Posted on 15 April 2008 by

Gardening on a Budget Part 1: Free Seed Starters

Free Seed StartersBy Michael Nolan

In this installment, we’re going to take a look at a few creative ways to use what you already have instead of buying expensive pots for your container garden.

Egg Cartons
My partner always looks at me funny when I rinse and save my empty egg cartons. When it comes time to start the seeds for a new gardening season, I pull them out, fill them with some nutrient-rich compost and voila!

I’ve got seed starters that didn’t cost me a penny. I did start buying eggs that come in cardboard cartons so that I can simply cut them apart and drop them right in place in my garden.

Toilet Paper & Paper Tower Rolls
Those sturdy paperboard rolls can easily be cut down into the perfect size to start your long-root seedlings. Just cut notches into one end and fold the pieces together to form the bottom and fill with your favorite seed starter mix.

Another fantastic option I came across a few years ago was to make your own seed starter pots by recycling your old newspapers. Rather than try to explain the steps required, I found an excellent video that will show you just how easy it is to make your own seed starter pots:

With these ideas in mind, I’d bet you can come up with a few on your own by just looking at what you have lying around the house. Even if they aren’t biodegradable, you can still use some containers over and over — recycling at its best! What about those empty yogurt containers or baby food jars?

Now get out there, get creative and have a great time doing it!

10 Responses to “Gardening on a Budget Part 1: Free Seed Starters”

  1. naturehills Says:

    I hadn’t thought about toilet and paper towel rolls. The egg cartons I use very year.

  2. Aileen Says:

    I use newspaper pots every year! Put them next to each other in a cake pan or drip catcher from older plastic starts. By the time they’re ready to go into the garden, they’re good and soft and go right into the ground without having to disturb roots.

  3. LetsPlant Says:

    The egg carton is new to me!! Great idea!!

  4. Dani in NC Says:

    I used egg cartons to start my tomatoes and toilet paper rolls to start my cucumbers this year. Both sets of seedlings look good right now, and I hope they survive the transfer to big pots.

  5. Michael Nolan Says:

    Thanks for the responses, everyone! I look forward to hearing how your urban gardens are growing this season so keep us posted!


  6. philip Says:

    Great suggestions! i like your blog!

  7. Michael Nolan Says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Philip! As a photographer myself I have to tell you that I really enjoyed your blog as well. Some fantastic photography there!

  8. Shibaguyz Says:

    GREAT pointers Michael! Re-posting this one for sure…

  9. Kate Says:

    Hi There,

    Great post. The video has been removed by the user according to YouTube. Is located anywhere else I could take a look?


  10. Ashley Craft Says:

    Egg cartons work wonderfully!! I was kicking myself for spending $$ on one of those plastic greenhouse seed starters before I learned about these better ideas… (I am an amateur!)

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