egg cartons for starting seedlings?

kawaiineko_gardener(5a)February 17, 2011

Just wondering if you could use these to start

seedling transplants in? Or would they be too small and/or depth too shallow?

I have large size egg cartons (from large egg) and medium size egg cartons from medium eggs.

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sjetski(6b NJ)

What will you be planting and how long are you "hoping" to keep them in the egg cartons for?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 7:43PM
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A bunch of different tomato varieties-cherry, tomatillo (Mexican variety of green tomatoes, they're in paper husks), slicer tomatoes, roma tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Maybe some herbs too, first ones that come to mind are basil and mint. Also flowers (if possible) namely for attracting bees for pollination (cosmos/and or zinnias).

As far as how long I'm hoping to keep them in the egg cartons for, basically until they're big enough (sturdy and strong enough with their root systems and as a plant) to be hardened off, but not so big that I'll have to repot them
to bigger containers while they're still being grown as transplants indoors.

I've been told that repotting them while they're still being grown as seedlings indoors will strengthen their root systems. However I don't know when you're supposed to do this, nor do I have any clue how to transplant seedlings as this will be my first time growing from seed as seedling transplants.

Somebody told me they can be repotted to bigger containers when they have 2-6 sets of true leaves. However I'm trying to avoid repotting, because I have a limited amount of space in which I can grow seedling transplants. I realize once they're repotted, since they'll be bigger, they'll be in bigger containers, which will take up more space.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 2:02PM
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I thought about using the egg cartons for seed starting but then I thought against it. I just do not think the shell is going to be deep enough to allow the root to form properly.

I even thought about transplanting out at a small stage, me though I do not like to repot or bump up my pots for seedlings unless it is a tree or shrub. The main reason is that each time a root is disturbed it will go through its "shock" period. It could take a week to a month to recover to start to grow again. If all year was spring or fall that probably wouldn't be an issue but here lol we get up to 110F in the summer with high humidity. So our planting times are limited unless you LIKE dragging around a water hose every day.

For me I can't say I would use them, but you will never know for sure till you try it.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 3:22PM
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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

how many seedlings are you starting?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 3:44PM
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Probably about 3-4 of each of what i listed.

So that'd be.....

About I guess the guesstimate I can come up with is 40-50 on the low end; the most I'd do at one time is 70-75 total (not 70-75 of each of the things I listed)

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 6:10PM
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sjetski(6b NJ)

After reading your followup post closely, i personally don't think you're the right candidate for egg cartons, mostly because, like myself, you don't like "potting up". Pepper/tomato plants aren't going to make it past the 3rd set of true leaves before they'll really need to come out of there.

Seed/plug trays are a good space saver, and most of them have more volume and depth than egg carton cells.

Also: Certain plastic cups can be organized in a way to save space. I've doublestacked (for strength) those taller 7oz wax cups in the past, and they worked well because they were narrower than other diposable cups. You can find them in supermarkets for dirt cheap, look for the 7oz cups that appear to be taller and narrower than the ones surrounding it. And if you do use them, don't forget to pierce a bunch of holes on the bottom and bottom sides!

Here's an inexpensive supplier of seedling plug trays:

Here is a link that might be useful: visual example of taller + narrower 7 oz cups

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 2:50PM
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luvahydrangea(Albany, NY 5)

I'm using an egg carton for some pepper seeds, but I plan to re-pot them as soon as they have their first set of leaves. I also did some in other larger pots, in case the ones in the egg carton don't work out. So an experiment of sorts. :)

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 9:42PM
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What makes anyone think each seed has to have its own individual cell? I plant my seeds in those clear plastic boxes about the size of a shoe box that come with a lid you can buy for 99 cents in target or the 99 cents store for 99 cents. Put about a two and a half inch layer of seed starting mix in it and plant about ten to 15 seeds in it spaced about 1.5 to 2 inches apart. When the first seed sprouts take the cover off and put the whole container under a fluorescent light or outside in full sunlight if it is above 50 degrees F outside. Take the container back inside at night if it will drop below 50.
You can reuse the box several times before the UV light starts to make the plastic brittle and break. I have a dozen plastic boxes going, each with ten seeds in it, so I can start 120 plants at a time. Since each plant has a lot of room to grow compared to the tiny cells in an egg carton or plug tray I can let the plants grow to about three or four inches tall before potting them up into individual four inch pots.
Pay the piper now or pay the piper later. If by using small cells to start your seedlings you have to pot up early you actually end up needing more lights because ten four inch pots take up a lot more room that ten plants in a shoe box.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 12:31PM
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luvahydrangea(Albany, NY 5)

I dont like planting in one big container, then I have to disrupt the roots too much when moving them.

To each his own. :)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 7:14PM
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Last year I read about starting seeds in eggshells (not the cartons) so I had to try it. It worked brilliantly! I carefully cracked each egg I used near the pointy end and removed the "cap" so that the majority of the shell was preserved. Then I rinsed them and poked a hole in the bottom with a metal skewer--this is easiest to do right away; if a shell dries out before you poke the hole, it tends to crack. I set the shells onto a sponge to cushion them as I poke the holes. Fill with soil mix, put back into the carton, and plant seeds. Since I use jumbo eggs, the shells provide generous room for the roots--moreso than just putting soil into the carton wells. Neat bonus feature: use an indelible marker to label each shell with the plant variety--no labels to lose or mix up! And no transplant shock--just gently crack the shell all over before potting up or planting outdoors, and plant the seedling shell and all. My seedlings did fantastically, and I am using this method again this year. It does require a bit of advance preparation since it takes a while to accumulate the needed amount of shells. I highly recommend this method.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 12:07PM
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luvahydrangea(Albany, NY 5)

mommy that is so cool! I am going to try that with my tomatoes when I'm ready to start them.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 2:00PM
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I used the egg cartons last year in my cold frames to get some seeds started. I would not recommend it because the cartons quickly break down. They pretty much fell apart when I picked them up and out came several of my plants.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 1:24PM
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luvahydrangea(Albany, NY 5)

My experiment was a fail. As mudman says above, they really fall apart and its almost impossible to keep them wet enough while not making them break down too fast. I won't do that again. :)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 5:11PM
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    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 8:36PM
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    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 8:39PM
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They're really cute but too small for anything other than a-few-weeks-old seedlings. Plus, there is no drainage which isn't good for plants. Poke holes.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 4:19PM
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For my two cents, I've found cutting the bottoms off soda and juice bottles is a cost effective solution. There is also 'grogan' which is used in hydroponics. If you google it, the company has videos on how to use it.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 7:21PM
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I've done it and it works. Use the styrofoam egg containers rather than the cardboard ones. Definitely punch a drain hole and be prepared to pot up when true leaves emerge.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 5:56PM
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I would think everyone would make their own pots out of newspaper rather than keep on changing pots and risk damage to each plant.
Seed-Starting Pots from Newspaper

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 10:41AM
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I use egg cartons all the time, but I buy Jiffy Peat pellets on sale at the end of the previous season... usually it works like a charm. But not this year. I started early this month (Feb)... the earliest I have ever started and my seedlings have not sprouted this year. That photo is from a previous year. Very frustrating. Anyone have any suggestions. What did I plant? Tomatoes. Cukes. Several flowering plants. Herbs. Watermelon. Greens. Different peppers... and more. It has been about a week. I usually have at least one or two after a few days.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 12:18AM
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A cuke sprout... and poppies... I am so thrilled. I moved the plants out of my window and set up a VERY makeshift grow light. I hung an old 40W tube light over them and put a small heater by the seeds. I surrounded the group of planted egg cartons with plastic boxes (toolboxes mostly) to trap some of the heat. I have been checking the thermometer about every hour and it is keeping at a nice 80 degrees. I hate... HATE spending money on stuff that doesn't work... but if this works I plan to make the real deal for next year. Will post a photo later.

This post was edited by TyWalsworth on Wed, Feb 20, 13 at 16:56

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 4:54PM
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steilberg(6 lou,KY)

how deep do roots grow before setting out?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 3:10AM
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