Tips for Plastic-Free Seed Sowing

It's easier than you think to weed plastic out of your seed sowing routine.

a woman fills seed pots

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Reducing plastic use in your garden, as well as in the home, is a good step to take if you want to garden in a more sustainable way. Today, I thought I would share some of my tips for plastic-free seed sowing.

It is important to be pragmatic, and longer-lasting plastic may sometimes be required. Undercover growing areas like polytunnels and greenhouses are one notable example; however, wherever else we can reduce our use of disposable plastic items, this is worth doing. If you are looking to reduce plastic as you sow seeds for your garden, here are some ideas.

Plastic-Free Seed Trays

Many people sow seeds these days in plastic trays. But for alternatives we need only look to the past. Traditionally, wooden seed trays were far more common and these can still be a viable solution today. Wooden seed trays can be made with basic woodworking tools.

Biodegradable Plant Pots

Plastic plant pots can proliferate quickly in a garden. We should make use of the plastic pots we already have for as long as possible, but we should try to use biodegradable plant pots for seed sowing.

Coir pots and other biodegradable options are increasingly available. But before you purchase new pots, think about what you might be able to use that is already around the house. Toilet roll tubes, egg boxes, and other small cardboard boxes, newspaper, scrap paper, and even egg shells or fruit halves with the fruit removed can all be turned into seed sowing pots for a range of different plants. 

Soil Blockers 

Rather than using plastic plugs or pots, we can also consider going pot-free when seed sowing, with a soil blocker. A soil blocker is a device used to press out small blocks of soil or potting mix. These are available for sale, but again, it's easy to make a soil blocker yourself.

Nursery Beds and Direct Sowing

When sowing seeds, you may not always need to use seed trays or starter pots at all. In certain locations and times of year, direct sowing can and should be considered when you are trying to go plastic-free or reduce plastic use in your garden. Consider creating a nursery bed or seed bed, either in a designated area of the garden or in an undercover growing area or cold frame. Young seedlings can germinate here and be moved to other areas once they are large enough to handle.

Other Items for Plastic-Free Sowing

Avoiding plastic pots and seed trays is not the only thing to think about when aiming for plastic-free sowing. There are also other ways to reduce it when sowing seeds. First, you can avoid purchasing seeds in plastic packets by propagating your own plants at home, and by looking out for seeds sold in paper rather than plastic. 

Another thing to consider is the tools you choose. Choose garden tools with wooden rather than plastic handles. Cloches, cold frames, and propagators do not necessarily have to be made from plastic. Using reclaimed glass glazing or other recycled items works, too.

Plant labels are another area where you can go plastic-free. Use natural or reclaimed materials, such as twigs from the garden with a flat section created for labelling, or old scrap wood or popsicle sticks.

Plastic is all around us, and it is not always easy to avoid it as you garden. But when it comes to seed sowing, avoiding single use or disposable plastics can be easier than you think. We can find a range of alternative solutions to help us garden in a more sustainable and eco-friendly way.