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An Inexpensive Way to Start Seeds

Updated on January 5, 2010

THE PLASTIC STORAGE BOXE-I will wash it before it is stored.


My Red Rubin and Purple Ruffles started in a shoebox

See how my thymes just love their boxes and are ready to transplant!

This Basil started in a plastic storage box.

So did this golden yarrow.

Starting seeds, cheap and easy.

Now that you have read my hub on how to build an inexpensive light stand for your plants, I am going to tell you about a cheap and easy way to start your seeds under the lights . This is a gardening trick that I learned from Martha Stewart. And Martha Stewart knows how to garden.

The first thing to do is go to the store. It doesn't matter which one as long as they sell plastic storage containers with clear lids. The best ones measure at least 12lx 5hx5w or in that range. A perfect size is one that would comfortably hold a pair of dress pumps.

There are only 5 things you need to successfully start seeds indoors:

  • Clean plastic storage containers with clear lids
  • Sterile potting soil
  • Light-as bright as possible
  • Water

Fill the box 2/3rds of the way up, add enough water so the mix is wet all the way through, you want it wet but not mushy. If it seems a little low and more mix but make sure the top is damp. Smooth it out and gently tamp it down. Now just add your seeds, cover if needed and put on the lid and your seeds are now ready to go under the lights. Keeping the lids on with keep the boxes warmer and the seeds will grow a lot sooner. Some of my seeds will start in as little as three day, even ones like lavender and chamomile that are hard to start.

I have found that these plastic boxes beat anything else I have tried for starting seeds. They are sturdy, easy to clean and reusable. I have used mine for years. And if you lose the lids, Press and Seal wrap makes good substitute because it is thick and does not get all tangled up. I tried regular plastic wrap first and that was a disaster.

Once the seeds have their first true leaves they are ready to thin and go into the your flower trays from last year or into 4 inch pots. I know that you have plenty of both lying around.

This method is especially useful for starting tiny seeds. Someseeds are so tiny, That they are almost invisible.   By using these plastic boxes to start your seed, you kill two birds with one stone. First bird, you know exactly where the seeds are planted, in the box. Second bird, when those tiny seedlings emerge, you know what it is (if you have labeled the box, if not you'll know when they get bigger) and they won't get over grown in the garden. When they have gained some size, they can be transplanted in the garden or into containers.

For bigger plants like tomatoes or peppers, beans and sunflowers, I just use larger clear tubs with clear lids. I have found the using plastic tubs for starting sunflowers is really handy. Because the seeds are contained birds and squirrels can't dig up the seeds and eat them. Once they have gained a little size, they can be safely transplanted outside. Birds and squirrels don't want the plants, they just like to eat the seeds.

If you haven't already read my hub on building an inexpensive light stand, check it out. Not only will you have sturdy seed starting trays but a place to keep them. My light stand can hold about 16 sneaker sized boxes at a time.


And these Hollyhocks

and these Purple Cone flowers plus one clary sage

Don't forget the Calandula

even Cupids Darts and Floxgloves

This is a view of my storage box garden


Fiskars Softouch Garden Tool 3 Piece Set, 70676935J
Fiskars Softouch Garden Tool 3 Piece Set, 70676935J
I have become a fan of Fiskars garden tools. They are top quality and the edges stay sharp

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