Garden Thyme, Spring

Starting Seeds Outdoors In Recycled Salad Containers

Happy spring, friends! Here’s a quick post on how I recently started some seeds outdoors in recycled salad containers. I eat a lot of pre-packaged salad mix, so I thought I would recycle/repurpose the containers and put them to good use.



I purchased several packages of seeds last weekend at a local hardware shop that were half price at 50 cents a pack, and my son also gifted me a buch of fun seeds for my birthday. I just couldn’t wait another 4 weeks to direct sow them in the ground so I decided to use the salad containers outside. Somewhere in this moving mess I have many more seed packets including many organic lettuce seeds that will be fun to grow in my recycled salad containers.


Since we have so much going on at the new house and doing repairs on our current house to put it on the market, I don’t have a large budget for landscaping this year. I want to try to grow as many flowers as possible through seeds. After the glorious show from cosmos, giant marigolds and zinnias I enjoyed from inexpensive seeds last year, I now know it is possible to create a beautiful garden from seeds in just one growing season.



Bully Tools

I don’t really have a good place indoors to start seeds, so I rely on the winter sowing method or in this case, “early spring sowing method” of planting seeds in plastic containers, watering them in well and leaving the containers closed until time to transplant. In the past I have used plastic water jugs to start seeds in January and February, similar to the picture above.



The containers absorb heat from sunlight during the day and hold in moisture, providing an alternative to starting seeds indoors with a heat lamp. I am a little later this year, but I still think I will get good germination and be able to set out plants early in the landscape with more success than if I waited to direct sow in late April or early May.



To prepare the salad containers for planting, I washed them  and  removed the labels to allow plenty of sunlight to pass through the tops. The great thing about these containers is they work as little-mini green-houses, retaining heat and moisture once closed. The seedlings are completely protected from frost, pests and wind, so they can be outdoors earlier than direct sowing. They also don’t need to harden off to adjust to outdoor temperatures like indoor seedlings do.


Burpee 8qt Natural and Organic All Purpose Seed Starter, image 1 of 5 slides

I chose Burpee Organic Seed Starting Mix because I have had success with it repeatedly in the past. I simply filled the containers 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full of soil  (equal to about what a seed starting tray depth would be)  and planted the seeds according to the depth and spacing on the packet.


After planting, I watered the seeds lightly until the top of the soil was completely moist but not soggy. I need to pick up a spray bottle and completely mist the top of the soil this afternoon to really make sure there is no dry soil. A spray bottle works well because the mist is less likely to disrupt the seeds. After the seeds are sufficiently watered I will close up the little salad container “greenhouses” and keep them on my patio table in direct sun until transplanting time. 

*It would have been better to pre-moisten the soil before planting. I will do that with my next r0und of seeds.


sweet alyssum interplanted in a raised bed

Savvy Gardening

I started with chives, parsley, white allyssum, cilantro and shasta daisies. I think it will be so pretty to tuck the allyssum in around my herbs in my new little raised beds! I am out of soil, but plan to pick up some this evening to start marigolds, cosmos, and many of the herbs my son gifted me for my birthday. 


That’s pretty much all there is to it! Most of the seeds I started take 10-15 days to germinate. I will update this post as time goes on to let you know how things turned out, and then hopefully share a new post after I actually plant the seedlings at our new house!


Have you successfully used salad containers or other plastic containers to start seeds outdoors in this manner? I love hearing from you! 

Thanks for visiting today!



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  • Reply Barbara at Mantel and Table

    Brilliant! I can’t wait to try this – too bad I have to stay at work today, otherwise I’d rush home and do it right now! (If there’s any salad in the containers, I guess I’ll have lunch first!) 😊 Thanks for the great idea!

    March 30, 2023 at 1:01 pm
  • Reply Debra@CommonGround

    This is such a great idea! The price of flowers at the nursery is over the top expensive, so I need to try this. Can’t wait to see an update. I need to grab some seed starting mix. Have a great weekend!

    April 1, 2023 at 10:15 am
  • Reply Barbara Chapman

    Amber, ironically, I did the same thing with seeds this year ~ beginning them in salad containers! I gasped when I saw the title in Thursday Favorite Things. I hope your new gardens are just as lovely as your former one has been!! I have hollyhocks in milk jugs, lisianthus and ranunculus in the salad trays, and mini tomato trays filled with other things. <3

    Happy packing, Happy Easter!
    Barb 🙂

    April 2, 2023 at 8:24 pm
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