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Make Your Own Seed Trays and Pots

DIY Seed Trays and Pots


Spring has sprung! Or just about. You can tell because gardeners are starting their seeds inside. Soon the soil will be warm enough for your little babies to be planted in their permanent location. But first, you need to get them to sprout out of their shells. Any gardener knows that seed trays and pots can add up in cost. This is especially true if you buy them new each year, or even every few years. However, you can make your own seed trays and pots by recycling supplies you already have on hand. This is a “green” way to start your garden and it’s easy on the budget. Here are some ideas for homemade seedling trays and pots.


Plastic Containers

Big and small plastic containers work for planting seeds. Add drainage holes by pricking a nail through the bottom a few times and you are ready to go. Small, individual-sized yogurt cups are ideal but larger containers, such as sour cream containers, also work. Fill the cups with moistened potting soil and plant your seeds to the desired depths. The only drawback is that you have to disturb the seedling before you replant it. Cover the top of the container with one hand, turn it upside down and tap the bottom to free the seedling. If you are careful, you won’t damage the plant or roots. Use plastic pots for plants that are sturdier or will remain inside longer so that they have a stronger root system and more leaves before they are moved.


Newspaper Containers

Newspaper makes great seedling pots because it quickly decomposes when you plant it in the soil. This means you don’t have to disrupt the roots when you transplant it. Only use black and white newspapers. Never use glossy or colored newsprint because it adds too many chemicals into the soil. You can make newspaper containers in several ways:

1.      Origami newspaper pots:

·         Cut a single, broadsheet (the big newspapers) in half so you only have one page in front of you.

·         Lay it on a flat surface like you are going to read it. Fold it in half from top to bottom, along the natural fold.

·         Fold it from left to right.

·         Repeat the left to right fold and make a sharp crease. Then unfold only the last fold. The crease is used as a guideline.

·         Position the newspaper so the folded edge is closest to your body.

·         Grasp the bottom right corner and fold it toward the middle of the paper. The crease mark serves as a gage.

·         Open up the triangle fold that you just created by sliding your finger between the layers of paper and fanning it open. Take the top layer and move the corner over to the left side of the paper. This creates a flat triangle that lays over the entire piece of paper. It looks similar to a boat sail, if you were to make an origami boat.

·         Turn the paper over and repeat on the other side to create a second triangle. Now you have a triangle that resembles a newspaper hat.

·         Hold the triangle in the air so you can see the four layers of the triangle. Invert the four layers so that they lay flat when you put them on the table.

·         Position the paper so that the wide, flat base of the triangle is closest to your body. Find on outside, bottom corner and fold it into the center crease. Make a crease. Fold the same piece of paper in on itself to the center crease. Repeat on the other side.

·         Turn the paper over and repeat the previous step. The paper will look like a pointed arrow.

·         Lift the paper up so that the point is facing down. Fold over each side about 2 inches on itself.

·         Slide your fingers between the layers and open the pot out. You’ll have a square shape that you can fill with potting soil and seeds.

2.      Paper Molds:

·         Shred black and white newspaper and add it to a blender.

·         Pour a small amount of water into the blender, half a cup at a time.

·         Turn the blender on and allow it to mix up the paper.

·         Push the paper down the sides with a spatula as needed.

·         Add more water to the mix as needed.

·         Continue working the paper in the blender until you get a thick, pulpy mass.

·         Drain any excess water

·         Add two tablespoons of the blended paper to each cup in a muffin tray. Use more for a large muffin cups and less for smaller cups.

·         Push the paper around the muffin cups until they cover the cups’ surface.

·         Leave the tray to dry for 24 hours.

·         Pop the newspaper cups out of the tray, fill with soil and use as you would another seed pot.


Egg Shells Containers

This is an interesting way to start seeds inside. Cut the tops off the largest raw eggs you can find. Use a serrated knife and saw the top one-quarter of the egg off. This is tricky. You’ll need a gentle, slow, steady pressure to do it successfully. Empty the contents out of the egg and rinse out the shell. Let the shell dry then fill it with soil and add a seed. These are not large, so they work best with small plants or plants that won’t be inside for long. Plant the shells directly into the ground.


Egg Cartons

Cardboard egg cartons are possibly the ideal, recycled material for seed trays. They are biodegradable, free and don’t need a lot of work. Simply fill them with soil, add a seed and water them. The lid can also be used as a wide tray, although the seeds won’t be separated. When you are ready, cut each eggcup away from the carton and plant it directly in the ground.


Some people use the styrofoam egg cartons as seed trays because the lids help conserve moisture when they are closed over the seeds. However, Styrofoam is extremely hard on the environment and shouldn’t be purchased for this project. 

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