Category Archives: Efficiency

Making newspaper seed pots

Seed orders are in (at least the first two rounds), which means, it is about seed starting time. I like to start in the middle of March, which means a few weeks to get things prepared. The seeds have yet to be delivered, but hey, let’s get started on the pots anyway.

I have tried different ways to start seeds. I have bought peat pots, little circles of peat that go into styrofoam, which then the styrofoam floats so the peat doesn’t get waterlogged, dixie cups, etc. All of these have the problem of: you have to buy them. They are also a little hard to get the correct water amount to the plants. I want to be able to water from the bottom and let the wicking action of the soil bring water up to the roots while they are inside. The newspaper gets soaked this way, but it is strong enough to hold on for the 6-8 weeks I need them too. I also don’t want to disturb any roots when I plant them, so I don’t want to have to take them out of the pot they were growing in. And, they cannot be root bound.

The answer: newspaper seed pots. Water from the bottom and you can control how wet the soil gets. Plant them out (after hardening off) without doing anything other than tearing any newspaper off that reaches above the soil line so it doesn’t wick moisture away into the atmosphere, and tear off the small bottom circle of newspaper at the bottom. No roots are disturbed this way. And, the roots will grow through the newspaper when in the ground and the newspaper will disintegrate by the end of the growing season. (We just pulled some spent tomato plants from the garden last week, and there was no trace of newspaper around the roots. My brother commented on how mom’s tomato plants didn’t have nice, big, expansive roots like mine did. She bought hers from the store, and they were in peat pots.) These are large enough for my purposes that I don’t usually have to transplant to bigger pots later on, either.

Also: you don’t have to buy a tool to make the seed pots. I’ve found a way to use newspaper and regular tape left over from wrapping Christmas presents.

First, the newspaper. Black and white, color, it doesn’t matter. All the ink is safe to use. I had a pile of the smaller newspapers around, but fortuitously, the smaller ones are exactly half the size of the regular sized ones, so one more cut on the regularly sized ones will get you down to the smaller size, and you can follow along from there.

I use clear scotch tape. It disintegrates in the ground with no trace.

Then, all you need is a form. I use a soy sauce bottle. It seems to be the perfect size. And scissors.

One thing to remember: this is not fine furniture. You are creating pots to hold dirt and will be gone in 6 months, never to be seen again. Don’t get too hung up on what they look like. If they can hold dirt and can stand up with a little help with their friends, they are fine.

I will be putting these in a pizza box inserted inside a plastic garbage sack. I’m just making the pots now, but that is where they will eventually end up, so they might as well go in there.

So you take your newspaper and fold it in half. Hey look, that’s my cousin on the front page!

Make sure the edges line up.

Cut down the fold:

Fold in half the other direction and cut down the fold. You should have sizes about like this:

I use two sheets at a time. When you get done cutting, half of them will have two sheets still connected by a fold, and half of them will be completely cut apart. Use the folded ones as is, and use two of them if they are cut apart completely.

Grab your soy sauce bottle and wrap the newspaper around it. It is up to you to decide how tall to make it, but you need to be able to completely fold and close off the bottom, so take that into account. This “Good Housekeeping” icon makes a good measuring line. For the folded ones, I put the folded side on the measuring line. The free ones, it doesn’t matter. Put one piece of tape on this seam.

Turn the bottle upside down and rest it on the table. We are going to fold the bottom. Find the seam, and push the seam across the bottom of the bottle.

On the right side of that fold, push in again across the bottom of the bottle.

Then, on the left side of the original fold, push in again across the bottom of the bottle:

One more fold.

And then, one piece of tape secures this. I fold it specifically this way so the tape both holds the fold down and tapes together the seam on the side.

Slide it off the bottle, and you are ready for your next one. I did all these (64 of them) in about 45 minutes last night, watching TV with DH. And now they are just waiting to be filled with potting soil and planted.

Don’t forget to wash your hands!

stacked laundry

My efficient laundry schedule

So my first post is a post on laundry.  Very exciting, I know, but let’s get things started and I’ll catch you up on details later.

I try to do my laundry on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  Two days a week gets it done for my family of 3, 2 adults and 1 3 year old (who we are calling Boobock for this blog).  I was doing Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday, but some of the loads were 3 shirts and a pair of pants, as we don’t wash the clothes after every use.  So, I dropped back to Tuesdays and Saturdays, and this is enough for us for now.

I get to work at home for my full time 8-5 job on Tuesdays, and am generally home all day Saturday.  There is a lot of lead time with laundry, waiting for the machine to finish washing, and waiting for the Kansas wind to dry it, so I can get other work done while waiting.  With our small house, there are only two places the laundry will congregate, the bedroom and the bathroom, so I grab any in the bedroom and dump all of it out on the bathroom floor.  I sort whites/lights from darks and make sure to do the darks first.  I then go on a hunt for any socks my 3 year old likes to take off and throw, but he usually does that in the office so it isn’t that much of a hunt.

Especially in the summer, but most of the spring and fall as well, I hang my laundry out on the line.  The Kansas wind means I need to use strong clothes pins, or at the least, a lot of them, but the upside is that if the wind is really whipping around, the clothes come out softer than you would think.  I do the darks first, because if something happens to my schedule and I can’t get them hung out, I would rather use the dryer to dry socks  and underwear and have the shirts/pants hung up outside.

Before work starts (at 8:00 on the dot, mind you!), I start the load of darks.  It usually is only one load if I keep to my twice a week schedule.  Then at noon, on my lunch break, I hang the darks and start the lights.  5:00 comes and I can hang the lights and bring the darks in.

I had a bad habit of getting the actual washing and drying done, but leaving the clothes in the hamper beside the bed.  (Raise your hand if you are guilty of that!)  We would end up eventually mixing up dirty with the clean, and I would just dump them all back in the washer, exasperated.  Might as well just wash ‘em again instead of smelling each one to see if it was clean, I thought.  One day, I just got tired of it.  I got tired of digging through the basket for something, tired of clothes being wrinkled, and tired of the double/triple laundry I was doing just because I was lazy.

So, I timed myself.  Yes, I pulled out my phone’s stopwatch app and timed how long it took me to fold and put away one load of laundry.  It took 3 minutes and 54 seconds.  Yes, that is for an entire load.   Now, if I feel lazy and don’t want to fold and put away clothes, I sometimes silently, sometimes out loud, tell myself it will take less than 5 minutes and just get over it already.  Yeah, I talk to myself.  Whatever works, right?

Back to the actual doing of the laundry.  I make the bed and dump the entire clean load right in the middle.

dumped laundry

Then I just get started.  No sorting, just pick the first thing up and fold it…other than shirts.  I hang all shirts up in the closet, except tank tops, so to be efficient, I throw all of those up to the head of the bed in a big pile.  Everything else gets folded and stacked in a particular place on the bed depending on where it goes.  An aside, here.  I had always heard about “family closets” and how efficient they were, but we have a 2 bedroom house where one bedroom is an office, and our son still sleeps in a bed beside ours.  No room for a family closet, I thought…until I realized I actually already had a family closet if I just used it correctly.  Everything but towels gets put away in that room, so I just needed to fold/stack efficiently, and things would be much much faster.

I stand on the side of the bed, and my dresser is to my right.  I stack my clothes in front of me, close to my dresser.  I usually open one drawer and just put things that go in that drawer away without even stacking.  The towels get put on the left in front of me, close to the door, since they go to the bathroom.  Boobock’s dresser is at the foot of the bed, so his stacks are beside the towels, and my husband’s dresser is beside Boobock’s dresser, so his stacks are further away still.  Shirts get thrown to the head of the bed for later.

After stacking:

stacked laundry


Then I put them away.  Whisk, whisk, whisk and that is done.  So, then, on to the shirts.

I don’t separate my husbands shirts from mine.  They all go in the same closet and I hang them so the most recently used ones go on the right, and things that haven’t been used forever are all to the very left.  When it is time to get rid of stuff, it is easy to find the things that haven’t been worn forever, because they are pushed all the way to the left in the inaccessible  hole behind the wall.  Anyway, I take each shirt and lay it down flat to make a stack.

stacked shirts


Then, I take the hangers, insert them into each shirt, and fold the shirt down to get to the next one.

shirts with hangers

It is now easy to lay them all back down flat, and pick up the hangers and hang them.

Done.  5 minutes or less.  At least with the darks.

The whites are still on the line, but I have a trick for that as well.  I try to hang socks in pairs.  I’m not anal about it, but if I see a pair laying right beside each other in the basket, I pick them both up and hang them together.  This is where using a big tub like shown in the first picture is helpful, as you can see more of the clothes at a time.

white clothes on the line


You can probably see the little white and orange socks on the left easiest in this picture.  Not a huge deal, but it is more efficient.  Might as well use your eyes to find these things instead of randomly picking things up and hanging them.  So, of course, then when they are dry, when I pull them off the line, the socks get folded immediately and thrown in the basket.  Into the house, and the same process is done…dump, fold, stack, put away, done.  In 5 minutes.