I’ve been inspired by Joe Lamp’l’s attempt to start seeds on the cheap. (See Joe’s blog here and The $25 Victory Garden Facebook group here.) I wish I had thought to do this before I spent $24 on empty seed flats earlier this spring.


At first, I thought I would like the milk bottle starter best on top right, as it has a flat side. To open, with a utility knife, I cut three sides of a rectangle on the milk bottle’s side facing the top, leaving the last side of the rectangle uncut so that it can act as a hinge. Inside the bottle I layered 2 c. water topped by 3 c. potting soil formulated for seed starting. Last, I scattered spearmint seed over the soil, then used my fingers to cover it up just a bit. I taped the whole thing shut along the cut lines with packing tape.

However, the two-liter soda bottle (pictured bottom left) ended up being my preferred starter. After removing the label, I used packing tape to attach two wine bottle corks to one side about three inches apart. This is a very nice solution to keeping the bottle from rolling about. Then, as I did on the milk bottle, laying the bottle on it’s side, I used a utility knife to cut three sides of a rectangle on what is now the top side of the bottle, leaving the last side to serve as a hinge to fill the bottle with water (1 c.), potting soil (1-1/2 c.) & some seed (I used oregano) scattered on top and lightly worked in with a finger tip. I sealed the bottle shut with packing tape.

I think the two-liter bottle is the superior choice. It’s more slender and will fit on many window sills. It also is more transparent, allowing for better sun. Ironically, I believe it is more sturdy than many of the purchased seed-starting flats. When the seedlings are ready to transplant into the garden, take off the tape and the seeds then can be easily scooped up and replanted.