Cheap Planters to Start Garden Plants, or Indoor Garden.

Introduction: Cheap Planters to Start Garden Plants, or Indoor Garden.

About: I have been an industrial electrician for almost 10 years. This is why many of my projects are electrical related. I am working on a BS degree for LD&T.

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.

--Knife and or scissors
-- pen/marker

Step 1:

The first step is to rinse out your jug. don't wait, as soon as the jug is empty rinse it out or it will smell REALLY bad later. this is a 1 gallon jug.  mark your milk jug where it will be cut.  I always cut them just below the handle.  That allows me to get the most out of the jug. 

Step 2:

second step. You have 2 options, 1 cut all 4 sides of the jug and completely remove the top like the top jug, or cut 3 sides and use the uncut side as a hinge like you see in the bottom jug.

if you cut all 4 side the top can be saved and set back on top after planting, this makes a mini greenhouse. or you can through the tops in the recycle bin.  

if you cut only 3 sides the top of the jug can be set back up after planting, again making a mini greenhouse. this option keeps the top setting on better. 

i have done both in the past.  my recommendations: if you are only going to be using these in your home remove the top, if they will be setting outside at some time i would use the ones with the top still attached. 

Step 3:

if you cut the top off a 1/2 gallon milk jug, it can be used as a scoop. i keep 1 or 2 around.  there not the strongest scoop, but it works for scooping the loose dirt out of the bag into your new planters.  

i have also used the top as a funnel.  it has to be something you're filling that has a larger opening, but it has come in handy as well.

Step 4:

third step fill with dirt and add fertilizer.  i used a time release pellet style fertilizer.  now you can mix the fertilizer in, add seeds, then water.  

the last step is to mark the planter.  you can use a marker to write on the planter, or sometimes i tape the empty package to the outside. just mark them.  many plants look the same when they are just beginning to grow, save your self a headache and mark them.

Step 5:

this is a finished planter.  the plastic bag around it is just to keep spilled water from getting on my windowsill.  i set these in a sun facing window.  when the plants get large enough i will transplant them to my outdoor garden.  if you enjoy fresh herbs this would be a very cheap way to grow them indoors all year long. its hard to see, but there is a letter M written on the label. M for melon.

when i transplant the plants i also dump the dirt in the garden.  you loose soil every year from wind and being tracked out on shoes and animals.  after transplanting you may need to add more fertilizer, read the labels on the fertilizers.  after the planter is empty i rinse them out and put them away, keep these and use them again for many years.  this keeps them out of a landfill, and you are recycling or reusing a waste item in your own home. 

the top pic is a 1 gallon jug planter, the bottom with 2 planters were made from 1/2 gallon jugs.

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    2 Discussions

    The cloud 1808
    The cloud 1808

    4 years ago

    I do this I thought I'm the only one and this proves that I'm not yah lol


    7 years ago on Introduction

    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. :)