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Updated: Mar 3, 2021

Did you decide to start your own seedling to save money? But when you look at the long list of supplies you wonder, this does seem right.

Today I am going to share with you how you can start your seedlings on a budget. We are going to tackle that long list of supplies and discuss what is necessary and what you can change up to keep a little money in your growing budget!

In last week's blog post I talked about the benefits of starting your own seedlings and one of those benefits was saving money. It is very easy to see that purchasing a packet of 20 or more seeds for $3 is cheaper than purchasing just 4 seedlings for $5. I also talked about how just because we were saving money we were not going to be saving time. Time is a priceless commodity.

And you as the grower need to decide what is better for you to pay. And if the other benefits like more varieties, growing the way you wish, teaching your children, and many more benefits. If you want the whole list you can check out last week’s post titled, How To Avoid This #1 Mistake When Starting Your Own Seedlings.

A Big Investment

Now once you decide these benefits outweigh the time investment, the next step is to gather your supplies. These supplies are going to be an investment. And the first year you may wonder how acquiring this long list of supplies will ever save you money.

This is going to depend on how you look at things, if you look at growing seedlings as a one time adventure then all of the tools on that list will not be necessary. But if you see growing seedlings as a long term adventure where then a few of these supplies can be an investment.

The tips I am going to share with you are going to help you ease into the investment of growing your seedlings. I used this hack for the first couple of years until I could invest in some of the bigger purchases.

Grab your copy of the Seedling Supply List below!


Soil is not going to be an area you can save in because you want to purchase the best quality of seed starting soil you can find at your local growing center. Seed Starting Soil is going to give your young seedlings the perfect median to start growing. The soil is what is going to feed your plants, care for your plants, and give them a foundation for their roots. This is not an area where you should try to save money besides maybe purchasing when they are on sale in the early spring.


This is another area where quality is important. It is very easy to find cheap seeds at big box stores for 20 cents. But there is a reason these seeds are cheap. It all has to do with germination rates. Germination rate is how many seeds after planting do germinate. For example if I plant 100 spinach seeds and only 50 germinate then the germination rate of that planting was 50%. This is very low. Now no seed company has a perfect germination rate. But those seeds you find cheap are the ones with the lower germination rate and as a result you will have to plant more seeds just to get the number of seedlings you want. And this really doesn’t result in a savings of anything.


Trays are going to be another necessary purchase because what a tray does is contain the water and mess then can leak from your containers.

Now what you don’t need is that whole tray kit that most big box stores sell. You don't need the tray of cells or the plastic cover. The cover is only used to help keep your soil moist during the germination stage and is not needed again. You only need the tray that can be purchased separately.

One way that you can save from purchasing any plastic trays or containers of any kind is to invest in soil blockers and wooden trays.

Soil Blockers

A Soil Blocker is a device that is used to press soil into blocks that you can start your seeds into. This is what I use. You can get them in three different sizes. I personally love using soil blockers but they are an investment. In fact I didn’t purchase them for myself until my 3 year of growing seedlings. The picture below can show you what they are better than I could tell you. But they are easy to use and do help save money because I don’t need to purchase plastic trays or containers.

Soil Blockers only need to be purchased once and then used year after year. I have been using mine for about 10 years.


Like I said above you do not need to use the fancy seedling tray and containers. I personally don’t use any container because I use soil blocks. But before I got my soil blocks for my birthday, I used whatever I could. That included anything I could save from my kitchen and recycle. I have a list of ideas below.

You do need to make sure that whatever you use, be sure it is clean. You can clean them very easily with just a few drops of bleach in a gallon of water. Just soak the container in the solution and then leave it out to dry. The bleach will evaporate but all the germs will be killed in the process.

Types of different Plastic Containers

  • Small container, yogurt cups, water bottles cut in half, plastic egg containers

  • Medium container, Large yogurt or cottage cheese container, solo cups

  • Large container, gallon jugs cut in half, or other juice containers

  • Biodegradable Container

  • Small container, cardboard egg cartons, egg shells, pots made from newspaper, toilet paper roll tubes cut in half

Make sure any container you use that you poke holes in the bottom to help with draining!


I personally use well water that is not great for my seedlings. But town tap water is not the best either. So instead of purchasing water. You can just purchase a water filtering system to remove any unwanted elements that will harm your seedlings.

How you water your seedlings does not need to be expensive either. If you are watering your seedlings from the bottom up, you can simply use a jar and large bowl from your kitchen.

If you want to water from the top, you can modify a water bottle by poking a few holes in the lid and you have a gentle way to water your seedlings without drawing them.

Seedling Warming Mat

A Seedling Heating Mat is used to heat the soil to help your seeds germinate. Tomatoes, Peppers and other warm season crops germinate in soil temps of 65 to 72 degrees. And by warming the soil you can increase your germination rate and speed of germination.

A Seedling Heating Pad can be a big purchase, I do love mine, but one work around that I have used for years was to set my trays on top of the fridge. This area is higher and as heat rises this helps but my old fridge actually warmed a little from the motor that runs my fridge. Another option would be to place them over a vent in your home. The warm air will warm the soil. The disadvantage of this is that you will have to monitor your seedlings very closely. The benefit of having a heat mat is that it is controlled by a thermostat. So your soil won't get too warm.


You are going to need to supplement light there is no way you can get away from that and here is why.

Placing them in the window has two problems. The first is that the area just in front of your window is going to be too cold for your seedlings. The next is that windows are designed to not let in the full strength of the sun. They block large amounts of light your seedlings are going to need.

Also your seedlings are going to need 14 to 16 hours of bright light a day and with the length of the days in early spring your seedlings are not going to get all the light they need.

So you are going to have to invest in lights but it doesn’t mean you have to purchase those expensive grow light setups. I personally use a shop light fixture that you can purchase at any hardware store. You do want to make sure the bulbs you pick are white day light type. They will give your plants the prober quality of light for your seedlings

Also with lights you are going to need a chain or string to help make the light fixture adjustable. You want to be able to move the lights up and down as your seedlings grow to prevent legginess.

Power Strip with a Timer

This helps you set your lights on a timer. Like I said before your seedlings are going to need 14 to 16 hours of light. And for me that means my lights would need to be turned on at 6am and off at 10 pm. And personally I don’t get up that early or go to bed that late. So the timer save me from having to turn on and off my light when I would rather be sleeping.


Your seedlings are going to need space to grow under the lights so building or purchase garage type shelves from a garage sale will save you money here. When I first started growing my seedlings I got my selves for $2. I now have shelves that my husband built me out of recycled lumber.


A Dipple is used to make a hole in the soil for your seeds. You don’t need to purchase anything fancy. I use a broken pencil that I have marked with common seed deepths, like ½ and ¼.


I use Organic Fish Poop. This a natural liquid fertilizer and because it is liquid it is easy to dilute for seedlings.

Potting Up Soil

To save a little money here. You do still need to buy quality soil but you can switch to more of a potting soil. You do want to make sure that the potting soil you choose does not have slow release fertilizers in them as this can burn your young seedlings.


Labels do not need to be expensive. Just by purchasing a permanent marker the options are endless.


A tub is going to be used to hold your soil while you wet it before you put it in your container or pots. I personally just use a bucket but both a tub and trowel can be found at low cost at a dollar store in your area.

That finally gets us to the bottom of that big long list. I have shared with you the things you can live without, the things that are necessary for healthy seedlings, and the things that need to be looked at as an investment if you are looking at growing your own seedlings as a long term adventure.

Thank you for joining the journey, and until next time Pray, Just Plant!


A Big Investment- 3:21

Free Supply List- 4:44

Soil- 5:13

Seeds- 6:07

Tray- 7:28

Soil Blockers- 8:43

Pot/Container- 10:23

Watering- 15:01

Seedling Warming Mat- 17:45

Lights- 23:01

Power Strip with a Timer- 27:27

Shelves- 28:23

Dipple- 29:45

Fertilization- 30:19

Potting Up Soil- 30:52

Labels- 32:04

Tub/Trowel- 32:55

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