How To Start Garden Seeds Indoors

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How To Start Garden Seeds Indoors

How To Start Seeds Indoors

(This post about starting seeds indoors for your garden originally posted on the old blog in March 2008.)

We started planting seeds for the garden the other day. I like to start my seeds indoors so that I have plants that are ready to go as soon as the garden season starts.

Containers for Starting Seeds

I used an old cake pan to set the little cups in. I did put a cardboard down so they wouldn’t tip over on the grooves.
Since we recently moved, I didn’t have a huge collection of covered deli trays like I usually use for starting seeds so I bought some little Dixie type cups. It cost $2 for 100 cups so it wasn’t a bad deal. I punched a hole in the bottom of each cup to give drainage for the plants.

Note the ice pick sticking up out of the top of the cups. I put a bunch together and just jammed it down through about ten of them all at once to punch the holes.

dixie cups for starting seeds indoors

I planted things like tomatoes in the Dixie cups. That way I don’t have to move them to larger containers before I put them in the ground in my garden.

I put the rest of the plants in the ten or so deli trays I did have. My lettuce is already up and ready to go outside! Yeah! At $1.39 for a head of lettuce, I’m happy about that!

I had a lot of “help” starting seeds so it did go slowly and, as you can see, I felt like I was one step closer to death that day. :-)

david helping me start seeds indoors

starting seeds is easy and quick!

I forced myself to sit up and get it done even though starting seeds was the last thing I wanted to do that day. I’m glad I did it because now I have some great starts going and my garden is going to be happy!

Happy Planting!

Here’s a video we made showing an easy way to recycle using free containers to start seeds indoors!



  1. Swinters says

    We use the paper egg carton for planting seeds. poke a small hole in the bottom and put your dirt and seed in and just cut and plant them when time to drop them in the ground. we also cut the lid off.

  2. Peggy Coffey says

    I have a purple thumb but I love planting all kind of plants. My mother could plant seeds in rocks and have them grow, so we always had beautiful flowers and vegetables all year. Can I really start plants in egg cartons? Are there certain plants that can’t start indoors? I love homegrown tomatoes, I am going to start some in cups now that I know I can. What book would tell me how to start plants inside and keep them alive all summer?

  3. andrea says

    so the mini greenhouse is just a covered area? On the last picture it looks like the middle is cut out of the lid…is that so? How many weeks ahead of when they can be planted outside should plants be started?

    • says

      I’m sorry I just realized my pictures weren’t that great. What it is is a cake container. You know the kind that you buy the birthday cakes from the store in.

      Then I just set my cups in there on the bottom and put the lid on it. I started them about 6 weeks before they needed to go outside. Here in Kansas that time is now.

  4. says

    Have I mentioned to you that I think you are AWESOME? = ) Your idea is brilliant and resourceful, two qualities I admire. A question about the dixie cups: do they biodegrade in the garden or do you have to remove the seedling from the cup at planting time?

    • says

      Laura you take the seedling out of the cup to plant it. Tawra saves her cups from year to year and uses them over and over again. She got them for very cheap at a garage sale in the first place.

  5. Sandra says

    I use everything that will hold a spot of dirt to start my seeds! Most of my seeds are started in the bottom of gallon plastic milk jugs or anything else of a similar size. When my seedlings get their second set of leaves I transplant them into separate containers – yogurt cups, saved paper cups, or most of the time newspaper pots. As I grow several hundred plants a year this saves my dining room being covered over with plant pots for an extra month or more!

  6. Suzy says

    I plant seeds in plastic egg cartons that easily fit on a window sill. I just poke holes in the bottom of one of the two egg cartons, put the other egg carton on top and tear off the flat “tray” of the carton to use as the “drip tray” when I water the plants. This egg carton/greenhouse fits nicely on my window sills. I just check it regularly and leave the top cover ajar if it looks like its too moist. It’s also great because I don’t have to make the initial separate pots for seed-starting.

  7. Swampfamily says

    Another great idea is the inner cardboard core of a toilet paper roll. It’s great as you can just put the whole thing in the garden and don’t have to disturb the plant and the cardboard will biodegradable.
    When planting out new seedlings I cut a 2 litre plastic soda bottle in half and then use each half as a mini greenhouse to protect the plant from the cooler weather and also snails and slugs. I Take the cap off the top half and make a hole in the base so that some air can get in.
    We have had such a terrible summer here in New Zealand and it is now autumn and the weather has suddenly become cold in the mornings and the days much shorter – I can really notice the change in my garden as everything has slowed dramatically. But it has spurred me on to get my winter garden going.

  8. danielle says

    love that idea i need to start doing that pretty soon like in thnex cope day going do all my vegies that will be sooo cool cant whate

  9. says

    I really hate this part of the blog.
    You talk about starting plants while I am looking at snowbanks and 2′ of snow in the yard. Can’t even see my raised beds yet.
    Can’t plant anything much until the beginning of June.
    But I do like coming here and reading about plans for other peoples gardens.
    I might put potatoes in again this year everything else takes too much work and I just can’t do it. Although my grandchildren will be here so I might do a few rows of carrots and radishes. They loved to pick them the last time they came.
    Oh to dream of spring.

  10. donnab says

    I have such limited space, does anyone have a recommendation for what herbs I can just grow on the window sill? I have nice deep ones, so narrow containers would work for me.

    thank you —

    donna b.

    • says

      Mint, sage, thyme, rosemary, basil. Depending on how much room you have you can do lemon balm, chives, parsley,oregano,bay. Pick the ones you will use the most and think small. Most herbs spread and grow a lot so you don’t need a lot of plants or starts.


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