Starting Seeds – Money Saving Tips

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Money Saving Tips for Starting Seeds

Money Saving Tips for Starting Seeds

Here are some of our readers tips on starting seeds…


Egg Carton Starters

I save money at the beginning of the year by seeding a lot of my plants and veggies in clean egg cartons, which I save during the winter season. I also place a pin through each egg placement for drainage when watering. When ready to transplant, you just pop them out of the carton with a spoon and place in the ground. Works terrific!

I also save coffee cans to cover fragile young veggies in the spring in case of a freeze which could kill them! Hope this helps! Thanks, S. Hendrick


Warm Spot for Seedlings

When you’re starting seeds for your garden, place the trays on top of the refrigerator. That nice even warmth will help them germinate. When they’re about 1″ tall, move them to a sunny spot. Louise Reilly Sacco,

Note from Tawra: I do this all the time and it works great.



Grocery Store Seed Starting

I buy a vegetable at the store and plant the seeds. I have so many papaya plants from one fruit. I am now taking the seeds and roasting them and then grinding them into a “pepper” for salad dressing.

I cut the eyes off of a few potatoes. I took large old plastic pots and put a shallow layer of soil and the eye cuttings into the pots. As the plants grow, I keep adding soil. This makes the plants stronger and grows more potatoes, and all for free.

I took cloves of garlic, broke them apart, and have lots of new garlic plants growing, also almost free.

Cuttings of tomato plants grow very well. I dig a small ditch and lay the stem into the ditch, leaving only a few leaves exposed. The roots develop rapidly, and new plants grow. I do not buy seeds or plants: I simply dry the seeds from a few tomatoes, and then plant them. The same goes for peppers!

I bought coriander seeds at the spice section of a grocery store, and I sowed them, a few at a time. Much cheaper than buying seeds, and the plants are wonderful.

I love ginger, and I did not know what it would do, so I bought a few roots at the grocery store. I now have about 12 ginger plants. They have not flowered yet, nor do I know how the roots will taste, but at about 40 cents, I am having fun watching them grow, and I am very hopeful.

I bought some dried beans in the grocery store, and ended up with wonderful bean plants around my fence, and a whole lot more dried beans, and the ones I cooked were delicious.

I also have about 15 banana plants that came from one small plant someone gave me. I freeze the peeled bananas, and eat them year round.

I grow all kinds of spices and herbs, and some of these reseed themselves. I divide my plants at the roots to make new plants. This works especially well for my lemon grass and tarragon.

My gardening area is rather small, at most 400 square feet total. I sure do love eating the fruit from it. I tried Nasturtium this year, and the flowers are plentiful and delicious along with my mesclun salad plants.

Oh, I live in Miami, Florida, Dade County. We have extreme heat and dry spells, along with rainy seasons.

Rosemarie Bailey


Landscape Fabric

I loved your gardening tips, especially using milk jugs as greenhouses for young plants that prefer to be warm, and the ideas for kids.

My vegetable garden tip is to lay down landscaping fabric and then plant. I start my own seeds so this tip is easy to use, I just cut an ‘X’ in the fabric but it could be used for direct planting of seeds too. Using landscape fabric saves me from having to weed, which I dislike, especially in the middle of summer when everything seems to be growing green and fast.

And since it doesn’t break down, you can use the fabric for years.  -Paige

Note from Tawra: You can find landscape fabric for really cheap at yard sales. I got some free landscape fabric from a rebate at Ace. I have to say this stuff has changed my life! I used to use newspaper but now if the soil is good I will use landscape fabric instead. It is much easier to handle than blowing newspapers all over Kansas! hehehe

If you can’t find landscape fabric for cheap then just use newspapers. I would wet them, lay them down and then put mulch on top. You only need to wet them if it’s windy out.


Cheap Seed Starting

Hi Tawra!

I have a frugal gardening tip for you to use or pass along. I came across an easy, cheap and reliable method of growing seedlings, called winter sowing. It involves recycling milk cartons or other containers and using them as starting containers and mini-greenhouses for your seeds. Check out her website and FAQ: I’m going to try it out.

-Sara R.

Note from Tawra: This is the way I sow my seeds. I use all the deli contains, pie containers, milk cartons, etc., that I can find and start my seeds in them.


Photo by: fotorose


  1. Mary Troutman says

    The photo in gardening basic 2, is using brick -o-blocks. the part on the top, do you plant vegetables in there also? If not do you have any problem with grass growing inthe holes. Thanks

    • says

      I was going to plant herbs and/or marigolds in the holes but never got around to it. Yes, we did have grass growing up through it but I just took some round-up and killed it twice a year.

      • says

        Round up is pure poison, and anything you put near it is poison, all your gardening work, and you just poisoned the soil and plants, and anyone who eats the herbs or foods.

        • says

          Tawra does know what Round Up is and what it does. She went to school for horticulture and has been a master gardener in 2 different states so she does know her “poisons” and when and how to properly use them. I myself wish it would work better. Vinegar and other “natural” things have destroyed more of my plants that I didn’t want destroyed then Round Up and I get frustrated too because for as deadly as Round Up is suppose to be in my yard the next year I still have a new and strong crop of plants and weeds where I put the Round Up. Usually I end up pulling my weeds by hand though and use nothing for no other reason then even “natural” weed killers can get expensive and pulling the weeds cost nothing.

  2. Valkaeryie says

    What about other practical tips like reducing cell phone costs since that’s a bill tht affects lots of people everyday or how to cut down on landline phones costs. I’ve realyl been interested in doing that and I just keep finding blog after blog mentioning prepaid companies and I was wondering if anyone here really considers them a money saver. I saw one advertised at Target and Walmart called Net10 and I’ve heard their coverage is good but their price isn’t the cheapest out there…any ideas?

    • says

      The best way to save on cell phones is not to have one. Most people think they are a need but they really are a want. Mike and I do have a pre-paid phone and it seems to work fine for us. We only use it now and then, don’t text and only when we really to talk. We don’t just do our daily “chatting” on it.

      • Jessica says

        We really find having a cell phone is a need (at least in our family). I work where I don’t have access to a phone and I also take classes (which there are no phones to use). The very few pay phones available hardly work. I have three children (ages 6-under) so it seems like someone is sick at all times. There are times that the babysitter needs to get in touch with me or I need to call places that are only open during normal buis. hours, or make arrangements for someone to pick up a child if I have a dr. apt or working late. However, we only have 1 cell phone and my husband and I trade off on days we will need it most.
        That being said, I used to have a traditional cell phone and I waited until my contract was up to start using a prepaid phone. I went with straightalk and even when I went to cancle my cell phone through AT&T they said anything they could to try to keep me to stay, but after explaining the plan I was going with, even they admitted they couldn’t beat that. When comparing plans, keep in mind that many traditional cell phone companies & landlines rates don’t include all those hidden fees (like state tax, interstate tax, fed tax, surplus charge, all these crazy things that add up to $15 plus dollars) and a prepaid you don’t have to worry about that.

  3. rose says

    my son has a go phone from at&t .. and it doesnt come with a contract that u are locked in … hubby has a metro pcs .. again no contract .. my daughter and son in law have t-mobile phones but they are under contracts and well wished they werent .. we had sprint phones a long time ago and was under the contracts .. and i did have a virgin mobile phone for emergency use only ..
    our cell phone (metro pcs) is only for emergencies or for long distance use only (he is disabled and if he needs to get a hold of one of us or if there is an emergency he has it with him all of the time) ..
    the prices seem to be the same for ones with contract or not ..
    i personally never take a cell phone with me bc i have noticed that if there was an emergency someone has a cell phone and will dial 911…
    if my hubby wasnt disabled at all and if there wasnt a need for one (like there was when we delivered newspapers, then it is recommended u have one bc its the middle of the nite and well just in case) .. then we wouldnt have one at all ..
    like tawra said .. its another expense .. is it a want or need.. that is the best ?? of all ..
    and as far as long distance charges, there was a time when we all didnt have a cell phone in the house (when hubby was first disabled) and i used one of those long distance cards that u can top up or buy new ones at the cumberland farms (gas station) .. and it worked well for me .. or my family just called me ..
    or we just do facebook or email each other too ..

  4. rose says

    and if there was a disaster (hurricanes, tornadoes, etc) .. not sure if a cell phone or even the landlines would work ..
    so not sure if any phone would come in handy at those times (hate to think like this but well, you have to) .. our neighbors, we all help adn look out for one another … and well i would like to think in time of a major disaster that we would come together and help and if someone’s has a phone or doesnt or has one of those radio’s that work on batteries we would spread the word out of what kind of help the local community will be doing or is asking of us (like when we had the hurricanes in 2004) .. just my opinion ..
    again.. good ??? .. is it a need or a want.. and can u really afford it ?..

  5. rose says

    also bc my sister and her hubby are both disabled and bc they are low income the state gave them a cell phone in case of emergency for free .. not sure if all states/counties etc.. do this but you could check this out .. they live in nj ..
    sorry so long .. 😀

  6. Cranberryrose says

    As a UC Master Gardener volunteer, I take hotline calls about garden problems. One caller had a disease on her tomatoes, and she had grown potatoes in that garden last year. By checking the internet pictures that I sent her to see, she told me the disease looked like the Potato Blight! All the symptoms fit. This is the same Potato Blight that wiped out the Irish potatoes. It also attacks tomatoes! It destroyed her tomatoes Though my dad grew potatoes from the grocery store, I feel it is risky. Buy clean seed potatoes. Avoid bringing disease into your yard.

  7. LR says

    Do you have any tips for keeping cats from eating my seedlings that have started indoors? I’d love to start my seeds rather than buying plants, but once they reach a certain size, they always seem to become cat snacks.

    • says

      Some of our other readers might have some better ideas but first I assume you can’t put the plants in a special room where you can close the door and keep the cats out of. If that is the case you might try buying a piece of chicken wire (I don’t think it is very much) and mold it and form it over a box that is about the size you need to cover your area where your plants are. After you have shaped it you can lift it off the box and just set it over the plants. You can make as many of these as you need. I say to mold over the box just so you would have something to shape it over.

      You also maybe could do some thing like take some old screen windows and lean them together against each other to make like a tent type thing leaving one side easy to open and close for watering. Without seeing where you have them it is a little hard because I don’t know how many you have or if they are on shelves or what but this might help to get the ideas flowing for you.

    • says

      Another thing I forgot to mention LR is you might try spraying something around the plants that the cats find offensive. Or sometimes they don’t like stepping on broken egg shells so you could rinse some eggs off, then crumble them around the plants. Both of these would be easier then making the wire boxes. Be sure if you spray something it doesn’t have Cayenne pepper in it because the cats can get it in their eyes and will rub them so bad it can cause them to go blind.

  8. Mary Jane says

    We live in northern B.C. Canada, so our growing season is very short. Usually people till up and plant their gardens on the long weekend in May, and killer frosts can show up any time after the end of August. When I start plants inside, (usually mid-April) I have found that I need bigger containers, in case the tender shoots can’t really be put outside until the beginning of June. Ordinary styrofoam or waxed drinking cups seem to do the job. A hundred styrofoam cups are about 2 dollars here. It is easy to poke a hole for drainage in the bottom with a cheap bic pen, and easy to label the outside of the cups. Fill them with dirt, seed them, and then stand them in a tray. Nasturiums are not only prolific and beautiful, they actually will bloom more if the soil is on the poor side. Flower petals from nasturtiums are edible in salads, and the seeds can be pickled, according to one cookbook that I have, to make “Mock Capers”. I am not sure what real capers are.


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