Starting seeds inside is a great way to get a head start on your garden. While it's still early in most places for many vegetables, growing season for cold weather vegetables like broccoli and lettuce is right around the corner (late February in some places).
You can start the seeds in just about any kind of container, but egg cartons do double duty by not only recycling, but separating your seeds into little planting pods.
What You Need
- Drill or Sharp Metal Object (letter opener)
- Egg crate
- Potting Soil
- Vegetable Seeds
1. Creating Drainage
The first step to creating a potting carton is to create drainage for your seeds. To do this, simply drill a hole (I used a 3/8" drill bit) in each egg holding pod. I've found that with Styrofoam cartons the "leaflet" stays attached, but for plastic there are flakes that come off (so do it over a garbage can).
2. Fill with Soil and Seed
All-purpose potting soil works fine for starting seeds. While some guides recommend putting seeds in the refrigerator for a couple days before seeding, I've found that planting them immediately from the store works fine. The easiest method I've found is to fill each egg section 4/5 of the way with soil. Add a couple seeds to each pod, and then add a thin layer over the seeds to bring it to full.
3. Water and Place Strategically
Soak thoroughly with water and place in a warm spot in your home near a heater vent or radiator and water every other day. Again, some guides say to use warm water; however, cold water out of my tap has worked just fine.
Once the seedlings have germinated, you may consider thinning each pod so that there are only 2-3 seedlings per pod.
After the seedlings have formed a couple sets of true leaves, they can be individually potted, but don't place outdoors until all danger of frost has passed. Once you're ready to plant, simply dig a small hole, place so that the dirt levels are the same as before, and water thoroughly to force out any air bubbles and let the soil settle.
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(Images: Trent Johnson)