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If you are like most gardeners, you probably have a mound of plastic multi-pack containers growing in the basement or piling up behind the garage. You know, the dirty, crumpled flats right next to all of those gallon pots you plan to reuse. Sure, you may be able to reuse them once or twice, but when they eventually break down, most will end up in a landfill. Here is an old idea for inexpensive, do-it-yourself seed starting pots made from newspaper. When your seedlings are ready for the garden, just pop them in the ground-pot and all.
Tips: Once you have filled your pots with soil and planted your seeds, it's a good idea to place the pots side by side in a large, waterproof tray (a cardboard flat lined with a garbage bag works well). Keep an eye on moisture levels. The newspaper will provide for some natural drainage, but thick pots will drain more slowly.
When seedlings are ready to transplant, either unroll the pots to gently remove seedlings or, carefully remove the tape and plop the entire pot directly into the ground. Because the newspaper is biodegradable, it will break down in the soil relatively quickly once it is surrounded by dirt and moisture. Again, keep an eye on moisture levels. If the pot was still in relatively good shape when you put it in the ground, it may act like a wick and soak up surrounding moisture.
Another genius idea and almost ready-made! When using toilet paper rolls for this, remember that cardboard is thicker than newspaper. It will hold up better to frequent watering, but break down more slowly once it is in the soil. As an alternative to planting the pot, simply cut the roll down the middle to free the seedlings for transplanting or tip it upside down and slide them out.
Directions: Cut 1/2" to 1" strips around one end of each roll, fold the strips under and secure with a piece of tape. You are done! Paper towel rolls can be cut down to make multiple seed pots. Set a covered basket in the bathroom to collect the rolls.
Most newspapers are made with safe ink now (although you might not want to use the color comics pages), and they are biodegradable. Garden centers and catalogs sell kits for making these pots, but they are upwards of $20. I don't have money like that, so I looked at a picture of one, and how to make the pots was apparent. It is easy and free, and amazingly fast, once you get the hang of it. This is how I do it:
You don't need any glue, tape or any other adhesive - the way you form the pot keeps it held together securely.
Take a newspaper with the first fold unfolded and cut it into strips. For seeds that need to be planted deep, like peas and beans, make the strips wider. Other strips can be cut an inch or so narrower. The lines of print help you cut a straight line.
When you have your strips cut, cut them apart at the middle fold. You need only one thickness of paper.
Now wrap one of the strips around the form, leaving about an inch of the paper off the form. This will be folded in to make the bottom of the pot. Wrap the paper fairly tight.
Fold the paper in, making sure it covers the entire bottom of the form. It will be stronger this way, and won't lose soil.
The next two steps are key to making the pot strong. If you do these two things, they will not fall apart, even when full of soil and being picked up to move them. (Of course, the pot will biodegrade once planted). First, pinch the perimeter of the pot. Pinch it fairly tight around the rim of the form.
Now take the rim that you made by pinching, fold it down, and pinch it again. This makes a surprisingly sturdy pot.
This is a short pot. Now all you have to do is slip it off the form, put soil and seeds in, water it - and wait for your seedlings to pop up! When your seedlings are big and strong enough, plant them!The seedlings are growing and in the ground!
I start by folding one page in half. On the folded side (to make it neater) I roll the paper around the bottle. I fold the rough end down and put the cap on the bottom. Then I pull the bottle free, leaving the cap on.
I take a large Foldgers coffee can and put a folded sheet of newspaper over the top, I then take a smaller coffee can and gently push the paper inside to form the pot, making sure that the sides are folded in as I go along.
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Does anyone have any ideas on making your own peat pots? I have decided to experiment, but would like to know if someone already has the solution.
Hardiness Zone: 7a
By Lavenda from Jackson, NJ
For as far back as I can remember my mother & I have used the pressed paper-type egg cartons to start seedlings for our gardens. You may pay just a tad more for eggs in the paper cartons, but in the long run you save because those little peat pots can get expensive if you need a lot! The paper egg cartons keep you from over watering your seeds & drainage for the young plants before you have planted them in the garden. Just fill the paper egg cartons with garden soil about early to mid-February (we live in Oklahoma), plant the seeds, put them in some type of under liner to catch drips (I use cut down cardboard boxes with plastic in the bottoms), put in a sunny location (window or sun porch) or use sun lamps, & care for & water them as needed until ready for planting in late March or early April.
When ready for planting, take a pair of scissors or clippers & cut the individual egg/plant holders apart & plant the whole thing (starter plant & individual paper egg holder) in the garden. Since the egg cartons are paper, they have already started to deteriorate by planting time & deteriorate faster once planted in the ground. You can do the same thing with the styrofoam egg cartons, but you have to poke a hole in the bottoms of the styrofoam egg holders with a toothpick for drainage and of course you can't plant the little styrofoam holders in the ground because their deterioration time is so slow - so you have to take the plants out of the egg containers before planting in the garden & throw them away anyway. You're not saving anything from going into the landfill. Truthfully, the paper egg holders are lots better because you give back.
I do the same thing as described by sheilamay. One tip I would add is to use a wine bottle with a little indent in the bottom. This will let you make a flatter bottom to the pot. Here is my army of pots, snugly hanging out in a pizza box lined with plastic from my winter window plasticizing.
Here is a video of me making them. http://mike-is- using-wine.html. Though it should be self explanatory without the video.
Oh shoot I was trying to respond to an archive post. in any event this is an nice recycled alternative. also you don't need tape as described in the original post.
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This is in response to the post about making recyclable plantable paper. I have been thinking about taking that idea a step farther and making little flower pots from recycled paper with seeds in them. Do you think they would still sprout if the whole pot was planted? Also, any ideas about an eco-friendly additive that would help them keep shape?
Hope someone can help!
Manijeh from Portland, OR