Monday, January 26, 2009

Re-use reduce

My family goes through cycles of consuming lots of juice . When they do, I save every juice carton.

When the time comes for planting out seedlings or cuttings, I cut off the top of the juice cartons with a box cutter or strong scissors and grow my seedlings in them. I also use the box cutter and make two triangle shaped cuttings at the bottom and press the carton in to allow good drainage.

Here are some of the reasons I really like the 1/2 gallon juice/milk cartons.

1. Its free (since you are already buying it).
2. I find that the taproot seems to develop better and doesn't grow in circles as in round shallow containers.
3. I use less potting medium.
4. Its easy to carry them/move them around, see the picture in this post. Recently with our freezes/cold weather I had to bring my seedlings in every night.
5. Its arguable that it helps reduce our growing landfills, yes I do throw them away at the end of their lifespan, but then again, it eliminates the need to buy more potting material (and throwing it away).

These containers only last a season or so, but by then its normally time to plant the plants in the garden or re-plant them into bigger containers anyway.

I also use 2Liter soda bottles in the same way, they last much longer, but I do find the labels break up in the sun into minute little pieces and find this annoying The other problem is that with the clear plastic, roots can get burnt and algae grows.


  1. Your seedlings look so tidy lined up by the fence. At first look I thought it was garden art. Wait, it is garden art! Very innovative use of cartons.

  2. Winter sowing and composting are also good ways to conserve. My blog has some ideas. thanks for your work on this.

  3. This is great. I do seed starts in baby food jars and egg cartons.

  4. How do you use the baby food jars ? I have been using peat pellets, but almost every single batch of seeds have rotted ! I recently started using the baggie method and have had some success with it, but some seeds just doesn't want to germinate. Last night I inspected my Eugenia stipitata seeds and saw mold all over them, I opened the bag, took the seeds out and yip they were rotten, this is the 2nd batch of them I've tried - you only get two seeds in a packet at $3.25, I could almost have bought a $15 shrub from my favourite rare fruit tree nursery !

  5. I confess I'm kind of willy-nilly with the starting of seeds. But at the time I had a new baby and tons of jars so I figured I'd put them to good re-use. These were the 1st-stage jars so most were small, too. But if you don't mind a little shaking, you're good to go. And the egg cartons were awesome because I just tore the carton apart and placed each sprout in the ground, carton section included.

  6. Sorry, meant to include a link to the post showing the sprouts crawling out of the jars and cartons:

  7. Our eggs come in either plastic or styrofoam containers, I tried it initially, but found it too shallow and it was a pain to cut the little cups apart in order not to disturb the little seedlings. I am starting to keep some of our tin cans, the longer ones that we get the tomato sauce or chopped tomatoes in. Since they're longer, there's more space for tap root development. I always check the recycle bin before taking out to the curb for usefull stuff :)