Simple Greenhouse For Starters

16 Feb

It is time. Time to start seeds indoors. Admittedly, I have never been a fan of starting seeds indoors.  Like you, I get the fever, dash to the garden store and stock up on peat pods or attempt to start seeds in egg cartons.

Supplies Needed

Neither have ever, ever, worked for me.

What does work is a common, everyday storage container. 

If there is a Dollar General store nearby, one can purchase, dirt, seeds (3 for $ 1.00), and a storage box all for around ten dollars (total). I purchase “topsoil” and “potting soil” then blend them together.

I have found that shredded newspapers provide the perfect balance of moisture for this project. I line the bottom of the container with shredded newspaper and water lightly (just enough to make the newspaper slightly  “mushy,” but not so much to have “runoff” when you tilt the container.   Add several cups of topsoil and potting soil on top of the newspaper. Do not add the entire bag of soil.  Add more dirt  after the seeds have germinated.

I also have “loose” seeds I have saved from my parent’s garden, and from Farmer Billy’s garden.

Using a plastic knife (the ones that are always left over after any gathering) I label the seed rows just as I would in my “big garden.”

After planting the seeds, lightly cover with the potting soil and place the lid on top of the container.

"Rows" of Tomato Seeds

Now here is THE trick. Place the container in a sunny location, or, on top of your heating vent. This will heat the dirt and increase the germination time. Once the sun begins to shine, this greenhouse is portable. Keep the lid on, and take it outside for Mother Nature’s rays. One of the main reasons I don’t add too much dirt is to allow the plants plenty of room to grow. As previously mentioned, it is easy to add soil, but virtually impossible to “make room” for something once it grows out of the box.

Give this greenhouse a try and do let me know how it works for you, and Remember, keep those hands dirty!

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In The Garden With Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes a true life tale of her experiences in the garden with an 80 year old farmer. Visit her at


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7 responses to “Simple Greenhouse For Starters

  1. Nebraska Dave

    February 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Renea, all that fancy big box store seed starting stuff has never worked for me either. I have virtually given up on starting seeds until I get my seed starting station built. That will be next winter. In the mean time the supply of plants for my small garden operation will come from the family owned local nursery. I don’t really thing that they grow all their own plants but they are good strong plants that produce well. The rest of my garden I just sow directly into the soil at the proper time which doesn’t really put them behind all that much.

    Have a great seed starting day.

  2. renea

    February 17, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Thanks Dave. My Dad sows most everything directly into the soil, except his tomatoes. Would you believe that the day after I posted this blog I had tomatoes popping up? Of course, I also decided a heating pad might work as well as a heating vent! Now I’m thinking that the possibilities are endless.

  3. Aris

    February 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Now I have spring fever!! Great post!

  4. Man Martin

    March 1, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I love this idea. I just started my seeds indoors this weekend – they’re in the basement over a space heater. I once tried constructing a removable greenhouse out of PVC and plastic tarp. Huge disaster.
    Good luck with the book!

  5. Marianne L

    February 16, 2012 at 5:02 am

    Bet a chicken heat lamp might work haha 😉

    • Renea

      February 18, 2012 at 1:09 am

      You know it 🙂


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