Following on from the last blog, in which I set out my favourite composts for seed sowing, I thought it might be helpful to do the same with seeds sowing containers. Again, there is a wealth of information out there on which containers are the best ones for your little seed babies, but here, for what it’s worth, are the solutions that have worked best for me.
Before we begin: Anything you use to start off seeds should be scrupulously clean, to prevent mould or other nasties from coming into contact with your seedlings. Remember that a warm, humid environment is needed to aid germination, which is also the PERFECT environment for the proliferation of microbes, good and bad. So wash anything you’re sowing into, with hot soapy water (I use Dr Bronners Sal Suds, or just plain washing up liquid will do) and dry the container thoroughly too.
My favourite containers for sowing seed.
Existing plastic pots and trays. You have more of these hanging around in your garden than you could ever imagine! Use them until they disintegrate, (it’s still pretty impossible to recycle them effectively). Plastic really is a great material for seed sowing containers. If you are sowing lots of seed, then seed trays are the best solution. Bear in mind that you will eventually have to pot on all those seedlings though, so make sure you have enough pots for that! I tend to use small plastic pots and sow small amounts of seed into them.
Recycled food cartons. If you run out of plastic pots, or if you are new to gardening, old plastic food cartons can serve extremely well as seed-starting containers. Ice cream tubs make very good seed trays (just punch some holes in the bottom) and grape cartons, complete with holes, also work well, particularly for seeds that like a deep root run (such as sweet peas).
Coir jiffy 7 pellets. I wrote about these in the blog before this one. They are self-contained pellets made out of coconut fibre, set within a compostable membrane. You simply put them in water to inflate them and sow directly into each one. They do need some sort of a tray with sides to help them stay upright, and they are more expensive than using existing containers with bought compost, but they make potting on incredibly easy - just remove the membrane and put the entire lump of coir into the next pot. It’s a zero waste, zero mess option.
Newspaper pots. Disclaimer: I’ve never used paper pots, but I have excellent gardening friends who do, and they swear by them. Most of us have old newspaper in the home, and you can make yours as large or small as you like. It’s zero waste and incredibly satisfactory. The paper is easily removed once you’re ready to pot on, and then obviously it’s compostable. I have my eye on this seedling starter set, which includes a dibber and a tamper, along with two sizes of pot maker, but if you don’t want to shell out for it then this video is brilliant - a bit origami but I love the fact that they are square.
Loo rolls. You can use loo rolls in the same way as newspaper pots but without the bother of having to make them up. The trick with these is to collect enough that they all stand up next to one another on a tray. They are particularly good for sweet peas, again because of their depth, and of course you can compost them once you’ve used them.
I hope this has given you some inspiration for your seed sowing - you certainly don’t have to go out and buy new kit to start sowing - all you need is some sort of pot and a warm place in which to germinate seed!