Thursday, January 29, 2009

Making a Seed Starter from Recyclables

I saw this idea on the web somewhere and I thought that rather than spend money on peat pots this year, I’d try it. All you need is a few toilet paper or paper towel rolls, a plastic greens container, a spoon, scissors and a bag of potting soil to do this project.




1) Cut the toilet rolls in half with a big pair of scissors. Or use paper towel rolls – you can get about 4 pots from one of these.

2) Fold the ends of the roll in. This will help hold in the soil, but will still make it easy for the water to absorb.


3) Set the rolls in the plastic tray.

4) Fill the rolls with spoonfuls of potting soil or compost til they reach about ½ inch from the top edge.

5) Make a small indentation in the soil with the end of a pencil and put your seed in the hole. Cover lightly with soil.

6) You can pour water directly into the plastic crate or tray so that the rolls absorb moisture from the bottom.


7) If your tray has a plastic lid (mine got lost) putting it down will help the seeds retain moisture and protect them, or you can cover with plastic wrap.


8) Keep in a warm place until germination, then provide a good light source until time to transplant.


9) When it’s time to transplant, you can open up the bottom and plant the entire pot without disturbing the seedling.

I’m also starting some seeds in a old Clementine crate.
Depending on how the wood holds up, I may leave them in there . I’ll bet there are lots of other containers that could be recycled to start plants. There are some great ideas on Poor Richards Almanac. Our school has used old yogurt containers with a hole poked in the bottom. What about paper egg cartons? Has anyone tried those? I may try to do this with my son’s classroom this year.

19 comments:

tina said...

What a good idea!

Avid Reader said...

such a great idea!

Joanne said...

Nice idea, but I let Leonard's Greenhouse do my seedstarting. When the Jet Stars are seedlings, I'm knocking at the door, ready to set in the warm soil ;)

Darla said...

Great, great ideas here. Thanks, everyone needs to save money.

tut-tut said...

Now I know where and how I'll start my seeds.

Here's another idea, from L's godmother I just received in an e-mail:

"I was thinking about planting as I was wallpapering and then the thought came to me that the long deep water container that the rolls of wallpaper are put in would be a good thing to plant lettuce in. So I think I will go out soon and secure at least a couple of them to try it out."

dennis said...

Dennis likes peas and string beans. Will you be planting peas or string beans?

Karen said...

Nice project to do with kids, I may try it. Also have read about making newspaper seed pots, that seems a little more labor intensive but also maybe a good family project. Thanks for the inspiration!

our friend Ben said...

Great idea and great step-by-steps, Jen! Who could resist trying it? And let us know how the wood in the clementine crate holds up. It will be a beautiful seed-starter, anyway! I can just picture it full of young lettuces or tomatoes. Gorgeous! Last but not least, thanks for linking to Poor Richard's!!!

LazyMom said...

I love the toilet paper rolls. I did buy a little tool from Burpee's last year that can turn newspaper into seedling pots--it was fun to get the right headlines and photos on the pots. Of course, what was truly cool is that you can plant the whole thing in the spring.
I was just reading a book about starting plants from seeds and apparently egg cartoons are not good because you need 3 inches for the roots...

Fern @ Life on the Balcony said...

That's a good idea to put all of the little seed pots in a plastic container. I'll have to dig around and see if I have something suitable...

Pam J. said...

I can't wait to do this! Thanks for the instructions. I usually love the winters but I'm getting very eager for this one to end.

nestinstyle said...

That is such a great, and creative, ideas to reuse TP rolls.

blossom said...

Hey neat! Thanks for sharing ..

Kitt said...

Clever! Except all my rolls to this point have gone to the kitty shelter for kitten toys.

I'm in Joanne's camp these days: I buy my seedlings at planting time, or direct-sow in the garden. If I had time or space though!

JGH said...

Tina and Avid - I just hope it works! Wish I could remember where I first saw this so I can give them credit.

OK Joanne, what's a JetStar? A kind of tomato? (I know you're a tomato grower!)

Hi Darla - you are right about that. Everyone is tightening the belt right now.

Tut - thanks! So it's a long thing that would hold a roll of wallpaper right? Like maybe they carry at Lowes? Love this idea.

Dennis, I wasn't planning on string beans this year, but maybe I'll plant a couple vines just for you ;-)

Karen, I'd love to see how to make newspaper pots, too.

JGH said...

Ben, now I'm thinking the Clementine crate is too shallow. Maybe I'll add some more dirt.

Lazymom- you'll have to demonstrate your Burpee gadget. Good to know about the 3 inch rule.

Fern, you can probably put them in a baking dish as long as they're not to close to the shady edges, don't you think?

Pam - so glad you want to try it!

Nestinstyle & blossom - thanks and welcome!

Kitt, I'm a seedling buyer too, but I usually try to start just a few. Hope I'm more successful this year. Haven't had too much luck in the past. Space is definitely a problem since I don't even have a very sunny window.

Sue said...

I have a seed starting set I bought a number of years ago, and haven't used. Once I use that, I hope to remember your cool way. I love reusing things!

JGH said...

Hey Sue and welcome! So is your seed starter the kind you plant along with the seedlings? Some kinds are re-usable, though. I really should order one of those heated trays one of these days.

new york city garden said...

I'm doing the tp and pt tube thing too. Why not, but I am trying it without the folded bottom.