Guest Post by: Nicole from Little Blog on the Homestead
My garden is currently under 2 feet of snow…
…and probably will be like that until March or April, doesn’t mean I’m not already dreaming of spring and all the lovely things I plan to grow this year!
Even though I won’t be able to get my hands in the ground until at least April, and won’t start planting until May doesn’t mean that I’m just sitting around waiting for the day I can plop my seeds in the ground and go. Instead I am prepping all of my seed starter options!
I prefer options that I can make or reuse rather than buying those plastic seed starter’s from the store.
We try and limit our waste as much as possible and I don’t like to buy one-use items, especially one use items with a ton of plastic packaging! But there are some great options out there for seed starters no matter what your budget or time availability is and depending on what you’re growing some will work better than others!
10 Easy DIY Seedling Starters
1. Egg Shells
Egg shells make great seed starters because you can put the whole thing right into the ground when it is time to plant. I break up the shell a bit when I’m putting it into the ground in order let the roots grow down easier. But that’s it!
The shell will decompose and provide a nice boost of calcium to your new plant, and you’ve made a seed starter that is completely waste free! Plus it’s a good reason to enjoy some more eggs. 😉
For a helpful hint: put the egg shells back in the carton as they’re germinating since it’s already the perfect holder!
2. Egg Cartons
Around here most eggs come in the Styrofoam cartons, so this wouldn’t work as well. But if you get your eggs in the cardboard cartons, or know someone who does, this is a perfect option for germinating those seeds!
Especially for the delicate little ones. You can still use the styrofoam ones but you’ll have to take the seedling out before you plant it.
3. Newspaper Boxes
1. Take your single sheet of newspaper and fold it in half.
2. Fold down the corners on the folded edge of your paper.
3. Fold up one side of the newspaper in two folds
4. Flip your paper over and fold in the outer edges.
5. Fold up the newspaper in half.
6. Fold it again.
7. Tuck the second fold into the newspaper.
8. Open up the box and smooth the bottom.
9. Add dirt and grow your seeds!
These little origami style seed starters are so fun! I use these ones for larger plants that need a little more room and stability while they’re starting out- like if it’s going to be a taller plant or something that needs an extra long head start!
Note: Both of these options with newspaper are biodegradable so it’s another one that you can create with n0 waste! So recycle those newspapers and get your seeds growing!
4. Newspaper Rolls
For smaller plants that don’t need as much soil or to germinate as long I’ll use newspaper rolls to germinate them. They’re nice and easy and give you a great option for those smaller/delicate plants!
When it’s time to put them in the ground you can just put it in and go! My favorite kind of seed starter.
5. Toilet Paper Rolls
Similar to the tube style with newspapers you can use toilet paper rolls for your seed starters! These are not biodegradable, so you’ll have to unfold the bottom to get the plant out when you’re ready to transplant, but if you go through a lot of TP start saving them up and use them!
Note: They’ve got great side stability but can be a little wobbly on the bottom!
I don’t drink coffee, but oh man do they drink a lot of it at my work! Recently the department got a fancy single cup coffee maker, and that means a lot of those k-cups are being thrown away.
Instead why don’t you use them for germinating seeds! Ask people nicely and I’m sure they’ll set aside their used k-cups for you! Just let it cool before handling because those things get HOT.
Scoop out the coffee grounds (and bonus, compost fodder) and the liner. Add dirt and seeds and voila! Once you pop the germinated seeds out to plant you can either save the cup to do again, or toss it. But at least it was able to get one more use!
7. Re-usable pots
If you buy plants from a nursery, or are lucky like me to have inherited a ton of gardening stuff from your grandparents you probably have about a million of those little plastic pots in the garage or shed. Why not use them for germinating your seeds! In the larger ones I’ll usually divide it into 2-3 different growing areas. These are nice because you’re going to get them anyways, might as well use them as much as you can before you have to throw them out.
8. Tray seed starters
I don’t mind these, and the little trays can be used over and over again, my only problem is the cost! But they’re great for first timers or someone who doesn’t have the time to create the other methods. Look for ones though that have the least amount of packaging and use those trays next year to hold your egg shell or newspaper seed starters! You can buy re-fills of the little pod things, so at least this is an option you can use year after year.
9. Plastic Bottles
This is another great option for reusing those items destined for the recycle bin! This is also a great option for a self watering plant starter, you just cut the bottle in half, plant your seed and set the bottle top in the bottom half and fill that with water.
10. Yogurt Cups
Does your family love those individual cups of yogurt? Rinse ’em out and fill them with dirt! Poke a few holes in the bottom and you’ve got a great seed starter. Once it’s time to plant them just pop them out and put it in the ground. Re-use them as many times as you can before you’ve got to throw them in the recycling.
So what do you use to start your seeds in the spring? I’m getting antsy to get started, and to test out my mini greenhouse that I also inherited but for now I just flip through my seed catalogs and dream of all the goodies I’ll be growing this year!
Check out Nicole’s A Bit of Earth: Gardening Inspiration post!
Nicole blogs over at Little Blog on the Homestead, sharing with readers her attempts to create a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle. When she isn’t writing about homesteading, you’ll find posts on the zombie apocalypse (more commonly known as emergency preparedness), her homestead wedding, real food recipes, and every day life living on a suburban homestead. Follow along for yourself at www.littleblogonthehomestead.com
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