Repurposing items isn’t all that common anymore in the United States culture. Instead there’s an idea that new is better. Our ForeMothers and Fathers though saved and reused EVERYthing possible.
Another thing our ancestors did a lot of was local food production and storage. Food was a much more community supported and involved endeavor and folks knew the farmers, and often produced most of what they ate themselves.
Many people today are hoping to get back to the land and grow at least a bit of their own food wherever possible, and one of the things that goes perfectly with the move back to the land is the idea of repurposing!
Repurposing items from around the house for organic gardening is easy, earth friendly, and it makes home gardening even more affordable – especially when you’re just starting out.
With it being February as we write this post, the seed starting phase of organic gardening is on the brain! Its not quite time to actually plant anything indoors or out yet in our neck of the woods, but, seeds are being ordered and, they’re going to need somewhere to germinate! To take care of this in a more natural way, we’ve been saving quite a few different things we’d otherwise recycle at the land fill to get ready for seed starting season. Here’s a list so you can get ready to start your seeds in repurposed containers too – and help save your money and the planet!
One the favorite ideas for repurposed seed starting supplies here at natural mammas is the use of toilet paper rolls and a lidded clear plastic container (you know, like those ones organic greens come in now?) to create a mini greenhouse.
The TP rolls are actually compostable; a great quality of any seed starting pot as it can be traumatic to the new root babies to be transferred from pot to ground. With TP seedling pots though you can take the whole thing, pot and all and plant the seedling straight in the ground. Its kind of like a free version of one of those little peat pots some people use to start seedlings. But in this case you’re using earth friendly pots made of reused toilet paper rolls, cut in half, and filled with good organic compost rich soil.
Now, just place those soil filled former TP rolls into the salad container, plant your seeds, water thoroughly, and put the lid on. The lid can be domed as in our photo here, or flat, either way is fine. Place in a sunny window and watch as a nice humid environment is created and your seeds germinate easily – all with the help of free items you kept out of the landfill!
If you can remember to crack your eggs just at the top – instead of right in the middle as many of us are used to, you can create really cute seed starting pots. Just wash, then gently fill with soil, add seeds, and place in a clear plastic lidded container as described above or, in – surprise, an egg carton!
Then water your newly planted seeds and place in a sunny window so you can watch your seeds come alive.
When ready, plant the seedling, complete with its egg shell pot directly into the ground and the shell will compost around the new plant, feeding it and helping it grow strong!
Small, medium, large, yogurt, butter, sour cream, coffee – whatever sizes and types of food containers you have like this, start saving them this time of year and use them as seed starting pots. They can even be used as full on planters for your flowers, annuals and even some veggies like lettuce, herbs, or a small patch of green onions. Your options depend on the containers you have on hand but really the sky’s the limit!
If you choose to use your smaller containers as repurposed seed starting pots then you will have to transplant your seedlings. It shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you catch them early, but if you let them get too big the plants may suffer a bit of shock upon transplant. Generally things will be fine though as long as there’s a good solid hardening off period and the soil the plant babies get transitioned into is yummy and rich with compost.
As far as using these containers as planters, it can be really fun to decorate them with the kids. You can use twigs as shown here, or small fabric scraps, old drawings, paints, stickers, and more to decorate the containers. Then, add soil and your seeds or small plants and enjoy!
Do be careful NOT to over-water unless you put a hole in the bottom of the plastic container before planting. Otherwise, be sure to always check the moisture level of the soil with your finger prior to each watering.
Plastic or paper, egg cartons can make 12 (or more if you’re using the plastic ones) seedling pots instantly!
The advantage of using paper egg cartons to start your seeds in is that they can pulled apart and each little seed pot can then be planted directly into the ground. The paper egg carton will then just compost into the ground while the seed grows out of and around it.
The disadvantage – they do get quite waterlogged. But, putting them onto an old cookie sheet while the seeds germinate and prepare for planting can solve this.
The advantage of the plastic containers is that if you cut that extra protective layer they have off it gives you two sets of 12 for 24 seed pots out of one egg container!! Plus, there’s a lid for one of the set of 12 to create the min greenhouse as described above.
The disadvantage – you have to transplant your seedlings and the seed pots the egg containers create are quite small so this can create issues w/the root systems of your plant. Shouldn’t be a problem if you get after them quickly but, if you get distracted – as is common with many of us natural mammas – and the seeds don’t get planted for an extra week…or three – this may not be the seed starting option for you! This whole issue can be avoided though by using the egg shells as your seed pots and using the plastic egg carton to hold them as opposed to just planting directly into the plastic egg carton.
Organic gardening is such a fun and amazing tradition for everyone from babies on up. It doesn’t have to be big, even just a few pots on the porch still lets everyone experience the miracle of gardening. And now, with these tips, you can get things started the natural way with these ideas for items that can be repurposed as seed starting supplies!
Do you have other ideas for repurposed seedling containers? Share here now! We love to keep the learning and growing going!
Nature Is Random…So Are These