings!
Punch drainage holes in all your containers.

Food Containers

The cups that yogurt, cottage cheese, and sour cream come in can make great little starter pots. Make sure that you are using the yogurt cups which are narrower at the base. The cups with narrow tops will make it more difficult to remove your plants to put them in the ground. Larger containers such as peanut butter jars, pickle jars, or coffee canisters can be used to replant seedlings, or to start seeds for squash,  melons, or cucumbers. All you need to do to prep your pots is wash and rinse thoroughly, punch a few holes in the bottom, and fill with starter soil. Plant your seeds our plants and place your pots in a shallow tray. Water well and place in a sunny location. When your plants are big enough to go into the ground, turn your pot on its side, squeeze the bottom of the pot to loosen your plant, and lift it out. If you are still having difficulties getting it out, slice down the side of the pot with a sharp knife or box cutter.