Introduction: How to Make Your Own Seed-starter Cups- That Are GOOD for Plants!

Picture of How to Make Your Own Seed-starter Cups- That Are GOOD for Plants!

A way to use recycled materials to make your own free seed cups. These are biodegradable, so there is no transplant shock, and include some coffee grounds for a natural nutrient source as the seeds grow! So far I have had great luck with these little cups- the seeds love them.
Inspired by a need for a biodegradable cup (these seedlings are so fragile!) and the basic idea behind paper mache (and the fact that I am trying to keep my first garden as cheap as possible!), they are easy to make and need mostly (if not entirely) materials from around the house!

Step 1: Gather Your Goods!

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You will need:

-Several old yogurt cups (small, short ones work best)
NOTE: You technically only need one cup, it just will take longer to create several paper seed cups because of drying time; I would suggest, if you have access to yogurt eating fiends, collect as many yogurt cups as you will make paper cups and knock it all out in one sitting

-Scrap paper (I used my boyfriends old school papers, but any **non-slick** paper should work just fine, too)

-A spray bottle with water in it (the bottle I used was a dollar at Lowe's, but if you don't have one on hand, you can just sprinkle water by hand too)

-Some used coffee grounds (estimate about one teaspoon for each cup) 
NOTE: Coffee grounds are good because of the nitrogen they will release; I don't know a whole heck of a lot about plants, but I'm sure there are some out there that DON"T want extra nitrogen, so just do a little research if you are especially concerned about your crop

And that's it! Well, eventually you'll need some seeds and potting medium too- if you actually want to use the cups!

Step 2: Line Your Cup With Paper

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I mentioned in the intro that this instructable was partly inspired by paper mache: here's where that part comes in. Essentially the idea is that, once you wet and shape the paper, and let it dry, it will hold its shape. It's not perfect, of course, since we're not using any glue or cornstarch here, but the paper does take on the new shape you put it in when it is damp.

SO...

Dampen some strips of scrap paper and push them GENTLY into the bottom of the plastic yogurt cup. Just use enough to make a lining, this part doesn't have to be super thick. Once you have a base layer, spritz it some more until thoroughly dampened.

As you can see, it doesn't need to be pretty!

Step 3: Add Your "super Food" (that Just Happens to Be Free...)

Picture of Add Your "super Food" (that Just Happens to Be Free...)

Time for coffee grounds. As the seedling grows and the cup degrades, these coffee grounds will be right there for easy access for the root system- providing yummy nitrogen and keeping some of your trash out of the trash! Also: if you are planting in a garden and not into pots (like me!) coffee grounds are great for attracting worms, which are also wonderful for your garden.

Just sprinkle a little bit of the grounds into the bottom of your cup. Easy, right?

Step 4: Add Some More Paper (just a Little!)

Picture of Add Some More Paper (just a Little!)

SO....
I like to cover my coffee grounds with another layer of paper: my thinking (whether accurate or not...) is that this will make the coffee grounds more of a "slow-release" fertilizer, since the seedling won't need too much until it is actually sucking up nutrients through its roots. 

Repeat step two by carefully laying damp strips of scrap paper on top of the grounds. I like to fold the edges over a bit, too, to give the paper cup some added strength while waiting for a sprout.

Step 5: Let It Dry!

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Just take your newly made, but still damp cup and put it in a sunny spot. The sunnier/hotter the faster it will dry. By letting the paper dry in this shape, you are encouraging it to STAY in this shape!

Step 6: Finished Cup!

Picture of Finished Cup!

Once the paper feels mostly dry, you can gently pry the cup out of the yogurt cup. If it is still damp on the bottom- which it probably will be- I would suggest leaving it upside down in the sunlight until thoroughly dry. 

Then...

You have a seed cup!

Repeat the process to get as many cups as you need for your garden-in-progress.

Step 7: Oh- Don't Forget to Plant Something...

Picture of Oh- Don't Forget to Plant Something...

What you see in the pictures is a very happy little spinach seedling. Since the cups are made out of paper, and seeds/seedlings need lots of water, I would suggest putting something (plate, saucer, top of a take-out container...) underneath to catch excess water.

Now....

GO GROW SOMETHING!!!

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Bio: I am into all kinds of randomness- crafting, gardening (new at this one!), cooking, DIY stuff: you name it, I'm probably experimenting with it ... More »
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