Garden Hack: A Citrus Peel Starter Pot For Seedlings

This is one of those desperation is the mother of invention moments.

I recently discovered that Mr. Foxypants had thrown out my seed-starting tray “to make room in the garage.”

Don’t get me started on the “WTF-buddy-throwing-away-tools?” screed.

I’m still mad about it.

You don’t want to hear it anyway.

Since I’ve pledged to once again “Buy Nothing New For One Calendar Year” and this year is also all about making everything by hand, buying a new seed-starting tray was out of the question.

So I had to improvise.

Luckily, all my jam-making is providing me with epic amounts of citrus peels. Just poke a hole in the bottom of the peel for drainage, fill with potting soil, then add two seeds and some water.


After thinning to one seedling per peel, I’m going to transplant the whole ding dang thing into the garden. The peels will compost directly into the soil to nourish the plants as they grow.

Since oranges, lemons, and grapefruits are springtime fruit in Southern California, I’m guaranteed an endless supply of seedling pots.

I don’t think I can ever go back to my plug tray.


  1. doug
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    u rock. take my love and use it.

  2. Michele
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    I have been saving toilet paper rolls all year. Last Saturday I cut them into thirds, stuffed them with wet potting mix organic, and set the little “soil cookies” in 4 used (clean) cookie clamshells like you get at Safeway for five dollars. I stuck one seed in each little soil cookie, closed the lid on the clamshell and set them under regular fluorescent lights. The spinach is heirloom, so it is not as uniform as the Ferry Morse, but the biggest spinach is now 3 inches high, 6 days later.

  3. Herbalisto
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    I think eggshells are the best… 😉

  4. Posted February 8, 2015 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Hi Michele!

    Fantastic! I like to use the starbuck’s plastic cold drinks mug with the rounded top as mini greenhouses, but I like your clamshell greenhouse idea so much! Very clever.

  5. Posted February 8, 2015 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Hi Teresa–

    Some people have had mold issues if you read down the comments section. I live in LA which is pretty dry. My peels usually dry out before they mold, so I don’t get smelly peels or bugs. Some people have had better success popping the plants out of the peel before transplanting and others have just been able to transplant the peel with the seedling together like I do.

  6. Kathy
    Posted March 26, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always been told that citrus peels do not break down quickly so would the roots be able to spread? Think I’ll give it a try and see.

  7. Posted April 5, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    “We Both Had Classes And Agriculture Courses In High School & College And Have Often Referred To Your Site And Page For Gardening Tips!” THANK-YOU For All The Ideas, Tips, & HOME & GARDENING TECHNIQUES THAT WORK!”

  8. Posted April 11, 2015 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    @WeLoveAllTheseIdeas&GardeningTips! I am soooo glad to hear that ag is still being taught at the high school level….somewhere. You are so welcome!

  9. Chris
    Posted April 18, 2015 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Would the citrus peels make the soil acidic? Might this be a problem for some plants?

  10. Posted April 21, 2015 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Hi Chris-

    Yes, citrus peels ARE acidic. My garden soil happens to be alkaline, so the peels help balance things out. Nature is good at self-fertilizing. If you can grow a lot of citrus in your area, your dirt can probably handle a few peels!

  11. Posted July 1, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I really luv this idea. TEXAS has All Types of weather & I’ve always wanted to start a potted orange or grapefruit trees….. Couldn’t tell you the first thing about growing either of them though. * FFA* is very strong on the South with our STATE CONV. TX. July 11th in Dallas, this year. My Son has raised (2) pigs, a batch of chickens & numerous awards in Agricultural Studies & Horticultural for competitions. Wish more would join & show these types of things… building green houses up north & carrying on with all possible studies. Just wanted to share & I will be trying this, hopefully in a pot because we will have to move again in a year. Thanks

17 Trackbacks

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  13. […] Don’t have small seeding pots to handle? Thick citrus fruit peels can work just as well. You can fill them with dirt to start growing the plants and then transfer to the garden directly as the peel will decompose and nourish the growing plant there. source […]

  14. […] Just poke a hole in the bottom of the peel for drainage, fill it with potting soil, then sow seed and sprinkle some water. When the seedling is ready for transplant, plant it directly in a garden or in a container with the peel. The peel will decompose and nourish the young plant as it grows. Learn more on it. […]

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