Arboretum News

Kids Activity: Starting Seeds & Celebrating Spring

Save your eggshells to make cute little planters for starting seeds.

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Start seeds in an adorable eggshell planter. Photo by Reba Luiken.

By Reba Luiken, Arboretum coordinator of informal interpretation

March 20 is the spring equinox, when there is twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of night. It’s also the first day of spring. There are lots of old stories about eggs that go along with the equinox. Some people even claim that an egg will be able to stand up on its end on the equinox all by itself. Maybe you can experiment with that one yourself! 

March is also a great time to get a jump start on spring and summer gardening.  Minnesota summers just aren’t quite long enough for tomato plants to grow from seed outside, and other plants can get started early too. Eggs can help! Half of an eggshell makes a great (and cute) seed starting pot. Of course, the Extension Horticulture team from the University of Minnesota has a lot more tips and specifics for starting seeds indoors.

Here are some types of vegetables they suggest starting inside: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, head lettuce, eggplant, okra, peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes.

Clean eggshells are ready for soil and seeds. Photo by Reba Luiken.

– Eggshells 
– Egg carton
– Moist soil
– Water
– Seeds
– A warm, sunny window (grow lights will work even better)
– Permanent markers (optional, for decorating)


1. Make something yummy and save the eggshells. I tried to make sure I was breaking my eggs near the middle so I could save both halves for planting.

2. Wash out your eggshells with soap and water. Decorate them with permanent markers if you want!

Make a hole in the bottom of your eggshell for drainage. Photo by Reba Luiken.

3. Make drainage holes in your eggshells. I put my thumb inside the shell and used my pointer finger to break the bottom of the shell so there was a hole big enough for water to escape. 

4. Fill your egg shells with soil. Make sure they are nice and moist.

5. Plant your seeds according to the package instructions. Remember, not all seeds need or want to be planted indoors.  Here are some suggestions: tomatoes, peppers and broccoli.

6. Water your seeds so the soil is moist, but not so much that your seeds are floating. 

7. Put your seeds somewhere they will be warm and get as much sunlight as possible. If you have uv lights, that’s even better!

8. Remember to check on your seeds and give them water if they are dry. You can test this every day by putting your finger into the egg pot gently to see if it feels moist. 

9. When the danger of frost has passed (around the middle of May for southern Minnesota), you can get your seedlings ready to go into the ground outside. An important part of this process is “hardening off” or getting the seedlings used to being outside.

10. Once your seedlings are ready for planting, make sure you break up the egg shells so they don’t get in the way of growing nice, strong roots!

Extension: There’s not really any scientific reason to use eggs to start your seeds, so you might also want to try out making seed pots from newspaper (or other recycled paper, too). We thought these seed starting pots made by folding newspaper looked like fun to make!

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