Some extremely dedicated gardeners and some who live in the warmest climates have probably already started their seedlings for their upcoming edible gardens. Then there are the rest of us, buried under snow, dreaming about vine-ripened, sun-warmed tomatoes.

If you’ll be growing your own plants from seeds this year, it’s time to start saving containers for those seedlings. There is no need to buy containers. Just go check out your recycle bin.

Take a look at the picture above. It looks like one of those containers that salad mix comes in is being used as a little greenhouse. Inside two cut off bottoms of milk containers are used as seedling pots — eco-friendly, frugal and effective.

You can use just about any container as long as it’s at least two to three inches deep and you’re able to poke or drill drainage holes into it. You can also use any deep clear plastic container over your seedling pots as makeshift greenhouse lids.

Here is a list of things that you can use. Feel free to add to the list in the comments.

  • Yogurt containers
  • Butter tubs
  • Sour cream or dip containers
  • Tin cans
  • Plastic salad mix containers with attached lids — these are great to start seedlings in that are going to be transplanted to larger containers because the lid can be closed to work as a makeshift greenhouse
  • Egg cartons
  • Bottom of milk cartons — plastic or cardboard
  • Bottom of 2-liter plastic soda or other beverage bottles — save the tops you cut off to place over smaller containers as makeshift greenhouses
  • Toilet paper or paper towel cardboard, cut into three inch lengths
  • Newspaper pots
  • Plastic containers that mushrooms or other vegetables or fruits come in — the clear ones can be used as seedling pots or greenhouse lids
Don’t forget to have a permanent marker handy to label your containers once you’ve planted your seeds.

For some advice on when to start your seeds in your hodge podge of reused containers, Gardener’s Supply Company has some useful information. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Time to start saving containers for seedlings
Reuse food containers and reduce your need to buy new seedling pots or lids.