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13.1.08

Homemade Seed Pots

Most gardeners have already been scouring seed catalogs for a few weeks and in the coming weeks and months gardeners will buy seeds from seed racks at garden centers. Every gardener has their preferred method of seed starting and what seed pots they use. Frugal gardeners have know for a long time that many items around the house can be converted into homemade seed pots. Everyday household items can be made into seed pots as long as they can hold soil and have some drainage. I did a post on making seed pots from rolling a sheet of newspaper, you can start seeds in a plastic sandwich bag or make a seed starter from a soda bottle. If you aren't familiar with those cheap ways of starting seeds take a moment to read those links and add that seed starting information to your gardening arsenal.



Peat pellets and peat pots have a long history of being used as seed pots especially among organic gardeners. But peat isn't the most environmentally friendly product and many suppliers like GrowOrganic.com are providing coco (made from coconuts) coir seed pellets as an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative. I'll provide a cheaper tip below.

Homemade organic Seed pots. Eggshell potEggshells are a classic homemade seed pot. Empty eggshells that have been rinsed out and carefully broken to hold a few spoonfuls of potting soil or seed starting mix make interesting seed pots. Remember to clean out the eggshell seed pot by rinsing it and setting it aside to dry. It would be a good idea to poke a small drainage hole at the base of the eggshell so your soil or seed mix doesn't become waterlogged. If you buy your eggs in a cardboard carton you can also use the carton as a seed pot or simply use it as a way to prop up your eggshell seed pots so they don't tip over or roll around. Once your seeds have sprouted and they're ready to be planted in the garden you can plant your eggshell seed pot in the ground; you can give the young roots and seedling a little help by crushing the eggshell seed pot.


homemade organic seed pots. Toilet roll seed potInstead of discarding the cardboard toilet paper rolls you can easily turn them into homemade seed pots by filling them with soil or seed starting mix. Like the eggshell seed pot the cardboard roll seed pot is an environmentally friendly seed pot that you can plant directly in the garden once the growing season begins in your area. If you still have the empty cardboard rolls that held your wrapping paper in place they can also be used to create seed pots. I kind of prefer the wrapping paper cardboard seed pot because it is more durable and doesn't become soft so soon. With these seed pots there is no need to create a drainage hole since both sides of the cardboard tube are open. Keep your paper tube seed pots a minimum of three inches in length so when the seed sprouts there will be plenty of soil for the roots to grow into. If you cut your tubes too short you may find it hard to keep your seed pots moist and your seedlings growing.

Yogurt cups, Styrofoam cups, butter/cream cheese tubs and takeout containers also make good homemade seed pots. Just remember to poke holes in the bottom of the container and choose durable plastics that can last as seed pots for a couple of years.

I personally use a general houseplant potting mix to start all of my seeds but others may use a specific seed starting soil mix. The one thing I've learned after a few years of growing from seeds is to prep the soil mix I'm using with a little bit of perlite and to moisten the soil mix before using it. If you enlarge the eggshell seed pot image above you may notice that the soil mix is dark. That's because I moistened it before spooning it into the eggshell and cardboard roll seed pots. Lightly wetting the soil mix for my seeds makes it easier to handle so I waste less and can water easier than if the mix was dry.

The peat pellets tip I mentioned.

Both peat and coco fiber seed starting pellets are good products with their advantages but their drawback to me is price. The seed starting page for Burpee has 48 peat pellets selling for under nine dollars and the coco coir pellets can start at fifteen cents per seed pellet. While good products with their pros and cons I'd rather spend the money on buying seeds. If you visit your local pet supply store you can buy a brick of coco coir for few dollars. The Coco fibers is sold as reptile bedding and is even used by terrarium builders as a soil. If you buy a large brick and stuff either the cardboard roll or the eggshell seed pods with the moistened fiber it is basically the same thing as a peat or coco coir pellet, except it will cost you less.

If you're curious the seeds in the examples above are some Amaryllis seeds I'm currently sowing.

More Seed Starting Tips:
Paper tube seed pots holder
Seed starting in plastic soda bottles
Seed starting in plastic baggies
Seed starter pots from news paper
Home made seed pots
When I collect nasturtium seeds
When I collect Pineapple Lily seeds
When I collect Cypress Vine Seeds

69 comments:

  1. I have never thought of eggshells as containers. Very neat! I have used egg cartons, butter bins, Styrofoam cups and carboard tubes for homemade containers.

    I dislike peat pots. They tend to break down slowly. Heck I pulled some plants up last weekend with a whole peat pot attached still.

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  2. I love these kind of practical tips.

    Did I read too fast, your did you overlook my favorite - pressed paper egg cartons. Handy little 12 packs and they decompose pretty nicely.

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  3. You've given some excellent seed pot ideas. I often use yogurt cups to start seeds and have also used egg cartons. The cardboard rolls are also a terrific idea.

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  4. Wow, not only practical ideas, but quirky fun. I might like guests coming over and seeing plants emerging from broken eggshells--reminds me of Jurassic Park or Alien or something.

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  5. never thought about using eggs! god post.

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  6. I switched from peat to perlite about a year ago, and I love it. I use it as well to start seeds. It has worker wonders, and I will never use peat again. I should add that I don't use just coir, I use perlite and orchid mix as well. I am finding that plants grown in the peaty mix, are starting to go downhill, and they have only been in peat for about a year.

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  7. I've used coir for years now--those bricks go a long way!--and generally mix it half-half in with finely screened bagged compost. I have had absolutely no problems with it at all, and I love that it comes in bricks instead of those little pellets. I just moisten a brick in a bucket and keep it in the kitchen (yeah, I pot up stuff in the kitchen near the sink) until my seed-starting days are done for the year.

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  8. The eggshells are a great idea. The grandkids are going to love watching their seeds hatch.

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  9. Pretty cool! I really like the eggshell pot idea--especially for those calcium loving peppers and tomatoes! When you re-pot or transplant them, I suppose you'd just crush the shell a bit a stick the whole thing in the new dirt?

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  10. Love the natural look of eggshells too. Very pleasing. The paper tubes I hadn't heard of but love that as well.
    I snagged our clear plastic deli tray with a deep clear lid from the school trash can since they are 16 inches wide (round) and maybe 5 inches deep. Talk about a mini greenhouse! Easy to use for those easy to transplant varieties.

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  11. All excellent ideas!
    I've used egg cartons, but never considered eggshells. Cardboard tubes are smart too.

    I've also used soda bottles w/the tops cut off. They do the job well enough, but the bottoms are often curved, and it can be hard to pry the plant out when transplanting. Yogurt cups are great, and so are milk cartons and the trays mushrooms are sold in at the grocery store.

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  12. I'm just now making my blog rounds after a busy holiday season with family. I've enjoyed reading your last few posts. I love the coir bricks. I added some to my large outside planters last year to help conserve moisture and it did help.
    Newspaper pots seem to dry out too fast in my experience...do you know a way to keep them moist?

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  13. Great info. Thanks for posting.
    Aiyana

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  14. What a great ideas. I usualy use yogurt pots or cakes pots, but now I have more alternatives.
    The way you put amaryllis seeds is very curious, usualy I put them totaly covered with compost.

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  15. I tried eggshells last year and got very poor results. None of the plants I tried, even lime lovers like zinnias, did as well as those planted in more orthodox seed trays. So I've abandoned it.

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  16. Thanks for the great tips. Cheap is good! I like cheap!

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  17. What a great idea using egg shells and toilet rolls. Thanks so much for the great ideas.
    Sara from farmingfriends

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  18. You always have such interesting postings! Thanks for the ideas and information. :-)

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  19. I had such a great time making newspaper pots last year that I'll be using them again this year.

    Egg shells are a good idea too - I'm going to start saving those.

    Great ideas as always, MBT!

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  20. Eggshells? Good grief. That would be a LOT of scrambled eggs and quiche for all the seeds I sprout. But those bricks, on the other hand, sound like a nifty idea. Now, just to use up all those peat pellets I have saved up.

    --Robin (Bumblebee)

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  21. Great ideas for starting seeds...and very practical too!!
    Thanks for sharing,
    Best wishes.

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  22. Thank you for the great practical tips.
    I have used egg cartons before but I have never used eggs.

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  23. What a great post on seed starting. It rivals anything I've seen in the mags. Great job.

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  24. Last year I used some of those compressed peat pellets that you moisten and they swell to three times the original height.

    When I pulled up plants in the fall, the netting that held the peat in place had very few roots poking through. I think the plants would have been much bigger if they'd had a better root structure.

    This year I'm using little plastic and styrofoam cups with half inch slashes along the sides to the bottom rather than a hole in the very bottom.

    I save plastic strawberry containers -- the kind with an attached lid -- which have slots already for drainage and the lid holds in moisture for starting seeds which will be soon transplanted to a larger container like a yogurt cup, also with side-to-bottom slashes.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous3:25 PM

      I realize this comment was sometime ago but I wouldn't want anything I grow that I intend to eat grown in plastic. The off gassing as it decomposes is really bad for you so it can't be any better for your plants!

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  25. I've been saving our cardboard paper rolls all winter. Thanks for the tip on the brick of coco coir! I was wondering if there was a cheaper way to get that!

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  26. This is great! I'm definitely going to try a couple of these. Thanks for the tips!

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  27. that is the cutest thing i've ever seen. if i had an asian bistro i'd be lining the walls with rows of 'em.

    please promise you'll photograph them a few more times before they're transplanted. the egg fetishists thank you!

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  28. Thanks these were great tips for my spring garden. I liked the eggshell ideas. Nice.

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  29. Just wondering where you are ... I miss your posts.

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  30. What Kate and mr_subjunctive said.
    I keep checking back, hoping for a new post.
    Aiyana

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  31. Same as above... hoping you're okay, or just maybe have a case of the winter blahs, that will end soon?

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  32. Great ideas for seed starting pots! We usually buy enough bedding plants and keep the multi plastic planters so we have more than enough pots for planting the few seeds I buy.

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  33. I have already started saving toilet paper rolls....lol. I do this every year, and never end up using them. Wonderful tips. Can't wait for some new posts!!

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  34. Hi from Austin, Mr Brown Thumb - like many of your other blog friends I just wanted to say hello and hope you are okay.

    Annie

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  35. You are being hugely missed.

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  36. Mr Brown Thumb, you're scaring me now. Please...we miss you and we are worried about you!

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  37. Hi.. I am hoping all is well with you. Take care... Come back soon!!!!

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  38. I keep checking in now and then to see if you're around... ?? I hope all is well with you!

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  39. I will echo the others in wishing you well, and hoping that "real life" is going too well for blog-time. Regardless, I hope your spring is coming along nicely, and you will return to the blogosphere. :)

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  40. I just want to echo everyone else in hoping you're okay. You are sorely missed, MBT.

    I've been here a few times now, sure that you must be posting and that my Google Reader just wasn't picking it up somehow. But, you haven't answered my emails either, and now I'm really worried.

    If you're around, and just sick of blogging, or taking an extended break (which I get---I've gone AWOL from my blog plenty of times!) can you maybe let us know that you're okay?

    If the unthinkable has happened, and MBT isn't able to post here himself, can someone who knows him in "real life" leave a comment and let us know what's going on?

    I've written and deleted this comment about six times now, because I don't want to seem nosy or pushy. This is such a close-knit community, it's scary when one of our friends suddenly goes silent.

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  41. Hi... Could someone please let us know if everything is ok with Mr.Brown Thumb...

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  42. I e-mailed too, a few weeks ago, and didn't hear anything back.

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  43. I hope the reason for your absence is due to something stupid like loss of internet. Hope you're around and doing good.

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  44. PlantBuddy10:44 AM

    Hi everybody! I'm an indoor gardener who loves all houseplants. Grow on a windowsil and under lights. I remember the eggshell idea from school. We always planted seeds in them at Eastertime and they always sprouted. I'm using the mini yogurt cups as drainage for my big containers. Love to recycle whenever I can.

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  45. Hi Mr. Brown Thumb :

    I've sent an email to you but haven't got a reply. It's not like you to just stop blogging suddenly without good reason. I do want to echo all your garden blogging friend's good wishes and hopes that you are well.

    Let us hear from you if you get this message.

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  46. I love these ideas! I do the same thing by bringing home any plastic to go food cartons, reusing the Styrofoam trays that come with meat from the grocery store, egg cartons, and pretty much any container that comes across my path...I feel good about re purposing and it saves me money!

    Oh, and don't forget that gallon milk jugs can be cut and used as cloches...

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  47. Wow, I just now read to the bottom of the comments...hope MBT is OK, too...

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  48. Just so you know, Mr. Brown Thumb is alive and well and will no doubt blog again one day soon. He was having some computer-related problems.

    Hurry back, MBT , you're many friends and fans miss ya : )

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  49. Oh, I'm so glad to hear that!!!! Hurry back, MBT!

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  50. good run down on some simple and cheap starting methods - I've never started an amaryllis, maybe I should try that sometime!

    I really like to use straight coco coir and perlite for my mature amaryllis plants with hydroponic nutrients. I have been very impressed with the blooms I have been able to achieve.

    Here are some pictures of my first amaryllis blooms along with my houseplant philosophy. Here is a picture of my most recent blooms along with a picture of some orchid trouble I'm experiencing. If anyone would like to render a diagnosis, feel free!

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  51. How much you wanna bet that he has hundreds of entries jotted down along with some pictures all backed up and waiting to be posted? ;)

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  52. WHEW!!!! I kept checking and checking... thanks for the GREAT NEWS Carolyn Gail! (Sorry to hear that you've had computer issues, though, Mr. Brownthumb. That does suck.)

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  53. Happy to hear it!! Thanks, Carolyn!

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  54. Hopefully you'll be back up and posting again! Your blog is what got me into garden blogs...but when I first started reading in January it just seemed you stopped posting. I came to your blog because I was trying to find a good method of using bottles as seed starters. Thanks to you, now I read 60+ garden blogs, I'm all into it now...lol.

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  55. I am so glad to know that you are doing well.. Waiting to read your post.. Hurry up...

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  56. Can you believe your fan club, MBT?
    We've certainly missed your posts!!

    Thanks, Carolyn, for catching up with him.

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  57. elisa2:48 AM

    What a lovely blog! Great design!

    Thanks so much for this post - so many great ideas!

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  58. Great ideas! I personally purchased my self a couple gifts that keep on giving- soil block makers! Once you make the initial purchase they are worth it! Plants started in these are naturally air pruned and when they go in the ground they really take off! here is a link.

    http://shrinkify.com/65e

    http://shrinkify.com/65f

    and i hope someday to get- but not necessary

    http://shrinkify.com/5gh

    Tessa

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  59. I'm going to be attempting a garden this year- thanks for the helpful info!

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  60. Here's a new take on these, from a gardener at MyFolia-- she creates a bottom for them! So clever.

    http://myfolia.com/journals/51674#comments

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  61. I just tossed out some paper rolls and now I am kicking myself. Had no idea I could use those. I just purchased a large bag of house potting soil and was dreading buying the seed starter trays. Now I will need to head to the Christmas closet to see if I have some extra cardboard tubes. I will be saving my eggshells too. Thank you so much for your help.

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  62. Love it, can't wait to try this weekend.

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  63. Love,love, love these ideas. Can't wait to try.

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  64. I bought paper cups from the dollar store (without the wax on the inside). Can snip them right off when ready to plant.

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  65. I used paper cups from the dollar store (w/out wax in the inside). You can easily snip off the bottom of the cup when ready to transplant.

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Hi!

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