Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mini Greenhouse Veggie Starters

My genius friend Sharon told me about these a couple of years ago.    They're milk jugs.    You use them as mini greenhouses to start seeds in.   I use them for my peppers, tomatoes and eggplants.  

Start things early [in February, here] and they can stay all snug in the jugs until it's safe to plant them out in May.   In the meantime they can get big in these.

And they're double protected from goofy March weather because I keep these mini greenhouses inside the cold frames and hoop house where it's not going to freeze.

Genius, right?    I love them!

This is what you do.

Save your milk jugs.   Then cut them like this.  Cut all the way around but don't cut them under the handle.   This gives them a lid that stays on, but that you can bend open if you need to.

I cut them with scissors - just stab the scissors in right there under the handle and cut, cut, cut.

Then I poke holes in the bottoms using a skewer.  Or a screwdriver.   Or Lily's pocket knife because she always has it with her and my pocketknife is always in my purse.   Except for that one time that I took it out before I went on an airplane because I didn't want to be arrested for potential terrorism or have it confiscated because it's a cool little pocketknife. 

Poke lots of holes.  Maybe 8-10.

Usually I forget to poke the holes in the jugs until I have a couple of these full.   I hate that.   That's why I'm reminding you to poke your holes before you put the dirt in.

So don't forget.  

Then I fill the bottoms with this stuff.  From right to left:   chicken dirt, sand, potting soil. 

I love chicken dirt.   You can read about it here and here.

In this order, I put in 2 scoops of chicken dirt, 4 scoops of sand and 4-6 scoops of potting soil.

Or you can use plain old dirt.   It works too.

Then I plant my seeds and put labels in the jugs.

Don't forget the labels.   If you grow 6 varieties of peppers, you'll want to know which one is which.   Or not.   It might be fun to plant a big row and see what's what later. 

I spray everything down really well with a spray bottle full of water and I bend the lids back over to close them up so they stay nice and snug and then I tuck them in the cold frame or hoop house. 

Check them occasionally to make sure they don't dry out too much.    Seeds do not like dry.   Keep them moist.

This will give you a nice head start on veggie production for the season.   That's important when you have a kid whose only vegetable is tomatoes.   


  1. This. Is. Genius. Even I could do it. Bless you.

  2. Wait. Do you leave the screw-lids on or off? I'm guessing off?

    1. I have mixed feelings about the lids. I leave them off so I don't cook the plant, but I'm thinking that as cool as it's been this year, leaving them on would be helpful. So - I think I'd leave them on while it's under 60 degrees and take them off above that. [Too bad I threw mine away already....] Snowing here again. Again.

  3. "...and my pocketknife is always in my purse." I don't know why this made me laugh. I'm wondering if you also have a hammer, screwdriver and garden shears in there? But at least you know where your pocketknife is. I think mine is in a school bag with my whiteboard markers and flash drives...and I have no idea why.

  4. What a very cool idea!! I can do this- thanks for sharing, Robin!
    Carol Watson


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