If you want to try growing your own bedding plants from seed this winter, start saving. Egg cartons, toilet paper tubes, cups and many items that would normally end up in the trash make dandy pots for small seedlings. As long as it holds soil and allows excess water to drain, anything goes.
Recycled cups are perfect. Just poke a few holes in the bottom of each cup and fill with good quality potting soil. When it's time to transplant your seedlings to the garden, tear out the bottom of each cup and then plant, cup and all. By allowing the rims of the cups to extend about an inch above the soil, you can keep cutworms away from your new plants.
Paper towel tubes, cut in half, and toilet paper tubes work great because they encourage deep roots. Stand the tubes on end in a tray, then fill them with soil. At transplant time, plant tubes and all without disturbing the roots. Water easily passes through the cardboard, which eventually disintegrates.
Egg cartons (above), with their small individual cups, work well for starting tiny seeds. If you use Styrofoam cartons, poke a drainage hole in the bottom of each cup. To plant outdoors, scoop each soil ball out of the carton. If you use cardboard egg cartons, you won't even need drainage holes. When it's time to move your seedlings outdoors, separate the cups and plant them in the garden without disturbing the roots, which grow easily through the cardboard.