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Making Newspaper Pots

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Newspaper Seed Starting Pot

A thrifty way to have enough containers for your plant starts and seedlings is to make pots out of newspaper. This guide is about making newspaper pots.

Solutions: Making Newspaper Pots

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Tip: Newspaper Pots For Seedlings

A tray of newspaper pots with seedlings, ready to plant.A good way to extend your vegetable gardening season is to start the seeds inside while the ground is still too cold to plant, before the last frost date in your area. You can buy the little peat pots, or other similar ways to start your seeds, which adds up after awhile. Or you can make your own pots for free out of newspapers!

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:

Materials:

  • Newspapers
  • scissors
  • something to mold the paper around - I use a small can of tomato paste or sardines.
  • Good soil - I like seed starting soil.
  • Seeds
  • You don't need any glue, tape or any other adhesive - the way you form the pot keeps it held together securely.

    Instructions

    When you have your strips cut, cut them apart at the middle fold. You need only one thickness of paper.

    A piece of newspaper for making a seed pot.

    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.

    Wrap newspaper around a can to make pot.

    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.

    Newspaper wrapped around a tomato paste can.

    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.

    A newspaper pot with the bottom folded. The bottom of the newspaper pot.

    Now take the rim that you made by pinching, fold it down, and pinch it again. This makes a surprisingly sturdy pot.

    The finished bottom of the newspaper 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! Rows of seedlings planted in newspaper pots in the garden.

Tip: Gardening: Paper Pots

I have seen several ways but I have found one I really like on my own. I came across my beta fish food bottle and it seemed like the perfect size I wanted, so I emptied it out. I thought about newspaper but I had just received 3 new phone books, so I had 6 total. I decided to use the white pages of the old ones and they worked perfectly.

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. That is why I liked using this bottle, the cap fits on both ends. Then I pull the bottle free, leaving the cap on. Fill your paper container with dirt then take off the cap and your paper container is ready for your seeds.

When you water, you can either water from the bottom. Put them in something waterproof, of course. Or you can spray them from the top. When it comes time to plant them, make sure you bury it with all the paper in the ground.

By Laura from Ocala, FL

Making Seed-Starting Pots From Newspaper

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.

Finally, News You Can Really Use

A daily newspaper can be turned into dozens of customized, seed-starting pots. If you don't have a newspaper laying around the house, grab one from the office break room, stop by a coffee shop right before close, or look for free weeklies in the entry way of local restaurants and grocery stores. Avoid using newspaper printed with colored inks. Black and white ink is usually derived from soy-based products , which are better for the environment (and your seedlings). Brown paper shopping bags will also work well for this project.

Directions:

  1. Gather your materials: a small jar, can, or juice glass to roll newspaper around; a pair of scissors; tape; and newspaper. (Note: baby food jars, and 5.5 oz cans of tomato paste work great for this).
  2. Open a single sheet of the newspaper (two facing pages). Fold the newspaper in half (from top to bottom), and then fold it in half again. When your finished, this should give you a pot that is approximately 4 layers thick and 3 1/2" inches deep (far better for growing seedlings that the often recommended egg carton). If you want to customize the pot's size and thickness, you will need to cut the newspaper into the appropriate sized strips. Cut each strip as long as a full-sized page is across, and almost as wide as the small jar, juice glass, or can you are using.
  3. Rolling up Jar

    The width of the strips (size of the pot) that you will need depends on how long your seedlings remain in the pot before transplanting them. Seeds that take a longer time to mature (6 weeks or more) will need bigger pots. When deciding on the thickness of the pot, keep in mind that walls made up of more 4 or more layers will hold up better to frequent watering.

  4. Place the jar (or can) on the newspaper so that a small amount of extra newspaper sticks out beyond the bottom. After you roll the newspaper around the jar to make the sides of the pot, this extra paper will be folded under to serve as the pot's bottom.
  5. Roll the newspaper up snuggly around the jar. You want it to be secure, but make sure it is not wrapped so tightly that you cannot slide the jar out. Secure it with a piece of tape.
  6. Fold the excess newspaper under the jar to make the bottom. Stand the jar upright and use a hard surface to squish the bottom firmly into place. Secure it with a piece of tape.
  7. Fold Bottom
  8. Slide the jar out of the newspaper. Viola! Now you have a biodegradable seed pot. Repeat the procedure for as many pots as you need.
Finished Pot

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.

Toilet Paper or Paper Towel Rolls

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.

By Ellen Brown

Tip: Newspaper Pots

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. Be careful when pushing it in as the bottom will tear if you push too hard on the can.

By Amy from Evansdale, IA

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Questions

Here are questions related to Making Newspaper Pots.

Question: Recycled Paper Pots

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


Most Recent Answer

By mike [1]03/30/2010

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.

Archives

Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Recycled Paper Pots

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


RE: Recycled Paper Pots

Yes you can! When I had a garden, I would plant my seeds in little paper cups holding potting soil. I would then place them in empty egg cartons (not the plastic or foam ones) and when my seedlings were big enough to move to the garden, I would carefully cut the egg carton and plant each seedling in it's egg "cup" separately wherever I needed it. Just puncture several small holes in the bottom. As the seedling grows, the cup will disappear (and so will the paper cup) into the soil as mulch; in the meantime protecting the seedling. I had nearly 100% success with this method. I hope you have the same. (08/01/2008)

By sheilamay

RE: Recycled Paper Pots

Finally, News You Can Really Use. A daily newspaper can be turned into dozens of customized, seed-starting pots. If you don't have a newspaper laying around the house, grab one from the office break room, stop by a coffee shop right before close, or look for free weeklies in the entry way of local restaurants and grocery stores. Avoid using newspaper printed with colored inks. Black and white ink is usually derived from soy-based products , which are better for the environment (and your seedlings). Brown paper shopping bags will also work well for this project.

Directions:

1. Gather your materials: a small jar, can, or juice glass to roll newspaper around; a pair of scissors, tape, and newspaper. (Note: baby food jars, and 5.5 oz cans of tomato paste work great for this)

2. Open a single sheet of the newspaper (two facing pages). Fold the newspaper in half (from top to bottom), and then fold it in half again. When you're finished, this should give you a pot that is approximately 4 layers thick and 3 1/2" inches deep (far better for growing seedlings than the often recommended egg carton). If you want to customize the pot's size and thickness, you will need to cut the newspaper into the appropriate sized strips. Cut each strip as long as a full-sized page is across, and almost as wide as the small jar, juice glass, or can you are using. The width of the strips (size of the pot) that you will need depends on how long your seedlings remain in the pot before transplanting them. Seeds that take a longer time to mature (6 weeks or more) will need bigger pots. When deciding on the thickness of the pot, keep in mind that walls made up of more 4 or more layers will hold up better to frequent watering.

3. Place the jar (or can) on the newspaper so that a small amount of extra newspaper sticks out beyond the bottom. After you roll the newspaper around the jar to make the sides of the pot, this extra paper will be folded under to serve as the pot's bottom.

4. Roll the newspaper up snugly around the jar. You want it to be secure, but make sure it is not wrapped so tightly that you cannot slide the jar out. Secure it with a piece of tape.

5. Fold the excess newspaper under the jar to make the bottom. Stand the jar upright and use a hard surface to squish the bottom firmly into place. Secure it with a piece of tape.

6. Slide the jar out of the newspaper. Viola! Now you have a biodegradable seed pot. Repeat the procedure for as many pots as you need.

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.

Toilet Paper or Paper Towel Rolls:

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.

As for the simplest way to start seeds indoors, once you have your starter pots, fill them to within 1 inch of the top with a commercially available seed starting mix (it's a good idea to dampen the mix with water before filling your pots with it). This type of mix is not like regular potting soil or topsoil, which is considered too heavy for starting seeds indoors. Instead, seed-starting mix usually contains a mixture of peat moss and vermiculite (sometimes sand, lime, or plant food is mixed in). In general, the finer the seeds, the lighter the growing medium needs to be to get them started.

Place 2 to 3 seeds per pot, cover them with a thin layer of mix and water thoroughly. (If necessary, use a hand-held spray bottle to avoid washing away the seeds). In general, keep the growing medium moist, but not wet. Some seeds need to be under bright light to germinate. Others prefer to germinate in darkness and then be moved to bright light in order to grow. It all depends on what seeds you're trying to germinate. Usually the seed packets themselves will tell you everything you need to know. Just about all seeds need temperatures of at least 65 to 70 F to germinate indoors. Once seedlings germinate and develop a true set of leaves (usually the second set of leaves to develop) thin pots to one to two plants per pot. (Use a scissors to remove the weaker plants to avoid disturbing the roots of the remaining plants). (08/01/2008)

By Pat

RE: Recycled Paper Pots

Awhile back the following link was on ThriftyFun.com. These boxes can be made out of newspaper and in different sizes for different size plantings. When folded they are 2-4 layers thick but flexible enough that you could make 2 or 3 the same size and put them inside each other if you wanted a thicker container. http://www.origami-club.com/en/newspaper/garbagebin/index.htm (08/03/2008)

By Bette