Newspaper and Plastic Jugs Start the Garden

Start saving plastic jugs from milk, vinegar and tea to use this spring. 

Heat mats are used to keep the soil around 20-degrees F warmer than the surrounding air and eager gardeners are using them to start tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, tobacco, savory, sedum and other warm season plants this month.

To use plastic milk jugs as seed starting hot houses, first wash the bottles with soap. Cut them in half horizontally to make a planting pot on the bottom and a greenhouse on the top. Poke or cut a few holes in the bottom for drainage.

Fill the bottom with 3-inches potting mix and moisten it. Plant the seeds according to the seed packet instructions and water gently to settle the seeds. Close the lid and tape the two halves together. Put your mini-greenhouses in a sunny location. The moisture inside will condense and water the seeds but check them once a week.

You can use a heatmat or make a warm-soil box with a little wood and a rope light. See

Make newspaper transplanting pots while you are waiting for the seedlings using the instructions at

When the seedlings have two or three sets of leaves, transplant them into individual pots.

Rabbits and other critters can damage young plants. To protect them, use a one-gallon bottle for each plant. Use a box cutter to cut a wide X in the bottom of each jug and then cut the X an inch up the sides.

Peel back all four wings of the X so the jug can stand on the wings. Remove the top 2-inches of the jug. See

When your plants and the weather are ready, plant as usual and place the plastic jugs over them. To secure the bottle, mound soil onto the wings and one-third of the way up. Leave the plant protectors on during the growing season, clean them in the fall and store for next year.


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