How to Start Seedlings: 5 Tips

Looking to start a garden? Here are 5 unexpected hacks to start your seedlings, from reviving last year's seeds to sanitizing your current ones.

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
2-minute read

Can You Use Last Year’s Seeds?

If you have old seeds that may or may not be okay for planting, test them out first: Pour a handful onto a moist napkin or paper towel, and cover with plastic wrap. Wait until the germination time has passed (check the wrapper for the correct time), and take a look at your seeds. If some are growing, the seeds are usable—just plant them deeply.

DIY Seedling Starters

Rather than purchasing seedling starters from the store, make your own using cardboard egg cartons or paper towel and toilet paper tubes. Slice the tubes into two- or three-inch sections—halves for short tubes and quarters for long ones—and set them on a tray. Spoon soil inside each one and place them in a warm, moist location to encourage growth.

More Ingenious Seed Starters

Homemade seed starters can also act as fertilizer! For instance, save the hallowed-out shells of citrus fruit like oranges and grapefruit. They make great containers for starting seeds. Just fill them with soil and seeds, and plant them after the seeds have germinated inside. Or, start seeds indoors in clean eggshell halves. Let them grow in an egg container, and when it’s time to transplant them outdoors, just dig a hole for the shells. After the sprouts are planted, the holders will decompose, leaving nutrients in the ground.

Seed Sterilizer

Keep that bottle of hydrogen peroxide handy for your garden! Its antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-viral properties will completely sterilize your seeds, boosting their germinating powers. Before you start the germinate the seeds in the spring, soak them in a solution of two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide for every one cup of water. Soak your seeds for 24 hours, or up to 48 hours for hard seeds. Add more peroxide solution as necessary to keep the seeds moist throughout their soak time.

Newspaper Nurturance

Are you starting your seeds outside instead of inside? Seeds need warmth, but not light, to germinate, so if you place newspaper over a newly sown area, it will keep the seeds warm while blocking out the light. Water right over the paper and when the plants get tall enough, add more soil on top of it.

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About the Author

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends' refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.

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