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Re: Recycled containers for seed starting and uppotting

I Uppotted a couple of double-deckered 2KC tomato seedlings today. I took the two pieces of tape off, eased the bottom cup off, then cut the upper bottomless cup open to ease the rootball out. I originally intended to cut the bottom cup off, too, but I'm running out of K-cups and have to re-use these. Rubbing alcohol easily removes permanent marker like sharpie. Marks-a-Lot which DOES NOT FADE in the sun like Sharpie, needs a brief soak then a little elbow grease.
I got 5 oz drink cups at Walmart to uppot in and these narrow cups fit in a standard tray exactly. I'll post a picture later (iPad ran out of battery :roll: )

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Did I ever show which paper pot method I settled on? I’ve tried various methods for making paperpots, including glueing, stapling, taping, as well as no-fastener origami. My conclusion has been that methods requiring cutting papers to specific size and/or dimensions as well as those requiring fastening device are too time-consuming. My time is limited.

Newspaper, etc. thinner papers no matter how many layers are too flimsy.

I had tried toilet paper (TP) and paper towel (PT) core tubes in the past and failed. Several issues — open bottoms tubes resulted in lost potting mix and unacceptable subsidence. While kitchen paper towel tubes feel “cleaner,” they need to be cut down to size which disqualified them in the end in addition to the above issues. Cutting TP tubes in half was rejected.

They also tend to end-up with weird mushrooms growing out of them, or mildew, and other fungal growths. There was also the issue of too much moisture retention similar to peat pots, etc. Also, often seedlings ran into N deficiency/deprivation when the roots came in contact with the yet-unbroken down tube wall.

...HOWEVER... I kept going back to the TP tubes because the diameter and height of the tubes/depth for the roots were ideal for certain kinds of seedlings, especially ones that don’t like to be disturbed.

Well, I discovered that the fungi and moisture problems is partly a question of using a container for the tubes that drain excess water from the bottom and is more breathable than plastic. Using cinnamon and chamomile tea as fungus gnat preventive also helps to reduce fungal growths. Also, choosing seedlings that grow relatively fast and do not need to be kept in the tubes for too long, and are resistant to fungal contamination from these kinds of fungi. I also realized the N-deficiency issues could be overcome without burning the roots by introducing compost worms to the soil after the seedlings reach a certain size. They also help to break down the tubes faster and create weak spots for the roots to grow through, but I decided to help the roots even more.

I fiddled with the structure and assembly some more — this is my current design:
1) use a pill bottle as depth and base folding form.
2) cut 8 vertical slits in the sides to help the roots escape
3) 9 tubes fit with a little deforming in a straight sided ice cream tub.
4) after the tubes are all in, cut upside-down V between the tubes along the base of the tub just above the bottom for drainage.
5) put a leaf or a pice of paper in the bottom of the tubes before filling to temporarily keep mix from falling out, and use a cut-off plastic bottle funnel to direct the potting mix.


Ice cream tub fits well in a Chinese take out tray as drip tray. I prefer white ones for light reflection.

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I'd observed the same about the various DIY paper/cardboard seedling pots. I'm glad you mention you gave up on making them out of newspaper because I figured I just was too impatient or not thinking it through. It never was satisfactory for me. I like the idea of folding the end of a TP tube down a bit for the bottom, and slits in the side for eventual rooting through.

Good ideas.

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I can’t believe it! I realized I hadn’t posted about how I’m prepping the K-cups this year. I know every year, I change my methods and say THIS is the best way by far.... but I think maybe THIS is REALLY the final version :P

The first post at the top of this page (Page 8 ) details the progression in 2016. The doubled K-cup design was almost perfect except that when I was removing the rootball, I had to snip off the remaining corners and also delicately extract roots that grew out from the cut corners... which, last year, I decided was too much trouble.

So this year, I went one step further and almost completely cut off the bottom of the inner K-cup. The flap is held in place by the fact that it is doubled with the 2nd K-cup which is not cut at all and only has the single hole punched in the bottom by the Keurig machine. The top photo shows how I trim the top edge by cutting twice around with the utility scissors - first to cut off the rim and 2nd to cut free the filter.


By doubling the K-cup the container becomes sturdier. The flap allows the roots to escape without hindrance and removal only requires pushing the rootball out from the bottom. The roots that has escaped to the outer K-cup generally coils in the bottom and rarely tries to escape from the tiny hole. The moisture/humidity retained between the two cups from bottom watering helps keep the roots from drying out.

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I also use the toilet rolls and paper towel rolls, cut to size. Had the same issues with soil falling out when moving them, so I also started folding the bottoms over. The other thing I found handy is when planting the "tubes" into the beds, I gently partly cut the cardboard before filling in around it. This gives the roots more chance to spread before the cardboard breaks down, and since doing that, have had less failures.

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This thread is right up my alley I am a pack rat I save and reuse everything. I save 1 gallon milk jugs, 2 liter soft drink bottles, 16 oz soft drink bottles, water bottles, metal food cans, glass jars, styrofoam cups, plastic cups, wine bottles, deli plastic food containers, nursery 1 gallon & 2 gallon pots, plastic coffee containers, 5 gallon buckets, junk microwave ovens, junk TVs, cardboard boxes, styrofoam insulation boards, old water hoses, misc PVC pipe pieces, scrap lumber, used nails, tarps, ropes, wooden & metal stakes, and many other things too.

Poke a tiny pin hole at the bottom side of a milk jug fill it with water then set it next to a new plant in the garden that needs water for several day until it grows larger roots to stay alive without help. Water very slowly leaks out and keeps the plant wet.

Plastic coffee containers are good to keep fertilizer in. Leave them in the garden where they are needed rain will never get fertilizer wet with the snap on lid.

2 gallon plastic flowers pots work great for me to start seeds. Sprinkle 50 seeds on soil surface the large soil volume does not dry out fast if I forget to water for a week no problem. I scoop plants out with a tablespoon to transplant in the garden.

Metal food cans are good for adding iron to garden soil. Burn cans in a fire to remove varnish they rust faster. Keep cans in a 5 gallon water bucket they rust away in a few month. Bury cans in the soil they are gone in 6 months.

I use large 8" tall restaurant styrofoam cups to root cuttings. Put rooting powder on 8" long cuttings put them in 8" deep cup then fill with soil. Poke nail holes in styrofoam cups near the bottom all the way around the sides. Place cup in a plastic coffee container with 2" of water in coffee container. Cut bottom off of a 2 liter soft drink bottle place bottle over styrofoam cup like a green house. Leave plastic cap on soft drink bottle. Water in coffee container keeps cuttings wet for months. Keep this outside in full shade new leaves start to grow in 1 months, leaves are much larger in 2 months.

After electronic parts are removed from microwave oven for fun projects lay microwave over on its back fill inside with soil it makes a good flower pot.

Remove plastic case from old junk large 100 lb or 150 lb TV they make large free flower pots. I saw large 10 gallon flower pots $30 each at Lowe's last week.

I used a Root Beer soft drink bottle and clear plastic deli container to make my own clear see threw covid-19 face shield. Those masks with ear straps get tangled in my glasses & hearing aids plus they tickle my face & nose and fog my glasses so I can not see.

I have collected 6 large kitchen stove cardboard boxes, refrigerator box, kitchen cabinet boxes, to build several projects. Paper tape, stapler, glue, makes it easy to build.

I have an assortment of different size glass jars for seeds and dry herbs.

Empty plastic cat food bags are great to remove dry beans from pods. After first bean harvest let remaining beans make seeds and dry on the plants for 1 month. Put dry beans/pods in bag beat bag against a tree of brick wall. On a very windy day pour beans on a tarp the light weight dry pots blow away then beans on tarps are ready to scoop up into jars.
Last edited by Gary350 on Sat Jun 20, 2020 5:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Great hints & suggestions .

I'm conducting a private war, or at least a few battles & major skirmishes, against plastic. So I try to avoid acquiring any more of it; as well as wringing the last possible use out of whatever I already have. My frugal upbringing/nature helps a lot :).

Those waxed (?) milk cartons can be used to grow deep roots on tomatoes. You can slit them part way down the corners and fold the sides down (hold down with rubber bands) to make smaller pots until the seedlings start strong growth; then bring the sides up progressively, adding more soil around the stem until you have a deep-rooted plant ready to set out.

Cardboard tubes: Make a few slits up from the bottom to form tabs you can bend under to keep the soil in. I also use a kitchen fork to poke small holes near the bottom to help roots escape. It's good to bury the top rim of the tube when transplanting; if sticking up it can wick moisture away from the soil.

I've tried various origami-type paper pots but in my case they tend to suffer from the same drying-out syndrome; unless I keep them very wet, in which case they lose strength & often fall apart.

I now have several of these OJ bottles (plastic, Grrrr). With the bottoms cut off and the caps off I think they will make great cloches.

Fun projects with microwave parts? I'll pass on that one. Sounds as though it could be hazardous in the wrong hands (like mine.)

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I am a chronic recycler/repurposed! When you are on a tight budget it's almost mandatory. I raised chickens for about five years and after thoroughly reading and researching ways to do it I found that the possibilities are limited by your imagination only! I found free stuff everywhere and located leftover materials of my own that functioned fine (I'm all about function over form), and have no regrets as it worked out well. My coop was actually an old A frame swing set!

I currently use seed trays my mother had in storage years ago. They work great.

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I continue to use cookie boxes from the supermarket for starting seed.

( ;) I wish that I hadn't used tinypic etc. for photo hosting on the forum, long ago ;).)

Something somewhat new is that I use berry boxes from the market. They require extra material and effort but we have had quite a few available. The multiple holes in the bottom and the lid are too many. It's necessary to cover the entire box with a plastic bag. A piece of the bag is then cut to fit into the lid when the lid is cut off the box to be used as a tray beneath the box for the time before the seedlings are moved into 4-packs.

All that is not as efficient as the cookie box. A smaller-size container that works better is the one used at the deli for sandwiches. Holes for bottom watering have to be punched but the sandwich boxes are not common to our shopping habits.


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