seedling starters

10 Easy Seedling Starters

Are you starting your seeds this season before they go in the ground? Check out these 10 ideas for easy seedling starters ideas!

It’s been a very mild winter around here, which makes me so sad because I love winter! But now that we’ve had our official February blizzard (which wasn’t much of a blizzard) I know that winter is on it’s last gasp. Spring will be here very soon and I personally can’t wait.

Our garden was a bit of a failure last year, between being gone a lot, critters, and a dry summer it barely had a chance. I also made a BIG mistake…I direct sowed the garden. Granted all the things I planted said direct sowing for our zone was acceptable, there is no denying how much better my garden was when I started my seedlings.

This year I’ll be starting my seeds on the porch in March and April so that way in May I can transfer them into my raised garden beds and hopefully have a much better year! I’m pretty lucky that we have a great big 3 season porch on the front of our house to use so that their safe from the cats.

What seedlings grow the fastest?

While many veggies are simple to produce outside, certain seeds are possibly the simplest to cultivate inside. They are often affordable and simple to locate, allowing you to enjoy your own abundance of home-grown food with no effort. I performed some study and experimented with several ideas. Plastic cups are one of our favourite methods to put seeds. Cheap, portable, and you can really see the roots growing!

Radishes grow really quickly. A seed must absorb a substantial quantity of water through its outer covering in order to germinate. This triggers an enzyme inside the seed that is necessary for germination and subsequent seedling development. Radish seeds absorb water fast, and seedlings emerge from the soil in a few of days, generally between six and eight days. Spinach is another excellent choice for quick-growing plants. When you utilise prepared seeds, the seeds sprout in five days (regulating moisture and heat of the planted seeds). Even without priming, spinach grows quickly, with sprouts appearing after 10 days. Spinach is typically harvested within 30 days after seeding.

Many herbs not only germinate and develop fast, but they also offer fragrance to the yard and taste to your cuisine. Consider basil, which sprouts in four days, or chives, cilantro, and dill, which show seven to fourteen days after sowing. Mint grows fast as well, but you’ll want to keep it in pots to prevent it from spreading. Garden cress gives foods a strong scent and a peppery flavour. You can assist seeds germinate quicker to accelerate the sprouting process even more. Scarification, or minor scratching of the seed, hastens germination. Sand the seeds with a piece of sandpaper and then cover them in a moist paper towel. Place them in a warm, dark place.

When it comes to my seedling starters I prefer options that I can make or reuse rather than buying those plastic seedling starters from the store.

We try and limit our waste as much as possible and I don’t like to buy one-use items, especially one use items with a ton of plastic packaging! But there are some great options out there for seed starters no matter what your budget or time availability is and depending on what you’re growing some will work better than others!

1. Egg Shells

Egg shells make great seed starters because you can put the whole thing right into the ground when it is time to plant. I break up the shell a bit when I’m putting it into the ground in order let the roots grow down easier. But that’s it!

The shell will decompose and provide a nice boost of calcium to your new plant, and you’ve made a seed starter that is completely waste free! Plus it’s a good reason to enjoy some more eggs.

You can also put the egg shells back in the carton as they’re germinating since it’s already the perfect holder!

2. K-Cups

I don’t drink coffee, but oh man do they drink a lot of it at my work! Recently the department got a fancy single cup coffee maker,  and that means a lot of those k-cups are being thrown away.

Instead why don’t you use them for germinating seeds! Ask people nicely and I’m sure they’ll set aside their used k-cups for you! Just let it cool before handling because those things get HOT.

Scoop out the coffee grounds (and bonus, compost fodder) and the liner. Add dirt and seeds and voila! Once you pop the germinated seeds out to plant you can either save the cup to do again, or toss it. But at least it was able to get one more use!

3. Egg Cartons

Around here most eggs come in the Styrofoam cartons, so this wouldn’t work as well. But if you get your eggs in the cardboard cartons, or know someone who does, this is a perfect option for germinating those seeds!

Especially for the delicate little ones. You can still use the styrofoam ones but you’ll have to take the seedling out before you plant it.

4. Toilet Paper Rolls

Similar to the tube style with newspapers you can use toilet paper rolls for your seed starters! These are not biodegradable, so you’ll have to unfold the bottom to get the plant out when you’re ready to transplant, but if you go through a lot of TP start saving them up and use them!

Note: They’ve got great side stability but can be a little wobbly on the bottom!

5. Newspaper Boxes

1. Take your single sheet of newspaper and fold it in half.
2. Fold down the corners on the folded edge of your paper.
3. Fold up one side of the newspaper in two folds
4. Flip your paper over and fold in the outer edges.
5. Fold up the newspaper in half.
6. Fold it again.
7. Tuck the second fold into the newspaper.
8. Open up the box and smooth the bottom.
9. Add dirt and grow your seeds!

These little origami style seed starters are so fun! I use these ones for larger plants that need a little more room and stability while they’re starting out, like if it’s going to be a taller plant or something that needs an extra long head start!

Both of the options with newspaper are biodegradable so it’s another one that you can create with n0 waste! So recycle those newspapers and get your seeds growing!

6. Newspaper Rolls

For smaller plants that don’t need as much soil or to germinate as long I’ll use newspaper rolls to germinate them. They’re nice and easy and give you a great option for those smaller/delicate plants!

When it’s time to put them in the ground you can just put it in and go! My favorite kind of seedling starter.

7. Tray seed starters

I don’t mind these, and the little trays can be used over and over again, my only problem is the cost! But they’re great for first timers or someone who doesn’t have the time to create the other methods. Look for ones though that have the least amount of packaging and use those trays next year to hold your egg shell or newspaper seed starters! You can buy re-fills of the little pod things, so at least this is an option you can use year after year.

8. Re-usable pots

If you buy plants from a nursery, or are lucky like me to have inherited a ton of gardening stuff from your grandparents you probably have about a million of those little plastic pots in the garage or shed. Why not use them for germinating your seeds! In the larger ones I’ll usually divide it into 2-3 different growing areas. These are nice because you’re going to get them anyway, might as well use them as much as you can before you have to throw them out.

9. Plastic Bottles

This is another great option for reusing those items destined for the recycle bin! This is also a great option for a self watering plant starter, you just cut the bottle in half, plant your seed and set the bottle top in the bottom half and fill that with water.

10. Yogurt Cups

Does your family love those individual cups of yogurt? Rinse ’em out and fill them with dirt! Poke a few holes in the bottom and you’ve got a great seed starter. Once it’s time to plant them just pop them out and put it in the ground. Re-use them as many times as you can before you’ve got to throw them in the recycling.

Read also: How To Quickly Save Basil Seeds

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What can I start my seedlings in?

Planting from seed is an excellent method to begin gardening earlier in the season. It’s simple to cultivate from seed to harvest with the appropriate light and some basic equipment. Because each plant has different seed-starting needs, it’s best to start small and cultivate just a few types. Some seeds, such as tomatoes and marigolds, are very simple to germinate inside.

Planning is essential for any successful garden. The first step is to figure out what you want to grow and create a seed list. Then, to get an estimate of how many transplants you’ll need to grow, map out your garden beds. Warm-season veggies aren’t the only ones that can be grown from seed. Many vegetables, such as carrots and radishes, grow best from seed because they resist having their roots disturbed once they begin to develop.

As a general rule, seeds should be planted four to six weeks before the final frost date. Seed starting timings are determined by subtracting the days till transplant from the day of the last frost. The seed packaging will inform you how many weeks it will take. Typically, the optimal time to start seeds is from late March to late May. In the early months, only the southern zones are ideal for beginning plants from seed. Allow enough time for the plant to germinate and develop to a suitable transplant size.

Use a sterile seed starting mix or a soilless mix to avoid difficulties from the start. There are also lots of organic choices. Just make sure the box says “sterile.” This manner, you avoid introducing dangerous disease spores straight away, which may lead to damping off later. When it comes time to transplant seedlings such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, if they are planted thickly in a beautiful fluffy sterile soil mix, the plants will come apart like a dream, transfer, and acclimate to their new homes very fast.

Read also: 30 Foods You Can Easily Regrow From Scraps

When should I start my seeds inside?

It’s up to you to decide what to grow from seed, but some things aren’t worth the effort. Begonias, for example, contain small seeds that are difficult to germinate and develop slowly. It’s much simpler to simply purchase those plants. Many of our favourite crops, such as tomatoes and peppers, are native to warmer areas where they can grow outside for longer periods of time than is practical in much of the United States.

Their seeds will not germinate in chilly spring soil, and their fruits need more sunlight to mature than is available in October. If you planted tomato seeds in New England or the Midwest in May, the plants would take so long to mature that the first frost in October would very certainly kill them before you received a single ripe tomato. Some plant and flower seeds need stratification (freezing period) to germinate. When experimenting with new types, check your seed packaging or garden catalogue for this information. Also, if you want exceptionally early flower blossoms, you must start your plants as early as the nurseries. Decorative spikes for flower baskets are sometimes started almost a year in advance.

I don’t enjoy the additional work of beginning seeds too early, so I don’t plant seeds until approximately mid-March – with the exception of onions, which I occasionally start in February. Cover your containers with plastic cling wrap to keep moisture contained in, akin to the greenhouse effect. Make a few holes with a toothpick or other pointed object to allow air to flow and prevent mould from growing. Water your freshly planted seedlings gently and carefully. A watering can or pitcher may forcefully discharge too much water for fresh seedlings. Spraying the seeds with mist from just a spray can may be softer on them, but it takes a long time to provide them with the water they need.

What is the best seed starter kit?

Seed starting kits let you get a head start on the growing season. When the weather outdoors is still uncertain in late winter and early spring, you may use them to start sprouting your veggies, fruits, herbs, or flower seeds in a more stable indoor environment. While starting seeds inside is not inherently more difficult than sowing them directly in your yard, it does need some knowledge and a few pieces of equipment. Purchasing the equipment as a kit is simpler and generally more cost effective than purchasing individual components.

The contents of seed starting kits vary, but they always consist of little pockets of growth material that house a single seedling. When the plant outgrows its pocket, it is transferred to the garden. Because the seed starting kit will be that plant’s first home, you’ll want to make an educated decision that will result in healthy, happy plants. This is the seed starting package for you if you want everything from the seeds to the container. The Mountain Valley Seed Co. Salad Kit includes six non-GMO seed varieties, namely cherry tomato, lettuce, carrot, cabbage, and radish.

The Window seed starter is ideal for growing plants in a tiny space of your house. It’s just 4 inches broad and 10 inches long, making it tiny enough to fit in a window corner. You may listen to music while watching the trees grow and enjoying the breeze at this area of the entrance. Gardening suddenly gets more poetic. This model has a ground cover that expands when saturated in water. They bloom to meet the planting tray’s box size. This design eliminates the requirement for soil preparation, making plant growth much easier.


So what do you use to start your seeds in the spring?

I’m getting antsy to get started, and to test out my mini greenhouse that I also inherited but for now I just flip through my seed catalogs and dream of all the goodies I’ll be growing this year!


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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Kara Bout It