Money Saving Tips For Starting Seeds Indoors

Believe it or not spring is really just around the corner and it is now time for the gardener to start thinking about starting some seeds indoors. Gardening can be expensive if you need to buy a lot of plants to fill your garden each year. Starting your own plants from seed is an economical way of extending the budget for plants. You can start all kinds of plants from seed including, annual flowers, perennials, herbs, many houseplants and of course vegetables.   Starting seeds indoors can really boost your spirits by getting some “early” gardening done and is also a fun project for the kids.

You really do not need a lot of fancy equipment to start seeds indoors. Some containers for planting and some windows with adequate light are all that is really required. There are many creative and thrifty solutions for containers and supplies suitable for planting but one thing that you do not want to skimp on is your soil. When purchasing any bagged soil for planting spend the extra money to ensure that you are buying a sterilized product. Whether it is soil for houseplants, starting seeds or the soil-less mix for seedlings or planters make sure you always purchase a pre-sterilized product.

It is not always necessary to go out and spend a lot of money on seedling containers when you may have many items around the home that are suitable. I have listed a few ideas to get you started.

  • Empty egg cartons make great seed containers. Cut the container apart at the fold.  If using a plastic or Styrofoam container punch a small hole in the bottom of each cup; place the lid underneath the cup part to act as a tray to catch the water. If there are any vent holes in the lid seal them with duct tape to make the lid waterproof. 
  • Clear produce containers with a hinged lid (like strawberries come in) can be made into little mini greenhouses. Cupcake liners, egg carton cups, Styrofoam cups, toilet paper or paper towel rolls (cut to size), peat pellets or peat cups can all be placed inside these containers. Plant the seeds, water; close the lid and place in a sunny spot. 
  • Plastic mesh berry baskets are a gardener’s best friend and have many uses in the garden.  They are ideal for using as a planting container for seedlings whose roots do not like to be disturbed when transplanting (cucumbers, melons, pumpkins and squash).  Line the basket with a few layers of newspaper, paper towel or a coffee filter; add potting mix and then the seed. Water and then set in a tray. Once the plant is ready for out planting, snip off the bottom of the mesh basket and then place the basket in a shallow hole, slip off the plastic mesh and firm up in the garden with remaining soil. There is no root disturbance using this method. If you have extra seedlings within the basket just trim them away with scissors, instead of plucking them out, and then you avoid any root disturbance.
  • Coffee filters are a great for placing in the bottom of pots to block drainage holes for your houseplant pots or your container gardens. They can also be inserted into plastic containers (for side support) with drainage holes or the bottoms removed and then the soil added and the seeds planted in the soil. At transplanting time pop the filter “pot” out and into the planting hole.
  • Commercial greenhouses use wicking mats to water plants and you can create your own wicking mat, by inserting a synthetic chamois cloth in the bottom of your tray before placing in the pots. Keeping the synthetic chamois cloth moist at all times will ensure a constant moisture supply to your seedlings, making for healthier seedlings. A synthetic chamois cloth can be purchased at most stores in the kitchen or cleaning supply area.

These are just a few ideas to get your thrifty thumb (the one that isn’t green) working and helping you to get the green thumb going a little early. Before you discard an item look at it with an open mind and see of it can assist you in the garden.