The Summer of Seedlings

If you’re like the majority of Austinites, you’re probably a wannabe urban gardner stuck in a tiny rental space with an even tinier (if not nonexistent) yard in which to nurture your green thumb. Luckily our urban ancestors were clever enough to invent simple and sustainable tricks to work around the plights of indoor gardening, creating eco-friendly nurseries for little seedlings that are guaranteed to fit on any windowsill!

Soil, water, sunlight, and a seed: these are the basic ingredients to one of nature’s most resilient forms of life. Who says you can’t grow a plant from seed to stem in your 700 sq. ft. apartment? It’s time to whip these materials out of your recycling/compost bin and put them to even better use!

Toilet Paper Pots

Ever purchase a roll of recycled toilet paper and think, “I wish I could upcycle the cardboard roll too”? Well wish granted! Not only can the cardboard be directly inserted into soil when ready, you probably have about 6 toilet paper rolls sitting in your recycling bin as we speak:

1.Grab a toilet paper roll and cut it in half

2. Cut 4 identical slits in the roll, roughly 1/3rd of its length

3. Fold the slits around each other as you would a cardboard box lid (tape it if necessary)

4. Fill the bottom of the new eco-friendly pot with soil, add your starter seeds, and sprinkle in another small layer of soil

Once your seedling has outgrown its pot, simply unlatch the bottom (be sure to discard any tape!) and plant it directly in the ground. Make sure the entirety of the cardboard pot is submerged in the dirt!

Egg Shell Pots

Now those cage-free eggshells can go a step further in their lifecycle!

1.Be sure your eggshells are washed and cracked evenly (ideally it should resemble a pot without a lid) and hold them in a sturdy container — the original carton working best

2. Spoon in some soil

3. Add your seeds and sprinkle on another small layer of soil

Once your seedling has outgrown its pot, simply crack a small hole in the bottom of the shell and plant it directly in the ground. Eggshells are naturally compostable, so they’ll quickly biodegrade!

Newspaper Pots

Just when you thought newspaper couldn’t possibly be upcycled into anything else useful, they turn around and impress you again! (Photos courtesy of The Prairie Homestead)

1.Take your newspaper (1-3 pages unfolded, depending on how thick you want it) and lay it flat

2. With scissors, cut the pages in half at the natural fold

3. Take a glass or cylindrical container and wrap the newspaper around it, leaving only the bottom half of the glass exposed

4. Once you’ve established the pot’s shape and taped the newspaper in place, remove the glass

5. Fold the bottom of the newspaper pot and secure it with tape (make sure it can stand up on its own!)

6. Fill up your new compostable container with soil, put in your seeds, and sprinkle on another small layer of soil

Just like with the toilet paper roll, when the plant is ready to be transplanted into the ground, discard any tape and be sure the bottom of the newspaper pot is open so the roots  have easy access to the soil. Make sure the entirety of the paper pot is submerged in the dirt!

Other Biodegradable Seedling Pots

If you’re interested in purchasing 100% compostable seedling containers pre-made, check out the products from Cow Pots, Jiffy Peat Pots, & Fertil Pots.

Happy gardening!


The Purple Fig is a small Austin-based cleaning business with a socially-conscious, "green" mission. We curate meaningful employee and client experiences based on the concept of linked social and financial responsibility.

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