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Seed Starters for Cheapos and Righteous Environmentalists

Updated on March 6, 2017
Patsybell profile image

I inherited my love of gardening from my mother and grandmother. I am a garden blogger, freelance writer, and Master Gardener emeritus.

Add one seed per paper pot.
Add one seed per paper pot. | Source

Use Empty Toilet Paper Rolls

Ok, mock me if you must. It's a seed starter made from an empty toilet paper roll.

Actually, it's two seed starters from 1 empty TP roll. It's a frugal, recycled, and just plain fun.

Last winter, I collected a bag of empty TP rolls. It's a no brainer project, something you can do while watching TV.

Cut and Clip

Measure the roll. Cut in half.
Measure the roll. Cut in half. | Source

Make a Square Bottom for a Round Pot

Cut the roll in half. Clip 4 slits into one end of the half roll, making 4 flaps.

Fold the 4 flaps to make a square bottom to your pot. Fill with seed starting mix. Moisten. Plant a seed in each pot. Place under the grow lights and wait for the miracle of the seedling to appear.

Fold 4 Flaps

Fold the 4 flaps to make a bottom.
Fold the 4 flaps to make a bottom. | Source

Free Seed Starting Pots

Frugal and fun. Great craft project for kids.
Frugal and fun. Great craft project for kids. | Source

Plant Pots Directly in the Garden

I planted Baby Napa Cabbage in these pots. Usually, I plant a single large seed, like a squash seed. The little pots are not a good idea for tomato seeds, which need to develop a larger root system in the 6-8 weeks they spend under the grow light.

When your seedling is big enough to transplant, unfold the bottom of the pot and plant it in the garden. The few weeks head start in the growing season, may provide an opportunity for succession planting. Or, the early start will at least extend the season for more than one harvest.

Encouraging Hardy Starter Plants

Celery is slow to germinate and requires an early start. These pots are sturdy enough to last through the long seed starting process.
Celery is slow to germinate and requires an early start. These pots are sturdy enough to last through the long seed starting process. | Source

Compostable Containers

CowPots™ were created by dairy farmers who had plenty of raw material. CowPots™ seed starting pots made with 100% renewable composted cow manure. Yes, they are odor free.

I like that you can seed the pot indoors under grow lights. Then transplant the entire pot and plant into the garden. The pot decomposes when it comes in contact with the garden soil. CowPots do not decompose when sitting under grow lights or outside while the plants are hardening off.

The manufacturing process removes weed seeds, and the odor. What remains is a natural fiber pot that is a plantable seed starting pot. CowPots are available in various sizes. Buy twelve packs of 3" or 4" CowPots.

These seed starting pots are an easy one-use planting container made of a natural recycled, recyclable material. It's a feel good product that is earth friendly. Maybe I am helping the planet in some small way.

CowPots should prevent transplant shock, giving the plants a head start. I tried planting a tomato plant in a CowPot and another tomato plant bare rooted directly into the soil. The bare rooted tomato didn't take long to catch up with the CowPotted plant. But just a few days can really matter to a gardener.

If the natural cow manure had any residual nutrients after the manufacturing process, it wasn't enough fertilizer to jumpstart the plant. I did not see much difference. University studies show that starting plants in CowPots can help shorten the growing cycle and increase return by up to 10%.

CowPots may improve production by 10%? As a home gardener with such a small sample and so many variables, I can't judge an increase or decrease that small. But, if 10% will gain me bragging rights for the first red ripe tomato, I am all for that.

No More Plastic

Now you can avoid using flimsy plastic seed starting containers.
Now you can avoid using flimsy plastic seed starting containers. | Source

Biodegrable is Easy on Plants

I like the convenience of CowPots. I like not having all those flimsy plastic pots that break and crack, destined for the landfill. I like that I do not have to clean or store a lot of little plastic pots.

You can see in my photos that the composted manure CowPots allow young roots to easily penetrate the sides and bottoms of the CowPot as they grow.

When planted in the ground, CowPots quickly biodegrade. After about a month buried in the soil, there is no evidence of the pot.

My celery plants are healthy and hardy. I did not see evidence of transplant shock. It was as if the move to the garden couldn't get any easier on the plant or easier for me. I like CowPots™ and use them every year.

Certainly there are cheaper ways to start seed. For my small scale home garden, the convenience of CowPots is worth the price.


Submit a Comment
  • Patsybell profile imageAUTHOR

    Patsy Bell Hobson 

    7 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    I love these free pots. I save the rolls and make the pots while watching tv

  • Jakob Barry profile image

    Jakob Barry 

    7 years ago

    This is a great way to use and reuse. Thanks!

  • Patsybell profile imageAUTHOR

    Patsy Bell Hobson 

    7 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    It's free, decomposes quickly and saves plant transplant trauma.


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