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How I Get Free DIY Seed Starting Trays

I never remember to buy trays or start vegetable garden seeds until after our frost date. I end up directly sowing the seeds in my container garden. My garden takes a bit longer to start producing food we can eat.

Most of the time I cheat and buy vegetable plants that have already been started. It’s a little more expensive way to garden but as a novice vegetable gardener it was a better way to go.

And also, the not knowing when to start seeds for planting thing.

I have the itch for an outdoor project but the weather still says no way. I scratched that itch by planting baby bok choy seeds from last year’s seed stash in our Aerogarden and put it in darkish corner where I had room for it. The baby bok choy and arugula are doing well. It’s wild how wide the grow light throws light into that corner of the room now.

I thought why not look up the best time to start vegetable garden seed in my area and use the Aerogarden grow light to start some?

I don’t have any fancy seed starting trays and even though I know seed starting trays are a click away here on Amazon it was a lazy weekend and I want to get this project started now while I had the time and energy to do it. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links for your convenience.)

Luckily, I had the perfect and free seed starting trays on hand – clean and empty take out containers courtesy of our weekly Take Out Date Night. I try to find ways to reuse plastic take out containers since I cannot put them in the recycling and in this case we ordered from a restaurant that we knew used plastic food containers like these. You can read my post 10 Ways to Reuse Plastic Takeout Containers here if you wan get more ideas on to organize pretty much everything you own with take out containers.

How to Use Plastic Takeout Containers as DIY Seed Starting Trays

It’s so easy I almost don’t have to write a tutorial but I will, because that’s what I do: I write tutorials and share things.

1. Poke a drainage hole in the bottom of the container.

2. Optional: Fill the bottom of the container with rocks (I used this perlite here ) to help with drainage.


how to start garden seeds

3. Fill the container with potting soil.

4. Plant the seeds in the dirt. I let my seeds soak in water overnight since some of them were old. Some gardeners say you can just wet the seeds before sowing, let them soak in water for a few hours. Other rebel gardeners just plop them from the envelop into the dirt.


DIY seed starting greenhouse tray

 If your container has a clear plastic lid you can lightly cover the container to make a mini greenhouse seed starting tray. Most of my containers have outage lids which won't work so I left them off of their containers.

5. Water the seeds and put them in a sunny place. I put my DIY seed starting trays on a tray to catch draining water so I won’t ruin the wood surface underneath.


Pin this money saving gardening idea to your Pinterest boards for later! Share it with your friends!

6. Watch them grow!

When (if?) the seedlings start growing and it is warm enough to plant them in a my container garden, I will harden off the seedlings by moving the tray outside in the sun for a few hours a day increasing the time as the days pass until they are ready to spend a full day outside.

Looking for more vegetable gardening tricks, tips, and ideas? Check out the following options – and more! - below!

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Great idea. I need to dig out some of my take out containers for my seeds. Congratulations, you are being featured on TFT. I hope you stop by. https://www.eclecticredbarn.com/2023/04/diy-projects-on-thursday-favorite-things.html