Fruit juice carton seed trays


How to create seed trays using recycled fruit juice cartons

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Science

Learning objectives

  • Learn how to upcycle an everyday object for growing plants
  • Learn how to sow seeds indoors
  • Develop knowledge of gardening terminology


Invite students to bring empty fruit juice or milk cartons from home for this activity.

Ensure items are clean before use.

Identify a suitable place for the seed trays to be placed to aid germination. Somewhere warm and sunny.


  • An empty 1 litre fruit juice or milk carton
  • Marker pen
  • Scissors
  • Peat-free compost
  • Seeds - lettuce, rocket or soft herbs such as chives, coriander or basil, as easy starters
  • Recycled or reusable clear plastic bag
  • Watering can (have a go at our recycled milk bottle watering can)

Step by step

  1. Place the carton on its side. Using the marker pen, draw a rectangle along the side panel of the carton, leaving a small border around each side.
  2. Cut out the rectangle with the scissors and put the cut panel to one side to use as a label.
  3. Fill the carton with peat-free compost, making sure that the surface of the compost is flat. If you are using small seeds, water the soil before sowing to prevent the water from moving the seeds around. If sowing larger seeds, you can water after sowing.
  4. Sow seeds onto the surface of the compost and cover them with a thin layer of compost.
  5. If sowing larger seeds, water now, ensuring the compost is wet.
  6. Cover the carton with a recycled or reusable clear plastic bag. This aids germination, helping the seed to grow, and reduces water loss through evaporation.
  7. Place the carton in a warm sunny spot such as a windowsill or in a greenhouse until the seeds have germinated. You can then prick out the seedlings to grow on.

Hints & tips

  • For safety, adult support will be needed when making the initial cut into the carton.
  • Use the cut panel as a plant label.
  • Use a permanent marker or chalk pen to write the label with so that the writing doesn’t wash off.
  • Slip the seed packet into the end of the carton to remind you of the growing instructions.