Starting Seeds the Cheap and Easy Way

Garden 2013Gardening is still a very new thing to me. I don’t consider myself particularly good at it, but last year we increased our beds, added a ton of berry plants, and got several indoor citrus plants as well. I grow food. I preserve food. It’s going well, though I’m always working to do more.

I knew this year I wanted to try starting plants from seed to get a jump on the growing season (our peppers never really made it last year given the crazy temps, and I’m sick of buying expensive, non-organic starters from Home Depot). Right now is the ideal time to start seeds in our neck of the woods.

Eggshells for seedlingsHappily, I stumbled on a great idea online – that of using eggshells to start seedlings. Cheap, easy, and so “circle-of-life-y.” I was determined to do it. So… I saved up all the good ones we created for about 2 months… finally ending up with three egg cartons filled with little empty half-shells ready for planting.

I labeled each tray and kept track of what went where. Tray 1 contains two kinds of parsley (curly and flat-leaf) and two kinds of basil (sweet and lemon). Tray 2 has broccoli raab, regular broccoli, and cauliflower. Tray 3 has a row of plum tomatoes and a row of beefsteak.

We’ll see how it goes!

*    *    *

Seeds in eggshellsFor this project, you’ll need an egg carton (a cardboard one will likely work better than styrofoam), and eggshells to fill it. You can collect the shells over time (just rinse them out and place them in the carton until you’re ready to plant), and use as many cartons as you wish!

If you’d like to look up your planting guidelines, you can find great growing info for the US via The Old Farmer’s Almanac (just put in your location to get accurate frost dates for your area). If you want to figure out your zone (US), try the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

egg carton(s)
eggshell halves
pin (safety pin or straight pin)
seedling potting mix
plastic wrap

  1. Once you’ve got a carton filled with eggshell halves, gently prick the bottom of each shell 1-3 times with a pin. This will allow drainage, which is essential for your seeds.
  2. Transfer potting mix into a small bowl (perhaps 1/2 cup to 1 cup at a time). Wet so that mix is damp, but not soaking. Squeeze out excess water and remove that extra water from your bowl so that you are left with damp, sticky seedling potting mix.
  3. Fill each eggshell half with potting mix. Place 2-3 seeds (or 1 if you’re feeling bold) into each shell; then cover with a light layer of potting mix.
  4. Cover each tray with plastic wrap to help trap warmth and moisture. (Leave the plastic on until you see growth, at which point you can remove it.)
  5. Keep the trays in a sunny spot or under grow lights until you see the seeds beginning to spout. Once the plants have begun to grow and fill out a bit, you can trim back the weaker elements so that only one strong plant remains in each shell.
  6. Replant into a slightly larger pot with potting soil and continue to keep watered and well-lit until you can plant outdoors.
  7. Remember to harden off your plants before you put them in the ground outside!

4 responses to “Starting Seeds the Cheap and Easy Way

  1. The Editors of Garden Variety

    Awesome idea and a true money saver. Have you tried making pots from toilet paper rolls and newspapers?

  2. Pingback: It’s working! (starting seedlings in eggshells) | Do It Now + Green

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