Kitchen Gardening

Save Recycled Containers for Starting Spring Seeds

If you use materials on hand, you can spend your money on more important things

Plastic and Styrofoam cups are perfect for starting seeds. Collect used ones during the holidays.   Photo by marajane under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

We’re going to focus on two things here. The first one is saving money on a required gardening practice—seed starting. The second one is ignoring the fact that we’re heading straight for deep winter and instead thinking about spring. We’re going to deny that we have months on end of cold weather and sleeping plants.

We’ll refuse to acknowledge that by the time the robins drag in the spring, we’ve literally been starved of fluffy soil, seed planting, and garden nurturing. Is it any wonder that by the time spring comes, we gardeners are ready to whip out the wallet and purchase whatever it takes to get our vegetable seedlings going?

Stop doing that. Getting those baby seedlings going is the shortest part of the growing cycle. Spend accordingly! Save your money for super important things like more tomato seed varieties, a mulching mower, or Felco pruners.

You can start right now by making a little space on a garage shelf or hidden box and begin saving little containers for seed starting. I promise you’ll collect more recycled items that you can believe and it’s really weird not to spend any  money this spring on new plastic seed cells or pots. And by “weird” I mean awesome in a justified-other-garden-purchases sort of way.

Seeds will also appreciate a little babying while they germinate by giving them some humidity. If you don’t have a plastic lid, you can make a cover out of plastic baggies and bamboo sticks or chopsticks to hold it in place over the container(s).

Seed container ideas:

  • Yogurt cups
  • Toilet paper (cut in half) or paper towel rolls (cut about four times)
  • Sour cream containers
  • Cottage cheese containers
  • Egg cartons and their lids (even half-egg shells for that matter)
  • Plastic milk or juice containers (cut the top off and use the bottom, then use the top as a cloche)
  • Paper, plastic, or Styrofoam cups
  • Salad or sandwich plastic deli trays (built in lid!)
  • Those tiny, snack-size Ben & Jerry ice cream containers

You get the idea. Be sure to wash the containers out thoroughly, and don’t forget your drainage holes.

For links to articles, blog posts, and videos on starting vegetable and flower seeds, see All About Starting Seeds.

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