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Contain Your Excitement: Creative Containers for Starting Seeds - by Holly Simpson, Sales Associate

Purchasing plastic flats and trays can be expensive if you are starting your own seedlings for the garden and want to pinch a few pennies.  It can be more cost-effective and even a little satisfying to rummage through your recycling bin (or your compost bin) for potentially useful household items that will transform into containers for starting garden vegetables.  This method can also give new life to food containers that may not be recyclable.

If you have a lot of egg cartons kicking around, whether they are cardboard, Styrofoam or plastic, they make perfect growing vessels.  Cut the egg container in half and prick holes in the bottom section for good drainage and for the roots to have room to push through the form.  Then add soil from your compost bin or use a general purpose starter soil mix like Vermont Compostís Fort V.  You can line the scalloped bottom of the carton with a plastic grocery bag and then use the top part that you removed earlier as a tray to catch water underneath and act as a support for the cells after you have watered, as they do become soft and weak when wet.  Another option would be to use the top part as a separate container. Sow your seeds and make sure to water regularly but use caution so the egg container wonít get water logged.  Place in a sunny window, greenhouse or under a cold-frame to grow.  When ready to transplant, it is okay to plant cardboard along with the plant but the Styrofoam or plastic will not disintegrate in the soil.

Crafting seed starting pots from newsprint is also a quick and effective method.  Take a jelly jar or a baby food jar and wrap several layers of newspaper around the jar tightly to form a cylinder.  Tuck ends up into the middle to create a vessel, remove the jar and add your growing medium.  Repeat this until you have 6 or 8 of these or enough to fill a seedling flat or baking tray from end to end.  They will support each other in the tray.  Newspaper pots work best for transplants that grow very quickly as they do break down with excess moisture.  You can also follow these steps, elimination the need for any jars, using toilet paper or paper towel cores.

Picking through the compost may not be the most inviting thing to do, but if you plan ahead for a day or so before planting, there are a couple of food items that prove to be very functional.  Eggshells will supply your seedlings with plenty of nutrients.  Carefully crack the top third of the egg by tapping with a sharp knife or on the edge of a bowl.  Empty the eggshells and wash.  Sterilize in boiling water, if you feel the need to. Poke a hole in the bottom with a tack for drainage.  Fill each egg with potting soil and set in a cardboard egg container.  Sow your seeds and then make a quiche or an omelet with the eggs used.  Another suggestion would be to use avocado skins as a little pot for seedlings.  Scrape out and rinse gently.  Fill with potting soil and sow seeds.  With either the eggshell pot or the avocado skin, just transplant the whole item into the prepared soil.

Creative containers are easier to find than you may think.  The key word is creative.  Use yogurt containers, soda and milk bottles with the tops cut off, and plastic food containers from produce such as berries or grapes or sturdy food items on their way to the compost bin.  Take-out rice boxes are especially water resistant with their waxy coating.  Anything will do, provided that you clean the food residues thoroughly out and poke drainage holes in the bottom of each before planting. 

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