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Expert gardener reveals simple cost-effective hack to get a ‘head start’ on Spring planting: ‘I’m hooked’

“It’s also a great way to get a head start on your cold-hardy spring crops.”

"It’s also a great way to get a head start on your cold-hardy spring crops."

Photo Credit: TikTok

Rather than buying potted plants and transplants from a garden center, you can save yourself some serious money by seed-growing instead.

Gardening influencer The Cottage Peach (@thecottagepeach) has shared a hack for seed-starting without the need for expensive indoor grow lighting kits — and you don’t have to wait for the spring to get started either.

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What’s the scoop?

In a TikTok video, The Cottage Peach explains how to reuse old milk jugs to house your seeds as they germinate through the winter. 

Start by cutting the jug in half, leaving one of the corners attached to act as a hinge. Then, add drain holes to the bottom.

Next, fill the bottom half of the jug with soil and plant your chosen seeds. The Cottage Peach adds a label inside so she can identify her plants come spring. 

Replace the jug’s top and seal it back up with tape. Finally, place your jug in a sunny spot outdoors that is protected from the wind. 

@thecottagepeach Winter sowing in milk jugs is a seed starting method that works best with seeds that don't mind the cold, like self-seeding annuals and plants that are perennial in your zone. It's also a great way to get a head start on your cold-hardy spring crops. Are you saving your jugs? #seedstarting #startingseeds #gardenplanning #seedsowing #milkjugsowing #wintersowing #wintersowinginmilkjugs #wintersowingseeds ♬ original sound – The Cottage Peach

“Winter sowing in milk jugs is a seed starting method that works best with seeds that don’t mind the cold, like self-seeding annuals and plants that are perennial in your zone,” The Cottage Peach wrote in the video’s caption. “It’s also a great way to get a head start on your cold-hardy spring crops.”

How it’s helping

While seed-starting inside will give you more control over temperature and light, it usually means investing in grow lights, which inevitably increase your energy bills.

Gardeners can save money by taking advantage of the winter sun for those plants that can withstand colder temperatures.

A good place to check which plants will grow well in your garden is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plant hardiness zone.

The financial savings that The Cottage Peach’s hack brings add to those already gained from gardening in general. Growing vegetables, like tomatoes or zucchini, for example, is one surefire way to reduce your grocery bill. 

It also helps reduce your “food miles,” meaning the distance that your food has to travel from field to table. In 2022, it was found that ending all international food transport would cut food miles-related carbon pollution by 9%.

Consumers in affluent countries generate more than half of those international food miles and 46% of the associated pollution, partially because they tend to seek out-of-season foods that necessitate longer travel distances.

Growing a kitchen garden and adapting our diets to the seasons could reduce those carbon-intensive food miles. 

What everyone’s saying

Multiple TikTokers have shared their experiences of trying The Cottage Peach’s milk-jug hack.

“Last year was my first year and I’m hooked!” one wrote. “Especially native flowers & perennials.”

“I did it last year with a couple and they were the strongest plants!” said another. 

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