How to start your spring garden using odd containers

how to start your spring garden using odd containers


Now that spring is around the corner it’s time to get your green thumb ready to start your summer garden.

Growing your own garden is rewarding because it can save you a good chunk of money in your grocery budget.

Another bonus is that you get to sit down in the comfort of your home and enjoy putting food on your table that you had a hand in growing.

Growing your own food is like printing your own money—Ron Finley

How to Start your Spring garden seeds

My favourite time of year is coming where I get to start working on landscaping projects for my customers and to get my own vegetable garden ready.

Looking outside today it is extremely hard to believe that spring is on its way, but it will be here soon enough. Around this time every year my Spring fever starts to kick in and I can`t wait to see the beautiful green grass that is hiding under the dreaded snow.

As long as Old Man winter keeps making his presence known I will just have to deal with it and wait but in the meantime I’ll get started on my garden seeds so I’m ahead of the game.

While it looks like spring is still far off, if you are planning to start your seeds indoors to grow your own garden this year don’t let spring sneak up and find you unprepared.

If you do find that you are behind in starting your seeds don’t fear you can always purchase ready-made plants or search online for people who are giving away free plants. Sometimes people grow too many spring seedlings and are happy to pass them on.

Save up supplies around your home to simplify the gardening process!

It`s easy enough to go to a store like Wal-Mart or Lowe`s and buy a seed starting kit but the costs can add up especially if you purchase a new one every year.

There are many things you likely have around your home that can be recycled and reused to start your spring garden seeds indoors.

Recycling and biodegradable pots

soup can gardening 1Start saving up your empty egg cartons instead of recycling them. Mr. CBB showed us in a post last year how to prepare egg cartons to sow your seeds. 

The lids from the egg cartons can also be used for planting seeds that can be easily thinned out and divided after the seedlings have emerged.

A newspaper and a soup can go a long way in saving you some money on start-up costs.

Wrap some newspaper around a soup can then fold up the newspaper on one end and using a small piece of tape the hold it together to form the bottom of your pot.

Removing the soup can and filling with potting soil gives you a biodegradable pot. When it’s time to plant outdoors put the whole thing in the ground or container, paper and all.

You can use a smaller can as well if you would prefer them to be smaller.

toilet paper roll gardening 2Empty toilet paper rolls can also be converted into biodegradable pots.

Make 5 or 6 slits in the bottom of the toilet paper roll about 1 inch up from the bottom and then fold them all in to create a bottom.

I hope this gives you a few more ideas on other methods of recycling items in your home to use for growing your seeds indoors.

Ice-cream cones

Purchasing the ice cream cones may cost you a dollar or two to buy if you don’t happen to have some in the cupboard.

Using ice-cream cones the plants can be planted directly into the ground, cone and all.

It can be a fun way to start your seeds if you are doing it with your kids. Just be sure to remind them once they are full of potting soil not to eat them. Sounds strange but don’t put it past them, they are learning after all.

Plastic containers

If you are one of the unfortunate ones like myself who has to buy water to drink do what can you with all of those empty water jugs. You could throw them into your weekly recycling bin or you could use them as a ‘pot’ for growing some of your garden plants.

We are on a well system where we live and were advised that our water is not safe for drinking. I do not have the space in my kitchen for a water cooler so I tend to accumulate a few plastic water jugs throughout the year.

I am planning to use the water jugs to grow some of my spring plants once I move them outdoors. I want to do my garden a little different again this year to show others how easily you can grow your own fruits and veggies regardless of the space that you have.

Because certain plastics can breakdown when exposed to extreme temperatures and sunlight if you choose to use water bottles using them for plants that do not need full sun would be in your best interest.

Other items around the house such as empty milk jugs and laundry detergent containers can be modified to grow a plant in your garden.

If you decide to recycle any plastic containers be sure to check what the number (ranging from 1-7) is on the bottom of the container that indicates what the plastic is made out of.

Anything with a ‘1’ is made out of PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) and has the potential to break down and leach into your plants if exposed to heat and sunlight for a long time.

Anything that has a ‘2’ is made out of HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) a much more durable plastic that will not break down and or leach any chemicals into your plants even when exposed to the elements.

Spring garden planting

How do you decide what to plant in your Spring garden?

Obviously it is worth your time and money to grow things that you will actually eat. Take a look at your diet and your grocery list and see what you can grow for yourself.

What fruits and vegetables do you eat regularly?

While some fruits and vegetables grow better and often taste better grown in cooler weather that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t grow them throughout the spring and summer.

Make a garden list and once you have purchased your seeds read the information on the back of the seed packet that tells you how long before the first expected frost you should sow the seeds.

Creating a schedule will help so that you do not miss the best time to start your plants. How many seeds you plant depends on how big of a yield you would like from your garden.

Growing different varieties of the same plant such as growing beefsteak tomatoes and cherry tomatoes will ensure that you are reaping the benefits of your garden throughout the entire growing season.

The number of days until maturity (when the vegetables of fruit are ready to be harvested) can vary greatly among varieties of the same type of plant.

Many stores have their seed packet displays set up already so shopping early will ensure that you have a good selection of varieties to choose from.

Don’t be afraid to check the dollar store as well as they have a large variety of seeds typically selling 3/$1.00. Alternatively you could also seed swap like our friend Karen at Lil Suburban Homestead who has a garden that will blow your mind.

If you love honey you must check out her bees.

Thinking outside the Spring garden box

Now that you have an idea of what you want to plant you have to think of a few things before you can dive right in.

Start thinking about how and where you are going to grow your plants by answering these questions below.

  • What requirements does the plant need?
  • How much space the plant will need?
  • How much light or lack of light is needed?
  • What temperature and soil conditions are needed?

As I pointed out in an earlier post last year gardening does not have to be limited to having a traditional garden. Growing a garden in a small space is definitely do-able with a little creativity and planning.

Growing space for your garden vegetables

How much space do the plants require to properly root and grow?

Spacing plants doesn’t have to be a tedious job if you do some research. Vines such as zucchini can be grown in pots as long as the soil is deep enough for the roots to grow properly and there is adequate space for the plant to branch out.

A zucchini plant will need a bigger area to root and grow than a tomato plant would.

Can you hang some of your plants?

Many plants such as tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, lettuce and an assortment of herbs can be grown hanging up. I used the Topsy Turvy to grow my tomatoes and it worked out perfect.

If you do not have a lot of space on the ground think of ways that you can go up to plant your garden.

I shared pictures before of how I grew my own pot potatoes in a recycling bin You can easily use a cleaned out garbage can or an old rain barrel would also work as long as you aren`t using it to collect water to water your garden and save on your water bill.

Spring is coming…I promise.

While it seems like spring may never come at this point, it will eventually so don’t put off starting your seeds indoors as you want to be ready to get your plants outside when spring finally does make an appearance.

Many people use the May 2-4 weekend as their start time to begin planting and I am crossing my fingers that winter will be long gone by then.

If you have to keep your Spring garden seedlings and plants indoors a little bit longer than that is what you do.

It won’t hurt the plants to be in their cell packs, or egg cartons for a little longer inside.

  • Have you started to plan your garden for this year`s growing season?
  • Do you have any advice or ideas that you would like to share with those who are thinking of growing their own garden?
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  1. I am pleased to see you buy at least some seeds from Dollar Stores – I recognised the labels in you header photo!
    It’s so tempting to buy into the big store displays with sometimes costly seeds, but sometimes it is worthwhile (for the taste buds) to try an unfamiliar or unusual variety.

    I have tried plastic muffin ‘tins’ from the grocery for starting plants, with limited success. My thought was that the lids would reduce the moisture evaporation, but I think the lids can act as a lens to make a greenhouse with excessive temperatures for baby plants. I am going to try some of the other biodegradable pots you suggest.
    Spring is Coming!

  2. Thanks for some resourceful tips, I may just be able to put them to use next year. I started most of my seeds about a week ago, just have a couple of packs left to plant. I have had a mixed bag of luck over the years with starting them and about every other year I buy the plants from gardeners or get stuff handed on to me. Thought this might be my year and I so want to cut costs. I did buy most of my seeds at the dollar store. We’ve got a couple, one store is looking for 3/$1.00 and the other is 4/$1.25. All great deals when Giant Tiger alone is looking for 50cents per pack of same brand. However, I did have to grab a couple of packs from Walmart as it was the only place in my city I could find acorn squash and butternut squash. So $1.89 each pack there and they are the last of my planting. I’m looking to expand my garden this year as my son is now really too big to play in our yard now and I am going to use more of it for food. I see some start up costs coming from that, but can’t wait as it’s loads of fun! Hoping for a better weather year overall, last year wasn’t so great. I’m already looking ahead to getting rid of slugs, we were overrun last year!

  3. I have been saving egg cartons and plastic bags from the newspaper all winter for seeds.I have a metal plant stand with a plastic cover we got years ago to start seeds. I jury rigged a plant light for the one shelf and it’s plugged into a timer. I need to get some more seeds to really get going. I started some seeds for pink pampas grass my younger son got me last year for Mother’s Day. The pack said to start the seeds early so we thought we would go with early this year and they are almost an inch high!!!
    I’ve tried saving seeds from last year and I will try planting those plus I have a pack of basil, salad greens, blue morning glory and some sweet peas. Last year I tried getting just a couple of plants for the garden. I got 2 older type tomatoes and one survived. Something bite the other one off at ground level. We got some tomatoes from the remaining one. I don’t have much room to work with so I got the plants as I only had room for so much. It worked for us. I have a number of hanging pots and would like to grow the flowers to put in those this year. Food for the soul……I’ll be checking out the seeds at CT to see what goodies they have I can try……

  4. Pam I hopeyou have better luck this year! The top of your fridge is a great place to place your seeds to get some bottom heat depending how many trays you have.

  5. I started some seeds this week, I need to get a heat mat or heating pad to help them along.
    Last year I tried starting pepper seeds and was so excited when many of them sprouted but sadly they died long before it was time to put them outside. Not sure what went wrong.
    This year I’ve started peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and squash.
    I’ve tried gardening several times over the past eight years without any real success, I’m hoping this year will be the year. 🙂
    Last year I tried a pallet garden, an idea from Pinterest, it was a total flop! I’ve also tried container gardening without any success. I considered joining a community garden, and still haven’t ruled out that idea, but I would really prefer to have the garden in my own backyard. If I do the community garden it means making a trip into town every day to water and weed. The community garden costs $20 but they provide the water and the soil would be good. To garden in my own backyard I will need to buy a lot of soil, however if I can get plants to grow obviously over the long term this would be a better option.

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