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Cheap planters to start garden plants, or indoor garden.

Picture of Cheap planters to start garden plants, or indoor garden.
I like many people enjoy planting a vegetable garden in the summer, its enjoyment and a money saver.  One of the problems that I have to deal with is that I live in Ohio, and we normally have a very wet spring.  Along with that the last few years the spring weather has not only been rainy, but also colder than normal making it hard to plant at the proper time.  If you want to harvest your plants before it gets late in the year, or you want to harvest earlier i have a tip for you.

You could just go out and buy plants that are already a few months grown, but that can get expensive in a hurry.  Like most people I try to do things as cheap as possible. I prefer to think I do things as cheap as reasonable, and the way I will tell you how I do it also recycles some of your waste. It is also cheaper to start with seeds.  You could also buy greenhouse kits, but those too can get expensive fast. 

I can start my garden for $20 (+tax) and a little time.

-- Seeds, $5
-- Bag of planting dirt, $5
-- Fertilizer, $10

You could save $5 if you used dirt from your yard or garden, but right now everything around me is mud, or frozen mud. its worth the $5 to me to start with some good dirt thats ready to plant. If you planned ahead from last garden season, you may be able to save more money but saving seeds from last years plants. If not, you can always plan to save seeds from this years harvested plants. 

Along with those items you need something to put them in. Here is where you can save a lot of money and do some recycling. the big tip is to use empty milk jug. 1 gallon, or 1/2 gallon.

tools:
--Knife and or scissors
-- pen/marker
 
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kirnex9 months ago
Nicely done. Thank you!

For plants that are more sensitive to transplantation, I actually have a tip for that. For years, what I do is make newspaper seedling pots. It's very easy--in fact, i believe someone even did an Instructable here somewhere.

Anyhow--what I do is cut pieces of newspaper about 6"W x 10"L (possibly longer and wider, depending on what I use to shape the "pot", and what size I want it). You have to make sure it's regular print newspaper--preferably black and white, but not glossy like print ads.

I usually will use something relatively the diameter of, say, a bottle of tabasco sauce as the "pot" form. Just wrap your newspaper strips lengthwise around the bottom of the bottle, leaving about 2" hanging past the bottom. Make sure you don't wrap it too tightly, or it will be difficult to take off the bottle once you've made it.

Next you fold the edges down onto the bottle bottom, one by one, similar to how you'd package a cardboard box for shipping (two opposing sides, then the other two opposing sides). If you are worried they might come apart, you can just dab a tiny bit of elmer's glue on the outer tabs--just a bit is all it takes.

It's now ready to add potting or seed-starting blend as you would your container here. You can actually put these little pots into the planting milk container you made here, which is excellent at preventing them from tipping over as the seedlings become top-heavy. I've been using half-gallon cardboard milk cartons for this for years--it's a great way to also water the seedlings, as they grow, in a way that promotes root depth--you just pour a bit of water into the bottom--make the roots work to get it, you know? And, since the newspaper absorbs water, it acts similarly to a terracotta pot--it absorbs excess water, but also keeps your plant moist longer.

Next, plant your seeds and, with a permanent black marker, just write the name of what seed is planted on the outside of the newspaper pot. Even when wet, you will still be able to tell what it is this way, without having to make markers for each pot.

Oh! Since you have used the gallon plastic jug: you can actually use the top of your milk jug, without the cap, as a "greenhouse" cover for the seedlings until they get going and no longer need the humid environment. The great thing about this is that they get just enough sun when put in a sunny place, cool place, yet the small open hole at the mouth of the jug means that enough air can get through to prevent rot or fungal buildup. And because it is filtered light, you don't risk burning young, new foliage.

Also, a great tip to tell if you are over- vs. underwatering: if your newspaper begins to develop a light mold on the outside, you are overwatering. If it is completely dry (even on the bottom), you might be underwatering, and need to water it. You only want to add about 5mm water depth each watering--this is enough for your potting soil to retain without promoting disease. I find that, once I remove the "greenhouse" cover, I usually have to water once a day.

Finally, when you are ready to plant your seedling, all you need to do is to make a hole where it will go, pull off the bottom, and plant it! For delicate plants, ones that are shallow rooters, or spreading-root plants, I like to also take a sharp knife or razor to the sides of the newspaper pot and slice through a couple of times--this way it's easier for the roots to expand.

The great thing about the newspaper pots is that not only are they decomposable, they are also a great source of nitrogen for your plants. And your milk jug tray protects them from tipping over, while also making it easier to water them in a way that maximizes root growth.

Anyhow, hope this helps someone. Thanks for sharing this, and happy planting. :)
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