Easy Seed Starter.




a simple, cheap way to get some seed started before getting them into the garden.


Step 1: Materials.

egg carton, any size.
plastic wrap.

Step 2: Step One. Osh.

first thing to do is cut off the top of the carton, save this for later.
then lay seeds in the carton.
cover the seeds with some soil, up to the bridges between the cells.

Step 3: When Osh Doesn't Have What You Need. Step Two. Lowes

now take the lid you cut off earlier. place a layer of plastic wrap on top, big enough to have a inch hang off.
now place the cells into the lid and water the seeds. the lid will act as a support to the cells.
when they get wet, they will get weak.

Step 4: Almost Done.

now wait a week or so depending on the germination time.
when plants are large enough transplant them into a larger container or directly into garden.
the egg carton is biodegradable and the soil will help the plant with nutrients.

Step 5: Notes.

it looks like this methods works for all my seeds.
don't know what to do with the top of the carton after planting the plants.
I'll update later if I think of anything.

Step 6: Update

as you can see the plants are tall and you can see how the roots find a way out of the bottom.
I cut along to row and planted it like that. makes planting corn easy.



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    66 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I made it and I didn't xD. I actually came up with a similar idea and it worked well, nice to see I wasn't alone to germinate seeds with egg cartons.

    I poked holes under the egg carton and used the lid as an "automatic watering system", just fill half the lid with water and place it under the holes, the soil will absorb all the water needed automatically.


    10 years ago on Step 4

    Does this mean that you just stick the new plants carton and all right into your garden?? I'm a new gardener and am looking to grow veggies w/my kids this year in an urban planter box in our back yard....I'd hate to get this far with the seeds just to kill them in the ground because I didn't take them out of the carton! (I'm so sorry if this is a stupid question!)

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    This is a little late for tillmancan, but can benefit others reading after this posting. 

    Yes, IF the egg container material is PAPER based, but not the plastic foam, it is perfectly acceptable to plant the egg carton "cup" with your seedling BUT...

    the spacing between plants in the "paper mache" type egg cartons is TOO CLOSE TOGETHER for proper plant spacing once in the garden. 

    So what I do is, when the seedlings are ready to plant in the garden, I use sissors to cut the "cups" of the egg carton APART, and then plant the cups WITH the contained seedlings at the spacing distance recommended on the seed packet.

    IMPORTANT: For this to work, the egg carton cannot be plastic foam, but must be the paper mache type made from ground up paper.  Usually you can identify this as the plastic or paper/cardboard material are clearly identifible by looking at them.  Also usually, the paper type is a grey color, while the plastic ones are usually bright colors, and shiny surfaced.


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 4

    if you are using the formed cardboard cartons, yes. it gets soggy and the roof sill just grow right through it. it's also biodegradable.


    Reply 1 year ago

    We mostly have eggs in 12's but lots of 18's too!!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Mostly they're sold by the dozen in the U.S.A. too, but one can frequently find 18-packs (and 3- and 5- dozen packages in certain stores).


    3 years ago

    Hi there! Nice instructable.
    How often do you water those seeds?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I use this method all the time, I have many egg flats saved just for this, when it is time to plant I saturate the egg flat and it is easy to pull apart the individual "plant pots" in the flat and transplant them without disturbing the plant or roots.


    6 years ago on Step 5

    I have never used the bottom of the egg cartons to plant seeds, but I love it & will try it! As far as what to do with the tops of the cartons, they make a great fire starter. You just have to use a small portion 4 x 6 inches as a "container" for your tiny/small kindling. Then you just light a corner or two & boom your fire will start up in no time. This is great if you have a fireplace :)


    6 years ago on Step 5

    Ravenc83: That is, indeed, some sweet, sweet corn. Great that the manufacturers notice this.

    I have plastic wrap questions. I have kale seeds that sprouted a few days ago. They're not ready to go outside (I have been told four true leaves, and these guys only have their cotyledons so far), but they are getting pretty tall. I'm afraid that if I leave the plastic wrap on, I'll (a) crush them (I could make a contraption to handle that) and/or (b) suffocate them (it's not airtight, more just draped, but it does prevent much airflow and/or (c) cause them to mold in there. Thoughts? Suggestions?

    For reference, I live in coastal, southern BC. It's permanently soggy here, hence the mold concern. We're past frost, but it's still very cold at night.


    Why don't you try it without the container? Soil Blocks are easy and work really well: https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Super-Cheap-Seed-Starters/

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Amazing instructable. I plan on starting my tomatoes like this. Thanks!


    8 years ago on Step 5

    Take any portion of your eggcarton mix it in the blender dry it out and sprinkle it into the garden the worms love to eat cardboard broken down to their capacity to ingest it. Want to give the worms a real treat take your grass clippings and your egg carton put that in a blender dry it out mix it with a little soil and now you have great worm food or simply use the mix as a soft potting soil. Plants love to grow in this mixture soil is rejuvinated. After drying re-blend one more time dry and your mixture looks like peat moss and ready to use. Last step: (to keep your wife from harming you) go and buy her a new blender, keep the compost blender for your self.


    9 years ago on Step 6

     I did this egg-carton seed tray recently, before seeing your instructable, and will also plant it all directly in the ground, but wanted to offer that probably not all plants will be strong enough that their roots will be able to push right through the form.  I pre-pricked the bottom of the cones before sowing seeds in.

    Also did one slight thing too of using top of egg carton as a seed tray for smaller seeds like lettuce. 

    These corn plants you've got look like they're off to a great start.  Kudos!


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 5

     Make a compost tumbler, they work faster.  Use an old trash can, or if you can get a hold of a 55 gallon barrel they work like a charm! You can build one, or just put it on its side and roll it around once a day. So much fun!