How to Label the Seeds You Plant for FREE
(or Really Cheap)!!
Have you ever looked around and couldn’t remember what you planted where? I have. Have you ever had to wait weeks to determine if those were pepper or tomato seedlings in that flat? Yeah, I’ve done that, too. I’ve also been standing in my garden, looking at a tiny plant, and wondering if it was something I planted or if it was just a weed. If I’d had all the plants labeled with any consistency, I’d have known instantly which water-thieving seedlings to pull. In today’s post, we’re going to give you some great frugal ideas on how to label your plants for free (or really, really cheap).
Sometime around Mother’s Day weekend, we usually feel safe getting the last of our tender seedlings into the ground on Burton Farm. It’s also an excuse to have the whole family out here in the garden together and I hope our tradition continues. My boys have been snapping off baby spinach leaves and cramming them in their mouths for weeks now. They think it’s hilarious to eat leaves! I hope this grows into a lifelong love of growing and eating their own vegetables.
We’ve soaked the black bean seeds for two days and they’re going in the ground today. Ok, actually, they’re not seeds from anywhere. It’s a bag of dry black beans from the grocery store. Same thing, but way cheaper.
Now, at the moment, the farm isn’t really generating an income for us beyond the sale of the goats, so I’m still on the hunt for FREE stuff to re-purpose. So this first suggestion really appeals to me and I think you’re going to get some use out of it this week.
Collect your yogurt, sour cream & cottage cheese containers & cut them into strips.
This can’t get any easier!
You were going to throw them away (or recycle them, where possible) anyway…
Just write on them with permanent markers.
You can write as fancy as you like, just as long as it’s legible. I’m sure some of my bullet journaling buddies could really show out on these.
Taking those plastic containers a step further…
Who’s to stop you from cutting holes in the little plastic tub labels for easy hanging?
I used a cheap hole punch from my crafting days, but you could hammer a nail through yours or poke a hot match to the plastic to burn a hole (use safety precautions, obviously). You could use twine or fishing line to hang the tags off a branch (especially helpful for remembering WHICH variety of tomato is which).
They’re also going to be super-easy to store on a hook.
Think about cutting up One-Gallon Jugs,
Extra Plastic Tumbler Cups…
& even a Five Gallon Bucket!
Expanding off of the free plastic pots, my husband got creative with a five gallon bucket that was destined for the trash heap after he had re-purposed the bottom half into a chick feeder. He sliced it into sticks about 1.25” x 7” for plant labels. Even though I write on them with permanent marker to identify the plants, it’s easy to “erase” them for the next batch (write on them with more permanent marker, then rub off all the marker with some elbow grease). Not super-pretty, but super-functional…and FREE. And sturdy & large enough to go outside in the garden.
Ok, now, if you have some of this lying around, cool. But these are so cute I’d consider splurging on a roll of this tape. Maria at My Minnesota Garden made her aluminum plant markers unexpectedly using…
Can you see all the possibilities for these adorable little flags?
How easy is this!? Genius!
I love the extra bonus of all the flags being the same material, even if they are in different shapes and sizes. How cute (and coordinated) would your seed starting operation be?
Ok, back to our free ideas….
Collect 1/2” twigs from your yard.
Shave off the ends at an angle & write on the exposed wood.
I used a super-fine tip marker since my twig was small.
Collect your used popsicle sticks, corn-dog sticks, & craft sticks; write on them with permanent markers or paint pens.
Or do what I did and stick the little baggies or seed packets they came in on them. It’s fine for indoor seedlings, but admittedly, it’s useless outside. We’re going for cheap and easy, here. Mostly cheap.
OK, fine, we’ll move on to the next idea.
Collect 2-5” smooth rocks
Write on them with permanent markers.
Or use paint markers like Emma did.
Or paint on them with leftover paint if you’re feeling fancy.
Seriously, some of y’all are fancy.
I’m going to get some pictures of your fantastic work and make a follow-up post pronto.
Paint stirring sticks from the paint department
I’m not telling you to go grab a hundred of these, but if you have some hanging around, they’re great!
I thought I had a couple, but who knows what I did with them, but fear not. Emma sent me some pictures of hers so you can take a look. She used paint pens to make them colorful.
While we’re showing off what Emma made, be sure to sign up for emails ( I won’t blow your in-box up!) to get access to my Subscriber Resources page, and watch Emma’s How-To Video on making your own long-lasting garden markers.
If you’re not saving the seed packets, you can just stick those in the dirt.
They probably won’t start biodegrading until after you’re able to identify the plant on its own. Probably. I wouldn’t know. My plants damped off in month two, so I don’t have an idea on how long it will last.
I don’t even have a sad little picture of it for you.
ON TO THE NEXT!!
Use leftover paint from other projects to label your plants.
Or just use permanent markers.
Try this on twigs, old wooden spoons, bricks, broken pots…
Some folks go all out and paint pictures of the vegetables they’re growing. I just wrote the name in marker.
Folks, just use what you have. If it won’t biodegrade quickly, then it’s probably a contender for a plant label.
You could simply color code them if you wanted, especially if you don’t have many varieties. Yellow for corn, Red for tomatoes, green for peppers, etc.
Or white, green, yellow, red, purple, whatever color the tomatoes you’re growing could be marked by a color of label.
You could tie ribbon on sticks if you don’t have paint. Or scraps of fabric.
Those cheap white plastic knives that never get used are great labels for your garden.
Seriously, we always run out of the forks and spoons, but never the knives. Does this happen to you, too?
Just write on the handle and stab them into the dirt. So easy.
I think you can get 24 for a dollar at the dollar store. Four cents per plant marker? Showing out there, Warbucks.
You can make free seedling labels out of all kinds of things. Click to see more ideas for free and cheap labels for your plants. Owning Burton Farm and Misfit Gardening are teamed up for a Frugal Gardening Series. Come see what we’re up to and get your garden started!
This idea is going to knock your socks off:
Do you have an old busted set of blinds?
Clip the strings, snip them into about 6 inch strips and you will have enough labels for each individual plant for a long time. You can find these things at a yard sale, Re-Store, even the trash can.
I sure thought I’d hit on an original idea, but it looks like someone else beat me to it. Check out this post from GetBusyGardening.com to help you visualize some ideas.
Pretty sure I hate the broken blinds in my bedroom even more now that I know I can do something really productive with them…Hint, Hint, Honey!
Bamboo skewers and …
Paper labels, Corks, or Just Color Coded with leftover paints
I don’t drink enough booze with corks to have them around, but you get the idea. You can write on them, jam a bamboo skewer in, and voila! Plant label.
I made cheap paper labels on bamboo skewers for my seed flats in the basement, by printing out my order form, cutting each variety out and then laminating it with tape while attaching it to the skewers. They’ll never make it outside, but are fine for keeping everything identified for now.
Get the Real Deal at End of Season Sales
I bought a pack of ten plastic garden markers for ten cents last year! A penny apiece? That’s cheaper than cheap!
After the season, even permanent marker wipes off easily and they can be reused.
Let us know what your favorite garden markers are and share your ideas below in the comments.
Is this your first visit to our Frugal Gardening Series? Or want more on our Frugal Gardening Series?
No, seriously, I gotta go re-pot this catplant. It’s overgrown its container.
Any of you know if they ever get rootbound?