Starting Seeds In Egg Cartons

seed starting materials thesproutingseed.com

This year I’ve had major spring fever. By the end of March, I couldn’t wait to get outside and dig around in the dirt. It was still a little too cold to start my garden, so I decided to start my seeds indoors.

An easy way to start seeds indoors is to use egg cartons! I first did this when I lived in Hungary. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money and I didn’t know how to explain in Hungarian what I was wanting to do, so rather than buying some elaborate seed starting kit, I just used some old egg cartons!

This turned out to be a great way to protect the new little seeds from the fickleness of spring weather. Plus, you get to see life emerge up close and in the comfort of your own kitchen. It’s pretty exciting. I love watching the little seeds that were once in darkness break through towards the warm sun. Inspiring, isn’t it?

Paper egg cartons are bio-degradable and compostable so they can be transferred along with the seedling right into the ground/soil/pot when the timing is right. Using egg cartons to start seeds isn’t just for indoors. You can also keep them outside if the weather is warm enough. 

Starting Seeds in Egg Cartons

You need:

  • a paper egg carton
  • potting soil
  • seeds
  • *tooth picks
  • *plastic wrap

The individual dimples within the egg carton will be used as individual seed-starter pots.

1. Take an empty cardboard egg carton and poke a small whole in the bottom of each dimple to allow for water drainage.

egg carton thesproutingseed.com

2. Fill each individual dimple with potting soil. I used organic soil like this here.

dirt thesproutingseed.com

3. Plant seeds according planting-depth instructions (found on the back of the packet) in each individual dimple. I used these seeds.

seeds thesproutingseed.com

4. Mist with water regularly keeping the soil moist (but not soaked). You might want to keep the carton on a plate or something so the water doesn’t go everywhere.

5. *To give extra warmth and humidity (if needed), I like to cover the top of the egg carton with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap should be like a little tent. To prop up the plastic wrap, I like to position tooth picks in the middle of the egg carton (where the arrow is). Too bad I don’t have a picture to show you. :(

thesproutingseed.com

6. Place the carton in a sunny spot and watch the plants grow!

7. Once the seeds start to sprout, cut apart the individual dimples and plant the seedlings straight into your prepared garden or pot. There is no need to remove the sprouting seed from the carton, just plant the whole thing!

(As stated above, the paper carton is bio-degradable. If you start seeds in a styrofoam egg carton, you do need to remove the seedling from the carton)

Et voila.

sage thesproutingseed.com

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Comments

  1. I love this! I’ve been wondering whether it would be possible to start seeds in egg cartons, but thought that they would rot. Now I realise that this is actually a benefit! Thank you :)

  2. I appreciate this advice. Got a new gardening book for a gift and am excited to try growing seeds indoors for the first time. Will definitely use egg cartons. I am worried about when to start the seeds. Obviously I will check information on the particular seeds and consider the outdoor first planting time, but what if I get them started way to early? Will they just wither? Would you transfer them from the egg cartons to larger containers even before they can be outside?

    • Susan, great question! I usually plant my seeds according to a seasonal guide and haven’t run into this issue yet, but if I did, I would probably just put them in bigger biodegradable pots (you can find them here) and move them outside once the weather permitted. Also, this website is really helpful in knowing what to plant and when–>http://sproutrobot.com/ Happy gardening!

  3. I am sooo excited to try this! Thank you so much for the helpful article!

    liketaralee.com

  4. I’m doing this today! The only problem is that you really cant plant at a 1″ depth because there would be no room for root development. 1/4″ depth is about the deepest you can plant.
    I buy eggs is the 2.5 dozen carton (cardboard) so it’s a nice big flat…and I’ve been collecting them all year!

    • The 2.5 dozen cartons are great! I used them one time and my entire kitchen table was covered in seedlings. It was so fun!! Enjoy! I’d love to hear how it goes!

  5. It would be useful to describe how to “harden off” the sprouts before they go outdoors! If people just plant them in the ground, they might die. Baby plants need to get used to the cold and wind, but also the direct sun which is harsher than the sun they got through the window!

  6. Jonathan says:

    Do you find that planting while in the eggbox dimple, inhibits root growth? I’m tempted to try it as I get through so many eggboxes but I’m just a bit worried about this.

    • I too am concerned with this. The last time i tried starting seeds in egg cartons, they seemed to have a hard time growing roots through the carton and even at the end of the growing season the cartons hadn’t decomposed into the garden.

      • Allison says:

        Thanks for sharing, Andie. I haven’t had this problem, but it makes sense. I wonder if soaking the egg cartons in water before planting might help. I know commercial jiffy pots suggest this.

        • I just tried it today, and after watering the cartons and letting them drained, they felt pretty moist and were already starting to fall apart. I feel like they will disintegrate pretty quickly with watering. I’ll probably add some vermicompost and a few worms to the mix and feel confident the cartons will fall apart. (I just tried looking at the cartons to find a type or something. They feel like soft cardboard I guess…) Thanks for the tip though.

  7. I did a version of this on Good Friday with my niece. I saved the eggshells into the egg cartons so there was even more nutrients in the break down, although looking back now, they smell pretty awful so I maybe should have rinsed the egg shells out before storing them and then planting in them. Anyways, I wanted to also comment on the top piece of the egg carton which we used as the labels for all the different seeds we planted (just left it attached and wrote in the inside). I have also heard of it being a good support if you put plastic wrap inside it and then put it under the egg part (plastic keeps it dry so it doesn’t become weak like the egg portion). Hope this is helpful.

    • Great ideas! Thank you so much for sharing! What a special way to spend Good Friday with your niece.

    • Thanks for the tip, I was wondering what to do with the top of the cartons. They seem like pretty could trays, I was thinking of using them to grow herbs, like basil and dill. For labeling though I just marked each carton with a number.

      I store all of them in a large box that I cut down to size, a sort of cardboard tray. It makes carrying all four cartons around easy, and I don’t worry about making a mess if I over-water or anything.

      For the egg shells… maybe try grinding them up next time? leaving the yolk on is probably fine, I’m sure there are a lot of nutrients in that, but the shells themselves I think should be ground up and mixed in the soil.

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  3. […] a blog called The Sprouting Seed, you’ll find clear instructions and photos for starting seeds in a paper egg carton which is […]

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