With spring just around the corner, many people are making plans to start their seedlings indoors. Before you plunk down the cash for a plastic seed tray or other starter system, consider making your own no dig system.

There are a number of free alternatives to the commercial seed starting trays that you’ll find in most seed catalogs, and it also helps in reducing your household waste. The cool thing about repurposed no dig seedling starters is you prevent these items from going to the dump while also saving some hard-earned cash.

The idea of no dig seedling starting is to start the seeds in something that doesn’t require you to uproot the seedlings and transplant them in your garden. The planter and the planting material all go with the seedling into the hole in your garden – and the seedling just grows through the decomposing planter material directly into your garden soil.

The plus to this technique is your fragile seedlings are less likely to experience shock from uprooting. You are also replenishing your garden soil with compostable (often nutrient-rich) material in the form of a decomposing planter.

Once we saw how easy it is to make our own seedling starters we’ve never gone back. Some seedling starting ideas we tried in the past are:

Seedling starting in cardboard egg cartons.
This works because the cardboard egg carton is a nice rectangle shape, plus the little egg holes are perfect seedling size. The egg carton is easily cut or separated when it is time to plant your seedlings in the garden.

Make papier-mâché cups from old newspaper.
These can be planted directly in your dirt like the egg carton. All you do is shape cups out of sheets of newspaper, wet them, reshape them, and leave them to dry. In our experience these were less sturdy than the egg cartons.

With both of the above methods you just place your repurposed planter in a dish, tray or even a lipped cookie sheet to catch water seepage. Or you can place your seedling planter in an existing pot of soil so the water seepage transfers to another growing plant.

There is new interesting idea we are testing out this year:

Repurposed cardboard cereal boxes & paper product rolls.
This is a great project for cereal boxes, cardboard freezer boxes, toilet paper rolls, or paper towel rolls. Here is how:

  1. Take your toilet paper roll or cardboard box and cut them into sections a couple inches high.
  2. Fold and tape the bottom section under to form a solid bottom to your container.

Now you are set to sow some seedlings and reduce household waste while replenishing the land around you. Go forth, plant, and dream of spring.