Living How to Make Your Own Biodegradable Seed Starting Pots: 5 Plans

Published on March 6th, 2013 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

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How to Make Your Own Biodegradable Seed Starting Pots: 5 Plans

seedling

A few years ago, the folks at CowPots sent me some samples of their “pots you plant” – and I loved them (and, yes, that’s an affiliate link). As a relative newb gardener at the time, I was open to anything that made the whole process of transplanting seedlings easier. Of course, I ran out of the samples they sent… so before going out and buying more to start seeds in this year, I started looking around for DIY options for biodegradable pots.

It turns out I’m not the first to think about this (imagine that!), and a number of people have shared their projects for making their own seed starting pots that can go directly in the ground and biodegrade. These may be some of the easiest upcycling projects we’ve ever featured: they don’t have to look good (since you’re going to bury them); they only have to function well. Here are the options I found for do-it-yourself biodegradable seed starting pots.’

1. Toilet Paper Rolls

We’ve all got these (and many of us, regardless of how green we claim to be, also have paper towel rolls). If you’ve also got a pair of scissors, you’re in business: just follow the lead of our old friend Mike Lieberman in this two-minute video:

Image credit: Chiot’s Run via photopin cc

egg carton seed starting

2. Cardboard Egg Cartons

No doubt, you started seeds in an egg carton at some point in your childhood… but likely the kind made from polystyrene foam. Egg producers are getting a bit greener on the container front, though, and cardboard egg cartons should work great for starting and transplanting seeds. These would even be great for helping with companion planting: cut out sections of the carton with the number of plants you want to group, and then start the seeds together.

Image credit: henna lion via photopin cc

starting seeds in egg shells

3. Egg Shells

With just a little planning during your next cooking or baking project, you can turn those egg shells that you’d compost into seed starting pots. Our friends at Eat.Drink.Better walk you through this very simple process.

Image source: Eat.Drink.Better

newspaper seed starter pots

4. Newspaper

Still get a print newspaper – even just occasionally? Sure, you can recycle it, or tear it up and use it for brown material in your compost bin. Or… you can make plant pots out of that newspaper after you’ve read it. This can be as simple as rolling the paper up into a cone, or you can get more elaborate with a papier-mâché project.

Image credit: henna lion via photopin cc

orange peel

5. Fruit and vegetable rinds

As with the eggshells, this one requires just a bit of forethought… but an orange peel, or avocado rind, can work great for starting your seeds.  Our friends over at Crafting a Green World have a number of ideas here

Got other biodegradable materials you use to make pots you plant? Share them with us…

Image credit: hfreesartography via photopin cc

Update (2/15/2015): Want to take this info with you quickly and easily? Share it? Download our new presentation from Slideshare (which I made with Haiku Deck)

How To Make Your Own Biodegradable Seed Starting Pots: 5 Plans from Sustainablog



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About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at



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  • http://ecolocalizer.com/author/rhondawinter/ rhonda winter

    I am inspired by some of these ideas for organic pots — so many different options there are. We have already had great success using egg shells for seedlings:
    http://ecolocalizer.com/2011/04/15/creative-reuse-egg-shell-planting-pots/

  • http://www.leangreenhealthymachine.com Chris

    This is a great article! I’ve been trying to encourage my readers to start planting/owning plants at home, not only for the environmental benefits but also for the many personal health benefits. Hope to see more articles like this one!

  • http://www.liquidfence.com Meg

    Hi Jeff! We are so glad that you are a fan of our CowPots. There are many inventive ideas online for creating transferrable seedling pots. The one major element missing? Manure ;) Our CowPots are made from a patented process that retains the enriching elements of manure, without the smell ;) We hope that when you see the difference, you will give us another go.
    Most Sincerely,
    Meg Watt
    PR and Social Media Manager
    The Liquid Fence Company

  • http://www.rusticfarmliving.blogspot.com Pamela

    I really like the idea of going green..in fact I grow an organic garden and harvest my own seeds from the years crop. I worked many ways to grow them and find paper towel rolls to be the best. I would NOT use toliet roll paper due to the nature of how they are handled. I have had test done and there is a good amount of fecal matter that is found on toliet paper rolls. So I highly recommend paper towel rolls as a subsititue. I’ve been an organic gardener for 8 years. I also grow lavender.

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