Here in the Midwest, there is still snow on the ground, but temperatures are on the rise, and it’s time to start thinking about gardens and, more importantly, getting seedlings started. We’ll be starting our seedlings indoors because the temperatures still drop below freezing at night, and to do this, we’ll need to build a box to grow them in. Rather than paying $10 to $20 for a premade tray, we decided to make our own out of garbage and recyclables around the house. Besides, paying for one would defeat the purpose of planting my own seedlings rather than just purchasing them at the farmer’s market for $1 a plant.
First, you’ll need a watertight tray. This one came with Ikea cinnamon rolls in it, picked up one day while we were picking up some necessities. The bonus here is the clear plastic top. While you don’t have to have a lid, the clear plastic one will act as a mini greenhouse for our tiny plants. (Pretend the lid is in the picture. You can see it below.) You’ll also need a few empty toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls. These will become our pots.
We need to cut the rolls so that they’ll fit under the lid of our little greenhouse. Cutting them in half gave us plenty of clearance to get the lid on.
This is a perfect teaching opportunity. Not only does this teach kids the importance of recycling and reusing what would otherwise be garbage, but it starts to emphasize the importance of eating locally and eating healthy as we plant foods that they will later see on our dinner table.
Next we need bottoms for our seedling pots. Using one of the free community papers that gets delivered here, we trace circles 5-6 inches wide and cut them out. Finding out whether your paper prints with soy-based or petroleum-based inks is as easy as making a phone call.
Slide the newspaper circles into the toilet paper tubes so that it covers the bottom and comes up the inside side of the tube.
And there you have it: a seedling pot.
With our mini pots ready to go, we can get started with the filling. All you need now are your mini seedling pots, dirt and a spoon.
Be sure to fill them up 2/3 of the way and no more. We want to leave plenty of room for our seedling to sprout and start to grow.
In the bottom of the tray you can place an old rag, cloth or a few paper towels to help wick the water up into the plant. Then you just need to water directly into the tray and not each individual pot. We ended up with 33 seedling pots in one cinnamon roll tray. That’s all there is to it. A small time commitment and you have a completely recycled seedling tray ready to start plants for your garden.
Last year we had a lovely garden success, but some of our plants could have used more space, the zucchini was out of control and I just wanted more. So we’re making a raised bed garden this year in addition to the one we built last year, you know, once the snow melts. Watch for all of our garden updates this spring!
Have you started your garden yet?