It is the time of the year when many gardeners start to get restless and and our minds turn to thoughts of spring and summer in our gardens. To get us through these tough times we start sowing seeds indoors and raise the sprouts in the hopes that they'll be bigger plants that we can plant into our gardens and or containers in the spring and watch them grow into full-sized annuals, perennials, edibles and tropicals. Gardeners are pretty creative in the methods they use to start seeds and have come up with many different tricks to save money in the seed sowing process. We grow seeds in plastic bottles, sprout seeds in plastic sandwich bags, roll newspaper pages into seed pots, use paper tubes and eggshells to grow seeds.
Other items that can be put into your seed sowing arsenal are plastic containers that you get fast food in or food items from your deli or bakery. I recently came across this plastic container for cupcakes and as I was about to throw it away it dawned on me that I could keep it and use it to sow seeds. This makes a perfect paper tube seed pot holder because the container is made of a really durable plastic and the circles are almost the same size as the paper tube seed pots. The lid seals the containers pretty well and is a safeguard in case your seed pots should ever tip over. Another benefit of this plastic container is of course that it is transparent allowing light but it has a flat top so you can stack several of these on top of each other. I like the ability to stack them because they take up less space and I can shuffle the seed pots to the top of the stack as the seeds inside germinate.
Here, a close-up view of the paper tube seed pot holder shows that I've cut the paper tubes into three inch lengths to give some head space so that the seeds don't touch the plastic cover when they sprout.
The seed starting "soil" I'm using here is actually coconut husk that has been finely shredded. If it doesn't look familiar to you it may be because it is mostly seen as a dry circular disk that you get in products like Amaryllis bulb kits. I don't like to use it to grow my bulbs in so I keep the disks around and use them as my seed starting soil. You can also find the same material in pet stores sold as bedding for reptiles. It is pretty affordable and comes in a brick form that you submerse in water to make it expand. It works just like the peat pellets you'll find in garden centers and garden catalogs except it is very sustainable unlike the peat. When preparing my paper tube seed pots I like to moisten the seed starting "soil" not only because you have to with the coconut fiber but because it allows me to pack in the soil and make sure that each paper tube is filled tightly with soil. This will help a little keep your paper tube seed pots together longer.
This is just a terracotta pot with several paper tubes inside of it. I found it like this in one of the bathrooms. I had accidentally left the empty pot in a spare bathroom when I was bring in plants this past fall and had forgotten about it. A week or so later I went looking in the bathroom for the lost pot and found it stuffed with paper tubes. No, I don't have a helpful family-they're just lazy.
What are your seed starting tips and tricks?
Plastic bottle seed starter.
Sandwich bag seed starter.
Seed starter pot from newspaper.
Homemade seed pots.