If you are like me at all you are very frugal, some might say cheap and you are always looking for ways to make or turn something else into something that you need. One of the areas I am always trying to pinch the pennies is my garden. It’s very easier to go all out and buy all the best amendments and gizmos and gadgets to make gardening easier but that can blow a budget very quickly.
One of the most expensive annual events in the gardening calendar is the purchase of pre-started seedlings. Some people try to get around this by starting their own seedlings and this is a good idea but it’s very easy to overdo it here as well. By the time you buy the seeds, growing trays lamps, potting soil, water cans and everything else you will find you’ve spent a good chunk of change.
Some of these expenses are one time only or rare repeat purchases while others like the potting soil and seed trays are an annual purchase. The seed trays found for sale most places are flimsy plastic things that are very easy to break and really are not meant for repeat use. I personally do not care for single use containers since I do try to live by the reduce, reuse and recycle philosophy. So instead over the years I have used various other containers that I have repurposed for my uses as a seed starting cup.
My personal favorite method is to make a seed starting cups out of single serving yogurt containers. These work great because they are durable when compared to the commercial seed starting trays and with a little work can be make into great seed cups.
Since you are a frugal person I am assuming you have bought the yogurt on sale and have enjoyed some good yogurt while washing and saving the cups. Now that you have the yogurt cups you will take the drill and the small bit and drill 3-4 evenly spaced holes in the bottom of the yogurt cup. These holes are crucial as they allow excess water to drain out of the cup and they can be used to water and fertilize from the bottom.
These cups are now ready to fill with potting soil and seed. A variation on this is to use large family size yogurt containers. They can be prepared and drilled the same way as the small cups but with more drainage holes. One thing to keep in mind with the large containers is that they don’t wick water up as easily as the small ones so they will have to be watered from the top.
Plastic Water Bottles
Another good method that I have used is a plastic water bottle. The best ones are the darker colored bottles that provide a little more protection to the roots of the plants.
To prepare these bottles you will take the bottle and cut it in half with the knife. Now you can either recycle the top of the bottle or you can use it as a topper for the cup which turns it into a little green house. You will then drill a hole in each of the feet on the bottom of the bottle to provide the drainage the cup needs.
A variation on this is to use 2 liter pop bottles to create a larger bottle greenhouse which is great for plants like tomatoes, peppers and other hot weather plants.
Most egg cartons are made of a recycled paper or pulped materials that can be used to grow seedlings in. The paper materials they are made of is compostable so when you are ready to plant them into the garden they can be treated a lot like the compostable pots you get sometimes with commercially grown seedlings.
They are small however so you may not have enough space in them to grow large hardy seedlings. But since you can plant them straight into the ground that does cut down on the transplant shock that is associated with transplanting seedlings. Up until I plant I will leave the cartons whole and then cut them apart with when I put the seedlings into the ground.
For more ideas like this check out other articles that are available on the Green Living Library.
Hello my name is Josh Larson and I am the creator of the Green Living Library. Here on the blog you will find updates to content found in the Green Living Library as well as stories from those living the sustainable life already.