Don’t Throw Out That Citrus Peel, Use it to Start Your Seeds

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Sure, you can get a starter kit for your seeds, or you can turn something you probably have lying around the house into a useful and compostable (even better), seed starter. These materials are basically free, and you can feel good about their simplicity and earth friendliness. All you have to do is fill with a potting medium, start your seeds and, when ready, plant them in your garden.

Here are some of the easiest ways to start seeds by upcycling some common articles.


One dozen eggs mean a great breakfast for your big family and…24 seed starter cups. Eggshells are the ultimate natural seedling pot. Gently poke a few holes in the bottom of the shell using a large needle. This will allow water to drain. Add lightweight potting soil and plant seeds, and you are ready to go. When your plants are ready – dig a hole and set the entire shell into the ground. As the plant grows and the shell breaks down, it will add valuable nutrients to your soil. Save your cartons as well, as they make a great place to set your shells as your plants grow.

Citrus rinds

Are you a citrus lover? If so, this fantastic seed starter idea is for you. Empty citrus peels, that you would ordinarily discard or toss into your compost, make a great home for seed and young plants. Cut a lemon, orange or even grapefruit in half crosswise and hollow it out. Drill a hole in the bottom for drainage and fill the citrus halves with potting soil. When its time to plant your peel, everything goes into the ground and breaks down, releasing valuable nutrients as your baby plant grows.

Ice cream cones

Yes, they make a great holder for your favorite ice cream, but they also hold your favorite young plants as well. Ice cream cones easily degrade once planted in the garden. After you fill your ice cream cone with potting soil and your seed, the first couple of waterings will leave the cone a bit mushy, but after that, it will become stale and hold up well with additional watering.

Paper muffin liners

Paper muffin liners offer plenty of space to start seeds. Line muffin tins with paper liners (don’t use foil-backed liners) and fill about three-quarters full with lightweight potting soil. Muffin liners will hold up with light watering long enough for you to plant them, and your transplant, in the ground. 

Biodegradeable takeout containers

Put your favorite takeout meal container to work for you. With an ever-increasing interest in biodegradable containers, more and more restaurants are shying away from adding to landfill mass and switching to eco-friendly containers. Many of these containers have plenty of room to start seeds. Once you plant your takeout seed starter box, it will slowly breakdown, adding valuable matter to your soil.

Pulp paper pots

Making pulp paper pots is a great way to use up the extra paper you have hanging around. Rip paper into shreds and soak it in a blender with water. Add a little bit of flour and blend into a pulp. Drain the paper pulp using a cheesecloth and press the mixture into muffin tins to form into pots. Let the pots air dry or place them in the oven on very low heat to dry. Fill these pots with lightweight potting soil and plant away.

Happy planting!

-Susan Patterson

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