Money saving tips for starting spring seeds indoors

Starting your own plants from seed like annual flowers, perennials, herbs, many houseplants and of course vegetables, is an economical way of extending your budget for plants.
Here are some tips for making seedling containers from items you may already have around the home:

• Start seed in clean plastic food container, with a clear lid (i.e sour cream). Fill two-thirds with soil, mist with water until it is moist, sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil and then snap on the lid. The container will act like a mini-green house by keeping the warmth and moisture inside. Transplant to larger containers once the seedlings touch the lid.

• Both halves of empty egg cartons make great seed containers. If using a 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. Seal vent holes in the lid with duct tape to make the lid waterproof. A recycled paper, egg carton is just as handy and the cups can be planted directly into the garden because they will disintegrate.

• 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.

• 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 of the plastic mesh and firm up in the garden with remaining soil.

• Coffee filters are a great for placing in the bottom of pots to block drainage holes for your houseplant pots or your container gardens.

• You can create your own wicking mat for watering plants from below 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. They also can be cut into strips to make good soft, strong ties for staking plants in the garden.

You really do not need a lot of fancy equipment – just 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 but when purchasing any bagged soil for planting, spend the extra money to ensure that you are buying a sterilized product.