Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Newspaper Seedling Pots

I hate spending money on things I can make myself.  And what I hate even more is throwing things in the trash that I know cannot be recycled and will not disintegrate.  Plastic nursery pots are one of those things that irk me.  I try to reuse them for starting my own seeds, but they are often so flimsy that they only last a season or two. That's why I love this gift that my husband gave me for my birthday a few years ago.

The "Pot Maker" is a wooden form that is used to make seedling pots from newspapers.  When it's time for transplanting to the garden, the entire pot can be planted and will decompose quickly.  Transplant shock to young plants is minimized and there are no plastic pots left over!  The Pot Maker can be purchased from Gardener's Supply, Burpee, Amazon, and many other gardening stores or catalogs.

The Pot Maker is really easy to use and my 5-year-old has helped me make them.  There are directions on the package, but I've come up with a few tricks to actually make them sturdier.

1.  One newspaper will make a bunch of pots.  Don't use any glossy paper.  Holding a sheet of newspaper vertically and folded on the seam, carefully rip down the center.  (Newspapers will rip in a straight, even line when ripped vertically.)  Rip again down the seam.  You should end up with strips that are about 6" wide.  (This is twice as wide and tall as the box directions.)

2. Align the Pot Maker cylinder so the round side is even with the edge of the newspaper, like in the photo.  Roll it up (not too tightly or you won't be able to slide the paper off).

3. On the flat side of the cylinder, fold the overhanging paper in.

4. Press the flat side into the Pot Maker base and twist.

5. Slide the cylinder out of the newspaper.  I pinch the bottom edges and shake it out.

6. In the directions on the box, the top edge is left alone and the pot is filled with soil.  However, I found that the pots were not very sturdy.  I made mine taller so I could fold about 2" in around the top and it worked much better.

7. Fill with soil and plant seeds.  Don't over-water or the paper will get soggy.
Click here for info on sterilizing your own potting soil.
When transplanting into the garden, unfold the bottom so the roots can spread out easier.  Plant the entire pot.

I filled plastic nursery flats and old kitchen trays with my newspaper pots.  I marked the varieties with either masking tape or cardboard.  This year, I chose Beef-Master, Big Boy, Early Girl, and Rainbow Heirloom mix tomatoes.  For peppers, we went with sweet yellow banana peppers and, since my husband loves spicy food, Scotch Bonnets.  We have grow lights set up in the cellar and will turn those on when seedlings emerge.

Happy Gardening!

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