Recycling used household items to start seeds isn’t only friendly to our environment, since so much stuff is thrown in landfills, but it also saves money. It’s common knowledge that many food items can be used in the compost bin, but there are everyday household items that make useful vessels for seed-starting. Recycling items from around the home to use in gardening is one of the many aspects of permaculture or green-living and green-growing.
Newspaper, Junk Mail, Paper Products
Paper products have many recycling uses when it comes to gardening. Shredded paper can be added to a compost bin and full sheets of paper work well to suppress weeds, when laid on top of the soil. You can also use the paper products to make biodegradable seed-starting containers. Another plus about making your own paper seed-starting containers is you can plant the entire container in the ground and it will degrade into the soil. This keeps the seedling’s roots from being disturbed when planting. Newspaper seed-starting containers are a great way to start tomato plants, as you can bury the entire container a bit deeper so the plant develops a strong root system along the buried stem.
Making a newspaper pot is relatively basic and you only require minimal supplies.
- Fold a sheet of newspaper in half lengthwise. Use your fingers and press along the folded section.
- Set a water bottle or can at the end of the folded newspaper, allowing approximately 2.54 cm of the paper to hang off the edge of the bottle. Roll the paper around the bottle or can.
- Fold the edge of the paper toward the center of the bottle or can to create the bottom of the seed-starting pot.
- Carefully pull the bottle or can out of the newspaper. Fold the top edge over to create a sturdier top edge of the container.
- Fill the container with a sterile seed-starting mix, plant the seed, water and place the container on a waterproof tray.
Cardboard Toilet Paper Tubes
Cardboard toilet paper tubes are something every home has and they make suitable containers for starting seeds. Once you’ve used the paper, simply fill the empty tubes with soil and seeds. You have the option of leaving the bottom open or folding it over and creating a contained bottom.
When planting in the garden or in a container, simply plant the entire tube in the soil and it will disintegrate over time. If you folded the bottom of the tube over to create a bottom, open it up before planting into the soil.
Keep those used plastic yogurt cups out of the landfill by using them to start seeds. The plastic containers are reusable, so you will have a constant supply of seed-starting containers on hand. Before filling with soil and seeds, make sure to wash the containers with soapy water. You will also want to poke a couple of holes in the bottom so it will drain. Otherwise, the seeds may rot before sprouting due to the container holding too much moisture. Aside from yogurt containers, any small plastic containers are suitable for seed-starting. You can also use a larger plastic flat to start multiple seeds in one container. Just make sure to wash before using and create bottom drain holes.
If your seeds require a small greenhouse to get off to a good start for germinating, used plastic storage bags are the perfect fit. Large food storage bags are suitable used as a small greenhouse and larger plastic bags such as those that hold bedspreads and such make a larger recycled greenhouse. Place some wooden sticks such as bamboo in the corners to hold the bag upright and off the seedlings as they germinate, and simply slip your container into the bag. The bag creates a warm, humid environment for the seeds to propagate.
Plastic Dinnerware or Plastic Floral Cardholders
To identify what’s planted in your seed-starting containers, reusing plastic dinnerware or the plastic sticks that come with florist arrangements work well for the job. Use a marker to write the name of the plant and simply stick it into the seed-starting tray or container. With plastic floral cardholders, write the name of the plant on a piece of paper or business card and stick it into the container to identify the plant. You can also attach the empty seed packet to the cardholder. This works especially well if you are germinating several varieties of seeds such as tomatoes and peppers.
Once you start looking for household items you can recycle, you will probably notice a multitude of things you can reuse to start your seeds. Let your creative juices flow and before you know it, you’ll be finding all sorts of items you can reuse in the garden.