Making Your Own Seed Tray Starter from Recycled Materials

By in Green Talk on 30 August 2010

Starting seeds is a fun way to get a head start on the growing season. If you start sowing seed in February, March or April, you should have all kinds of leftover containers from recent holidays that could be used to make seed starters. Let’s take a look at some common materials you can use to sprout your own seeds.

1. Eggshells – While somewhat difficult, eggshell seed starters eliminate the need for removing the seedling. Simply put the seedling, eggshell and all, into the soil. If you want to make these, when you use an egg, crack it carefully in half and rinse out the shell. You can use an egg carton or egg cups to help the eggshells stand upright.

2. Egg cartons – Cardboard egg cartons also have the advantage of you being able to plant the seedling undisturbed. When ready to plant the seedling outdoors, carefully cut the cup sections out (or do so before planting) and plant the seedling while still in its cup. The cardboard will decay and the roots will grow right through it.

You can use styrofoam cartons, too; you’ll just have to push the seedling and its accompanying dirt out of the section. If you use egg cartons, cut off the top of the carton and place it beneath the sectioned part. This will catch the water from the seedlings. Be sure to poke a hole in the bottom of each egg carton segment before you begin.

3. Used paper, plastic, or styrofoam cups – If your family or a family you know uses paper bathroom cups, you should be able to accumulate quite a few in no time. If you attend church potluck dinners, work in an office where coffee is served in styrofoam cups, or attend any event with disposable cups, you should be able to gather them to your heart’s content in no time. Poke a hole in the bottom of each cup with a large needle and set the cups into a tray. (More on trays below.)

4. Food containers – From soup cans to tuna cans to mini fruit cans, the average household produces all kinds of metal seed starters. You will need to use a nail to poke drainage holes in these containers.

5. Candy boxes – All the Christmas, Valentine, and Easter candy boxes may be sitting around your house around seed-starting time. Many of these boxes have nice little chambers that you could use to start seeds, or simply use the boxes and box lids as trays.

6. Cardboard tubes – You can fold segments of cardboard tubes (toilet paper, paper towel) to make seedling containers. Cut toilet paper tubes in half and paper towel tubes in thirds. On one end, cut 4 slits equal in length and depth. Then fold these slits as you would a box top. Invert and there’s your seed cup!

7. Gift boxes – The holidays often provide a plethora of boxes, too. Shallow boxes work best and make good seed trays. You can line them with plastic wrap or foil to make them more water-resistant.

8. Chinese take-out containers – These plastic trays, round or square, make excellent, waterproof trays for your seedling containers.

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