Starting Seeds in Milk Jugs

milk jug

Happy spring to everyone! Okay, it may not be officially spring yet, but don’t tell this weather–I don’t want it to leave!

I love starting my own seedlings. It’s cost-effective and it gives more options for varieties to try. There are countless ways to start your own, but my favorite way is to use milk jugs as mini-greenhouses to let the seeds get enough sunshine without being hurt by cold temperatures or rain.

Prepare

Wash the jug. Cut around the jug enough to be able to open it up, but leave a hinge of plastic so that you can close it back over the seeds. Poke holes in the bottom of the jug for drainage. You can also use vinegar bottles or even 2-liter soda bottles (although I hope you’re not drinking so much soda that you could start a whole garden in soda bottles! ;) ).

Plant

I have put seed-starting mix directly into the jug and that’s great for small seeds that you plan to transplant in a bunch. Flowers and herbs work well with this method.

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For plants like tomatoes and cucumbers where you’ll want to spread out individual plants in the garden, I’ve planted one or two seeds in a newspaper pot and filled the milk jugs with the pots.

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Label

Make sure you label your jugs! But don’t just write on the jug with a permanent marker. The rain washed all my labels right off the jugs last year! This year I used masking tape and wrote on the tape. It’s working much better. :)

Protect

I usually put the jugs out on our deck. But last year a giant windstorm came up and blew all my milk jugs off the deck and I lost half my seedlings! That was not a good day. :)

This year I have some carboard boxes (these are citrus boxes; you could ask at your local grocery store for banana boxes and they’d work well too). If I think it’s likely to be windy or stormy, I put the milk jugs into the boxes. This gives them stability and keeps them from blowing around.

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Keep the lids from your jugs. If you get a hard rain storm before the seeds have sprouted, you’ll want to keep those raindrops from disturbing your soil and displacing the seeds. If you forget to keep the lids (or lose them), eggshells work marvelously as long as the wind isn’t too hard!

Water

I used a spray bottle to mist the seeds this year after planting. It worked really well and kept the soil evenly moist while not disturbing the seeds.

As your plants are growing, you can keep the lids closed for a greenhouse effect to warm the soil and plants or you can open them up to start hardening them off for transplanting into the garden.

Happy gardening, and if you have tips for starting seeds, I would love to hear them! I’m always open to trying new things and I love hearing from people who’ve tried different things :)

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