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  • What You Need To Know About Seed Starting Containers

    starting seeds


    Starting seeds can be a truly rewarding practice for the home gardener, but it does require some basic know-how and the right materials. If you’re new to growing plants from seed, it’s important to understand that not all products or DIY ideas floating around the Internet will yield the same results. Here’s a brief rundown of some of our favorite seed-starting containers and how they work.

    Recycled Materials

    Using material you already have is both economical and eco-friendly. Plastic yogurt tubs and salad boxes, as well as newspaper, are all good choices. Be sure your plastic is safe to reuse and the ink on the newspaper is nontoxic.

    Yogurt cups: Yogurt cups are large enough that you won’t have to transfer your plants until you put them in the ground or their permanent container. Just cut a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Be sure the container is not more narrow at the top than the bottom so that the plant will come out easily when it’s time to move it.

    Salad or pastry boxes: These are great for creating a sort of miniature greenhouse. For this method, you’ll plant many seeds in one container and transfer them to individual containers when they develop true leaves.

    Newspaper: It’s one of the few materials that will degrade quickly enough for you to be able to place the whole container in the ground or pot when your plant is ready to transfer. Don’t try to move newspaper planters when they’re super wet, and be aware that they can be time-consuming to make if you need more than a few. Here’s a quick tutorial. []

    Cardboard: Egg cartons and toilet-paper rolls are popular options because they are biodegradable. However, depending on your soil type, they may not decompose fast enough. Constraining the plant to the container would leave you with a struggling, stunted plant.

    Store Bought Containers


    If you don’t have a stash of recyclables or if you need a little more convenience, there are several options available on the market. Here are a few of our favorites.

    Plastic plug or cell trays: They aren’t biodegradable, but they are reusable, recyclable, inexpensive, compact, and practical. The cells come in different sizes, and many can be purchased with lids to hold in heat and moisture.

    Peat moss pellets: These are designed to go straight into the ground or pot, so they’re ideal for delicate seedlings that are prone to transfer shock. However, they are on the expensive side, so it may be best to use them sparingly. They also tend to be too small for certain plants, and some people report that the netting doesn’t degrade as well as it should.

    Fiber pots: Similar to peat pellets, fiber pots are biodegradable and ideally can go straight into the soil. But many gardeners find they need to tear off the bottom and parts of the sides to be sure their plants have enough room to grow. If any part of the container is above the soil when you transfer it, tear that off as well—otherwise, it will pull moisture away from your plant’s roots.

    Of course, these aren’t all your options, but they’re a great place to start. For information on other materials you’ll need and a general overview of how to start seeds, check out this article.

    More About Starting Seeds

    Learn more at Garden Therapy.

    20 ways to start seeds at The Freerange Life
    Ruth Gulley

  • Use a Planting Calendar

      If you start vegetable plants indoors, it is often helpful to list seeding dates on a calendar so that plants are ready for transplanting at the proper time. To do this, choose your transplant date and count back the number of weeks necessary to...

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  • Tomato Trials

    It is that time of year where we start thinking about our summer gardens!! ​Each year we have our Master Gardeners plant and rate a number of tomato varieties.  We also give a set to Tom Fowler with the University of Missouri Extension Service. ...

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  • Spring Gardening Seminar!

    Come and spend a day with us!  We are offering an all day educational event with a variety of presentations from edible flowers to everything you wanted to know about no sow gardening. $54.00 including lunch. The  keynote speaker is Jim Long, the founder...

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  • Storing Power Equipment for the Winter

    ​Late fall or early winter is a good time to service power equipment such as mowers, tillers and garden tractors. Run the equipment out of gas or treat the existing gas with a stabilizer as untreated gas can deteriorate over time. If using a stabilizer,...

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  • Garden Soil Preparation – It’s Not Too Late

    Autumn is an excellent time to add organic materials and till garden soils. Winter can still be a good time to take care of this chore as long as the soil isn’t frozen. It is far wiser to till now than to wait until spring when cold, wet conditions...

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  • Draining Hoses and Irrigation Lines

      Hoses and shallow irrigation lines may be damaged over the winter if water is not drained. If there is a main shut-off valve for the system, close it and then run through the zones to make sure any pressure has a chance to bleed off. Lawn irrigation...

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  • Protect Our Pollinators

    It’s Easy Being Green, Just Say No   By Dennis L. Patton, M.S., County Horticulture Agent, K-State Research and Extension/Johnson County “Protect our pollinators!” has become a mantra in the gardening world. Lead by the work of Monarch...

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  • Organic Does Not Mean Pesticide-free

    By Dennis L. Patton, M.S., County Horticulture Agent, K-State Research and Extension/Johnson County I was flying home after attending a recent conference. Seated next to me was a very pleasant person. We struck up a typical causal airplane conversation....

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  • Fall Colors of Trees

      Part of the allure of fall foliage is color variation. There are trees that turn red, purple, yellow, orange and brown.  Specific plant pigments determine individual colors. Foliage derives its normal green color from chlorophyll, the substance...

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  • Fall Planting of Asparagus and Rhubarb

      We sometimes receive questions as to whether asparagus or rhubarb can be moved in the fall. Though these crops are traditionally transplanted in the spring (mid-March to mid-April), a fall move can be successful. Wait until the top has...

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University of Missouri Extension Master Gardener Program