14 Clever Ways to Start Seeds
Get growing with these fun, inexpensive seed-starting projects.
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Start Seeds From Practically Anything
From eggshells to pots to paper towels, you can start your seasonal veggies, herbs and flowers in containers you have lying around the house.
Newspaper Seed-Starter Pots
After you finish reading the Sunday paper, create newspaper seed pots that can be planted directly into the ground. Fold the newspaper strips up and around the outside of a small glass to make a miniature pot, then remove the glass, add soil and seeds. Keep the paper pots in a tray near a sunny window until it’s warm enough to plant outside.
Reuse Seed Trays
Recycle last year's seedling trays and flats to start seeds. Just starting out? Most garden centers and stores sell trays for low prices—but don't be afraid to ask your garden-savvy neighbors if they have extras lying around.
Use Small Pots
Small pots are great for large seeds, like beans, peas and squash, that require fewer plants in your garden. Make sure to turn pots sitting in windowsills so the seedlings grow evenly.
Try Cardboard Tubes
Try using old toilet paper or paper towel tubes for a budget seed-starting option. Gayla Trail, HGTV contributor and garden authority, recommends using old cardboard tubes for starting finicky plants that don't transplant well like beans, sunflower and dill.
Start Seeds in Old Food Containers
Use recycled drink cartons filled with potting soil to grow a variety of spring salad crops. Just make sure the cartons have drainage holes in the bottom.
Don't Throw Out Your Lunch Container
Poke holes in freshly-washed plastic containers and fill with soil to start leafy greens, herbs and veggies. If you have the proper conditions—a warm, sunny windowsill—you can even continue to grow herbs and salad greens indoors.
A Milk Jug Living Wall
Old milk and juice jugs can be used to start seeds, and even create a mini-greenhouse by cutting into the jug to fashion a vessel with a hinged lid. Recycled jugs are great for making a fun, inexpensive vertical garden.
Start Seeds in Eggshells
Use Dollar Store Finds
A deep, plastic tub from the toy aisle is great for starting root vegetables like beets. Make sure to thin out the seedlings to allow enough room for the roots to grow properly.
Don't Forget About Tubers!
Early and main crop potatoes can be sprouted inside before planting in the garden—this process is known as “chitting.” Arrange undamaged potatoes, with eyes uppermost, in egg boxes or seed trays in light in a cool, but a frost-free room.
Sow Seeds on a Paper Towel
Damp paper towels, napkins and coffee filters can all be used to germinate seeds, or even test if seeds are viable—just place seeds on a damp paper towel, place in a plastic bag and store in a cool, dark place to encourage rapid growth. Once the seedlings sprout, transfer them into loose potting soil.