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3 Free Seed Starting Containers for Productive Veggie Gardens

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Getting ready to start your veggie garden seeds? Check out these free seed starting containers you can use to save money on a productive veggie garden!free containers for starting garden seedsIt’s that time of year out here in Eastern Iowa! With an average last frost date of mid May, it’s time for me to start seeds for my garden. I am itching to get back in the dirt and starting seeds is a nice way to ease back into it!

3 Free Seed Starting Containers for Productive Veggie Gardens

Last year was the first year that I ever started my own seeds. I had mixed results, honestly. I got some spindly little plants that didn’t fare well once I transplanted them to my garden. This year, I’m trying again. I’ve been reading online about different types of containers to start seedlings in, and couldn’t decide which one to use.

So, I chose to use them all! 🙂

We’ll call it an experiment of sorts and see which one fares the best. I’m so excited that all three containers for my garden seeds were free! I used all of these:

1. Egg Cartons

2. Egg Shells

3. Toilet Paper Rolls (or paper towel rolls or wrapping paper rolls!)

I love these ideas because this stuff is either trash, compost, or recyclables. It’s much better to re-use things, in my opinion! And each of these seed starting containers can be planted directly in the ground to decompose around my plants. They were easy to find in my house…and easy to prepare and plant, too!

Here’s how you can start your own garden seeds in free containers:

Pick your container of choice.

DSC_0050 I cut the toilet paper rolls in half and put them in a plastic shoe box.

DSC_0042 A lot of sources I saw said to cut the bottom of the TP roll and fold it over, but I skipped that part. I like to live dangerously…

free container to start seedsEgg shells need to be rinsed, but the egg cartons don’t need special preparation, unless you’d like to put a few small drainage holes in them. As I said, I like to live dangerously. I will very carefully water with a spray bottle to avoid over watering, so I opted for no drainage holes.

DSC_0052-001 Get some potting soil and wet thoroughly before filling containers.

free container to start seeds

free container to start seeds free container to start seeds

Use a spool or fingers to fill the containers. I love my daughter’s dirty hands, but I’m weird like that. 😉

free container to start seeds

Add your seeds. I pushed the bigger seeds into the dirt a bit, but the smaller seeds, I just let hang out on top. The seed packet directions should help you decide what to do.

DSC_0070-001I also had ONE of these plastic tray thingies left over from last year, so I used it too. Make sure you label your seeds somehow, so you know what you get. Trust me on that. I ended up with 2/3 cherry tomato plants last year because I didn’t label correctly…

Then, cover your plants with plastic or glass and place in a warm area. The experts recommend 70-80 degrees for optimum seed germination. You might want to use a grow light bulbblank to warm up your area. I don’t have one yet, but will get one later today. Don’t you love my DIY seed starting station?! Hey, it’s better than nothing…

DSC_0073-001And then wait! Most of my seed packets said the seeds should germinate in 3-5 days! I’ll post pictures next week to show you how things are growing.

Do you have more ideas for free seed starting containers? What do you use?


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About Michelle

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long time green living enthusiast and rural Iowa mom of four. An avid traveler, Michelle has lived on three different continents and has driven all four kids across the entire USA (by herself!). She loves sharing farm-to-table recipes, their family travel adventures, and gardening and homesteading tips on her popular lifestyle blog, SimplifyLiveLove.com.


  1. blankHolly says

    Thanks for sharing about how you start your seedlings. I am getting ready to start mine too. I think I am going to try the egg cartons this year. Look forward to seeing how all your teat methods compare to each other.


  2. blankBarb @ Frugal Local Kitchen says

    I was thinking of having my kids help me use the egg shells to grow seeds. What kind of seeds did you put in them? I thought of flowers or lettuce – something small.

  3. blankMichelle says

    I love it. I use newspaper pots (I showed last year how to make them on a post) because I’m not patient enough to save up the tp rolls or the eggshells 😉 And I’m thinking I still have a few weeks before I need to start seeds, but yikes Mother’s Day (our safe outdoor time) is coming up fast!

  4. blankMel {MamaBuzz} says

    These are great ideas! I wouldn’t have thought of the egg shells, but that’s awesome! Thanks so much for linking up to Inspire Me Wednesday. Featuring your post in this week’s issue.:)

  5. blankPat says

    I am going to use a plastic apple container from Costco to start seeds this year. I am going to punch a couple of holes in the bottoms. They are like a mini green house as it hinges so I can fold the top over to retain moisture and warmth.

  6. blankDiane Miller says

    I use anything that will hold soil and water: yogurt containers-leave the soil a bit lower then the lip and top with plastic wrap for the greenhouse effect, plastic juice containers cut in half the long way keeping top screwed on to the bottom and the lid fits back on top and makes it a little greenhouse (I raid the neighbors recycle every spring with permission), an old spring form pan-when you are ready to transplant just pop the spring and gently separate. This year I am going to try the newspaper cups and possible newspaper small loaf size for lettuces because it sounds like a fun project with our granddaughter.. Thank you for your posts!

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