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!

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