Monday, March 29, 2010

Use Office Trash to Start your Veggie Garden- Free Seed Starters

Store-bought seed starters and incredibly overpriced and impractical. Many seed starting kits only provide a tiny cell for your seedling. The plant will quickly outgrow the pod, creating more work for you in the long run.

 Gardening teaches patience. It took three months for my Speckled Roman Tomato to Germinate.

Most of us are too busy to continuously transplant seedlings, so instead of using store-bought seed starters I use roomier seed starters that I gather for free. I've been gathering "Trash" from my office and using it to start my vegetable garden. Here's what to look out for:

Empty Plastic Water/Soda Bottles: Rinse out your bottle, then cut it in half. Place the top part of the bottle into the bottom portion. This makes a seed starter with its own reservoir of water- reducing the need for constant watering. This is great for seedlings in a dry spot, or for seedlings with high water demands.

Empty Soda Cans: This makes a pretty planter for typography and graphic designers nerds. I love the sight of a fresh green seedling popping out of a soda can! Cut off the top of the can- watch out, the edges will be sharp. You might want to fold the edges down to prevent a cut. (Or you can fold them out and make a flower design). Poke holes at the bottom to provide drainage for the seedling.

Used Styrofoam Cups: These are my favorite seed starters. I reuse Styrofoam coffee cups from the office. It's easy to poke holes in the bottom of these cups, and I can write the name of the seed very clearly on the front of the cup.
Take-out Platters with lids: Large take-out platters can make great planters in and of themselves. I like to use them as clotches, or mini green houses. These protects the seedlings and even helps accelerates their growth.

Take-out Containers: Small Take-Out Containers make great planters and clotches.

More Garden Recycling Ideas for the Office:

-Save paper to shred for the a compost pile

-Save Newspaper to line the bottoms of raised beds and to add to compost and vermicompost heaps.

-Save Cardboard boxes for making frugal garden pathways. These also are great for composting and lining the bottom of raised beds.

-Save plastic forks and spoons to refuse and seed labels. You can place the label in the fork or write on the knives, forks, and/or spoons themselves.

I love how vegetable gardening inspires frugality and creativity. One normal sized office should provide you with more seed-starting containers than you could ever use! What bits of "trash" do you reuse in the garden?


  1. Amen sister! Although I have had trouble getting plants out of containers made of out plastic soda bottles. This is the last season I buy seed starting pots as I have become a newspaper pot convert.
    Also, the USDA uses potassium hypo-chloride (household bleach) to germinate their stubborn seeds; you know, for those times when you absolutely, positively need your tomato plant to germinate before three months :)

  2. I'll have to look into the bleach thing! Maybe three months is an exaggeration, but I swear I had those seeds in the pots since Early February and they didn't pop out until about two weeks ago...


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