Making Plant Containers Using Household Items
Plant Starter Sets
Fun Project for the Family or Just For You
Starting an indoor garden can lift your spirits and get you ready for the beauty of spring. Using your own containers and harvested seeds, starting a vegetable garden is easy. Begin indoors at winter's end by raiding your trash for sturdy plastic bottles, milk jugs, egg cartons, yogurt cups, small glass jars and any usable container.
Using quality potting soil from the dollar store, fill each container about 3/4 full, poke in a few seeds, add some water and place the containers in a drip pan. Empty Swiffer pans fit nicely in a sunny window sill or use a cardboard box bottom from canned goods. Be sure to mark the date and type of seed planted in each container. Within days you should see sprouts.
Using Egg Cartons to Start SeedsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Tips for Containers
- Cardboard egg cartons, plastic sports drink bottles and empty yogurt containers are great for starting seedlings.
- Cut off the lid of the egg carton and use it underneath as a drain tray.
- Poke a hole in the bottom of each compartment for proper drainage.
- Mark the date and type of seed on the flap.
- Fill each compartment with potting soil removing any debris like bark or sticks.
- Use the end of a pencil or a chopstick to push the seeds into the soil to the recommended depth for that particular seed.
Tips for Using Plastic Bottles for ContainersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Making Containers from Plastic Bottles
Plastic sports drink bottles make great containers.
- Rinse out any residue from the bottles
- On a firm surface like a cutting board, cut off the upper portion of the bottle with a serrated knife. Trim off any rough edges with scissors.
- To soften the top edge of the container, use an old steam iron on medium heat.
- Set the iron on the rim of the separated lower half of the bottle.
- Gentle pressure will round off any sharp edges and prevent damage if plants rub against the edge.
- Careful. The rim needs to cool down before use.
Thinning Out the Sprouts
Seedlings need to be thinned out before planting outdoors. Clip off the extra sprouts with scissors at the ground line or if you're careful, you can separate the seedlings into individual plants. Transfer each seedling into a larger container when they're about an inch tall and they start growing secondary leaves.
Seedlings Transplanted to Plastic BottlesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Separating the Sprouts
- Carefully remove the sprouts from the egg carton using a plastic spoon.
- Fill a larger container about 3/4 full of soil and make a deep hole using a pencil or a chopstick.
- Gently glide each seedling into the hole adding more soil to cover the roots.
- Add a small amount of water and more soil as needed to stand up the sprout.
- Place in a draft free place under a light if possible until the seedlings take hold.
- Once the plants grow secondary leaves, move them outside in the sun. Bring them inside if temperatures drop at night.
Dried Seeds from Favorite Vegetables
Seed Saving from Ordinary Vegetables
You'd be surprised at the number of vegetables that will start growing from their own seeds. Tomato is a favorite that sprouts with little persuasion. So does cantaloupe, lemon, watermelon, bell pepper and other regular veggies bought at the store.
Start by separating the seeds from the pulp and membrane that surrounds them. This can be done by submerging them in water or in a strainer under cool running water. Arrange them individually on a paper towel and let them dry for a couple of days. Once dry, you can peel them off the paper and store them in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
How to Prepare Your Own Seeds for StorageClick thumbnail to view full-size
- Remove the pulp and membrane from around tomato, cantaloupe, and pumpkin seeds by rinsing under cool water.
- Place them on paper towels to dry.
- Store the dry seeds in jars with tight fitting lids.
- Label the jars by type of seed and year collected.
Plant the seedlings in an area of prepared soil after all danger of frost is over for your area. Consult a Farmer's Almanac or online reference source to learn the best times for planting certain types of vegetables.
Gardening is a great way to relieve stress, enjoy the outdoors and breathe in the fresh air of spring. Using starter seeds and recycled containers, you can grow a nice crop of fresh vegetables for a small investment of your time and money.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Peg Cole