Time to Get Growing! —Buy Nothing New for a Year!

Tomato and pepper seedlings.

Tomato and pepper seedlings.

I love to grow things, like plants and little people. It is just so amazing to feed and water and tend to something and to watch it develop into a beautiful plant, or person! I grow flowers, but also as many vegetables as I can fit into my little green space. Nothing is more satisfying that growing your own food. An heirloom tomato from your

Basket of heirloom tomatoes.

Basket of heirloom tomatoes.

garden tastes nothing like the pale, bland tomatoes you buy in the supermarket. Plus, you know exactly what has not been fed to the plant or sprayed all over it. We’ll be growing some veggies this year to feed ourselves top quality food and to save some money.

March is the time to start seeds indoors here in the Midwest, and it helps get us through those last cold months of the winter, giving us hope for the green that

spring brings.  So, it is time to start planning and gathering supplies, and not purchasing them. Below is a list of a few of the things we’ll need to start seeds:

  • Seeds We already have seeds from gardens of previous years, so I’ll take inventory of those seeds. Then, I’ll likely spend hours looking at the Seed Savers Exchange catalog, drooling over their amazing selection of veggies. If I buy seeds, I buy them here. It is a great organization and they are not far away in Iowa. You can also do a seed exchange with neighbors! If you have any to trade, please comment below!
  • Seed starting containers Rather than buying seed trays, you can reuse multi-compartment  seed starting cell trays from previous years, small containers out of the recycling bin (just poke drainage holes in the bottom with an ice pick), or use toilet paper rolls. My mom sent me a link to Minnesota Locavore’s blog that tells you how to reuse toilet paper rolls to start your seedlings—brilliant idea! You can set the whole thing right into the ground in the spring, as the roll is biodegradable. Start collecting them now, even ask your friends and family for theirs!
  • Soil Instead of buying soil and compost from a home improvement or garden store this year, I’ll be seeking out compost and soil on Craigslist.
  • Covers I cover my seedlings with plastic to keep in moisture and heat until the seeds sprout. So, I’ll be collecting plastic lids that come with the used containers in the recycling bin and clear plastic bags that I can wrap around the containers and secure with a rubber band.
  • Markers You need to mark what seeds you’ve planted in each containers. I’ll be looking for waterproof things like plastic strips or something similar to write on with a sharpie and stick into the dirt.
  • Fertilizer Once the seedlings have sprouted and got their second set of leaves, it is good to fertilize them periodically. I’ll likely be on Craigslist again here looking to barter with a vermicomposter, or just regular compost to add to the seedlings.

I’m going to go and rummage through my recycling bin right now for supplies! Watch for the next post in the gardening series of Buy Nothing New for a Year on getting those seeds started. The rewards in the spring are worth all of our preparation now! Let’s get growing!


  1. Thanks for the link! I’d love to see how your seedlings go in started in the toilet paper tubes!!

  2. Erica says:

    If you or any readers are interested, I just placed a seed order and will have enough to split if anyone wants some. Early Contender bush bean, Black Magic summer squash, Regal hybrid spinach, radishes, Musquee de Provence pumpkin, Black Magic kale, Eureka hybrid cucumbers, Rosa Bianca eggplant, Bon Bon hybrid winter squash, and Li’l Sweet Canteloupe. I’ll be purchasing pea, carrot, and lettuce seed (or seed tape, most likely, for carrots and lettuce) through another source, as well. No charge or anything, just happy to share.

    • admin says:

      That’s awesome, Erica…thank you! Stop in some time and talk with Melissa, I’m sure she’s got some seeds she’d love to trade!