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How To Sprout Garden Seeds Indoors without Spending a Fortune

By Edited Oct 16, 2015 7 13

Spring is just around the corner and it'll soon be time to begin gardening. Buying starter plants at the garden center can be costly, even if you plan to grow a small patio garden.

While you're waiting for the last danger of frost to pass, you can start to sprout seeds indoors. Whether you want to grow a vegetable garden or a colorful perennial flower bed, you can start your garden plants indoors right now at very little cost.

Things You Will Need

Seed Starting Soil

An empty egg carton

A lamp or sunny window

A watering can

A pencil

A packet of seeds

Step 1

Begin by recycling an egg carton. These useful containers will hold just enough dirt to give your seeds a fast start while allowing for easy transplant of your seedlings.

Cut the lid off the egg carton along the fold line and save the lid to use as a base.

Turn the egg carton over and poke a hole in the bottom of each egg cup. You can use the point of a pair of scissors or a sharp knife. Make only a small hole to allow for drainage.

Step 2

Egg Carton

Buy a small package of seed sprouting soil. Packaged Garden Soil is available at most Dollar Stores or garden centers or Home Depot and Lowe's. Many grocery stores carry Potting Soil and Seed Sprouting Garden Soil too.

Step 3

Potting Soil

Pour a small amount of potting soil into each section of your egg crate.

Using a pencil or the end of an orangewood stick, make a tiny hole in the center of the dirt about one-half inch deep. Drop a seed into the hole and push the dirt with your pencil to cover it up.

Step 4


Place the egg carton and base on a cardboard box with low sides. You can line the box with aluminum foil to keep the moisture from bleeding through.

Put the seed container in a sunny location, or south facing window where it can get a little sunshine if possible. Or you can use a clamp lamp to provide some light and heat.

Wait about 8-10 days and your plants will begin to sprout.

Step 5


When your plants reach about one inch in height, transplant them using a plastic spoon to scoop the entire ball of dirt with the sprout and place it into a larger container. You can use recycled Styrofoam cups, the base of plastic soda bottles, or empty coffee cans as temporary planters. It helps to use a coffee filter in the base of your container for ease of transplanting the young plant to your outdoor garden.

A small package of tomato seeds will cost you about a dollar and will result in nearly 100 starter plants. Depending on the size and packaging of your seeds, you can begin your garden for a very small amount of money.

Once all danger of frost has passed, move your seedlings to a prepared garden patch where they'll get lots of natural light. Happy gardening everyone!

Tips & Warnings

Keep your soil moist using a recycled spray bottle and a watering can. The small egg cups will require daily watering.

Get your kids involved in growing garden seeds. They'll be more likely to eat vegetables that they have grown themselves.

Use adequate spacing when transplanting your seedlings into an outdoor garden to avoid crowding.



Feb 6, 2010 7:35am
That is a great idea and you can do it with a variety of vegetable seeds or as you said perenials.
What annoys me with buying young plants in punnets you get 1 doz or so and then take lettuces for instance they all mature at the same time by doing this your way you could plant a variety of seeds then 3 weeks later do another batch.

That way you have an ongoging garden without overdoing it all at once good article thanks for sharing
Feb 6, 2010 8:18am
eileen, I love the idea of starting the plants at intervals to create an ongoing crop. Thanks for adding that tip! This way your crop will continue to give you produce as needed over the summer.

This method of seeding works for most types of plants. I tried green peppers, cantaloupes and watermelon last year with great results. By the time it was warm enough to work in the garden I had a bunch of young plants ready to go. It's fun watching them develop and produce vegetables!
Jun 23, 2010 7:06pm
Thanks for the great article!
Jun 27, 2010 1:05pm
My husband just finished planting the tomato seedlings today! He is teaching our twins the joys of gardening.
Jun 27, 2010 4:04pm
Hi there snowfence. Good to see you here on the IB. Thanks for stoping by to comment.
Jun 27, 2010 4:06pm
mommymommymommy, Wow, twins. Double your pleasure? I hope they enjoy the gardening. Good way to get them interested in their food and veggies.
Jun 28, 2010 8:06am
Great idea for growing vegetables from seed, they taste so much better.
Jun 28, 2010 11:34am
Kristara, I just started doing this after a trip to the HomeD to buy tomato plants at about $3 each. It is fun and economical, and they do taste better than the pretend veggies at the store.
Jun 29, 2010 2:29am
Great tips and ideas. Thank so much for posting this.
Jun 29, 2010 11:24am
Hi Juicymentality, Thanks for dropping by to read.
Jul 5, 2010 2:28pm
Great tips on starting seeds indoors.
Jul 6, 2010 9:33am
Thanks Lynsuz.
Jan 12, 2013 8:14pm
Poor mans tutorial for sprouting garden seeds...I love it. Very nice article and photos.
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