Thursday, May 31, 2012

How To Make Pots From Newspaper

I mentioned last week that while at the Autism One conference I had attended a great session about We Farm America where Seneca Kern talked about organic gardening.  The most fascinating part was making seed pots from newspaper.  It was amazingly easy and far more effective than I had thought it would be when he first started talking about it.

When I plant seeds, I can get them to sprout and grow - to a point.  It's the transplanting that I have a hard time with, and these pots solve that issue neatly.  You simply plant the newspaper, opening up the bottom just a little bit for the roots.  Brilliant, no?  I think, too, that having a larger initial pot will help develop the roots better so that they don't start to suffer as they get bigger.  I can't wait to test out that theory!

This couldn't be easier.  Even the wee ones were able to do it, and I love projects like this that can involve kids because they should know where their food comes from and that they can make a difference, too.  All you need for this is a can, some newspaper, and dirt.  Since newspapers now are all made with soy ink, you can use any newspaper so long as it isn't the glossy paper.  Sweet, no?


Step one is to rip the newspaper into strips.  You want to have a strip that is the length of a front/back page.  Rip or cut it a couple inches taller than your can.  I find I can get four good strips from a standard size newspaper, so I just cut it into quarters.


Gently and loosely wrap the newspaper around the can, leaving a little space at the top of the can.  If you wrap it too tightly, it gets hard to remove the pot from the can.  Trust me on this one.  You'll have an overlap of several inches on the bottom of the can, which is exactly what you want.  See how you don't have to have perfect edges?  This is the perfect project for me.


Fold down your edges into the center of the can bottom.  Start with where the seam of the pot is, to help it stay together later.  See how easy?


Once you have the bottom folded in, turn the can right side up again, and twist and push it against a hard surface to help get the bottom to stay in place the way you want.  This is just a couple seconds, and you don't have to push super hard.


Then, gently pull the new pot off your can.  If it comes apart a little bit, don't worry.  You can easily push it back into place, and it doesn't have to be perfect anyway.  Once you get the dirt in, and especially once it's watered, it will contain the dirt and seeds very well regardless of how sturdy it was initially.


Place your pot in something sturdy.  I used a disposable roasting pan simply because I had one handy.  You want something that is at least a couple inches deep for watering purposes.  I'm a little concerned about having something so shiny and reflective outside when the sun in shining, so I may place some extra newspaper around the edges showing so that the sunlight doesn't damage the plants, but use what you have.

Fill the pots with dirt all the way to the top.  Don't push the dirt down at all.  You never want to tamp down your dirt because you need and want the air, etc.  I used a small cup to get the dirt into the pots without making a massive mess.  It worked fairly well for me.  I would make a couple pots, then fill them, then make some more pots.  If I made too many pots without filling them, they started to tip and come open a bit without the weight of the dirt.  Once the pots are filled with dirt, you're ready to plant. 

Plant your seeds to twice the depth of the diameter of the seed.  That means it's a whole lot shallower than what I usually do.  Possibly that's another problem for me previously.  Note that I labeled my pots.  I need to know what I'm growing, and I know myself.  I'll never remember otherwise, and I want to ensure that when I plant my plot, I'm able to strategically arrange my plants.


Watering is super easy.  Again, because we don't want to have the dirt pushed down any more than necessary - or wash away the seeds accidentally.  Simply pour water into the bottom of the container you're using.  Depending on how many pots you have, you'll need a whole lot of water.  The newspaper will help to wick the water up the pots and keep them evenly watered - yet another benefit and bonus.  As your plants need to be watered going forward, you'll do the same thing; simply water the pan and the water will be absorbed from the bottom of the pots on up.


Once your pots are watered and the dirt is moistened, you'll want to remove the excess newspaper.  The newspaper wicks up the water really well, but any newspaper the isn't covering dirt will make the water evaporate faster.  Simply peel away any exposed newspaper.  As you continue to water your plants, the dirt will compact more, so you'll need to keep doing this every once in awhile.


Totally easy, right?  And green?  And amazingly effective.  I can't wait to see the impact of my garden once it's grown.  Thank you to We Farm America for sharing all this great information.  What will you plant?

10 comments:

Tara R. May 31, 2012 at 2:01 PM  

This is such a cool idea, and a great way to recycle old newspaper.

Lisa June 1, 2012 at 7:10 AM  

That is so cool. I never would have thought to use newspaper!

StudioJewel - lisa lehmann June 1, 2012 at 7:28 AM  

so incredibly clever!

Lisa Hanneman June 1, 2012 at 8:45 AM  

I decided last weekend that I was going to take a year off from my vegetable garden since I wasn't feeling up to another frustrating year of no return.

BUT, now I'm reconsidering. This seems like an easy way to get a good start. Plus, I already bought the seeds and have a ton of compost.

When do you move them to your garden?

Houseful Of Nicholes June 1, 2012 at 11:29 AM  

I think that I shall be using this post haste! And the children can help? BONUS!

ConnieFoggles June 2, 2012 at 6:43 PM  

I was thinking paper mache, but this is so much easier. I'd like to know when to move them to the garden too. Hope you'll write another post and show the progress.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog June 3, 2012 at 10:06 PM  

Great idea! We don't have a newspaper subscription though... :(

Toni June 5, 2012 at 6:57 AM  

What a super fun, green idea!! I must admit, every time I take plants out of those plastic trays/containers, I always think "what a waste." Of course, I recycle them, but re-using newspaper is WAY better! Thanks for the idea!

Pat June 5, 2012 at 1:04 PM  

Wow, this is cool! What a great idea! I hope your garden is a smashing success, I mean, a health food success!

Sandra June 5, 2012 at 3:27 PM  

This is indeed very cool. I usually save all those plastic pots that hold the plants I buy from the store to reuse, but this idea is even better! Definitely will try this the next time I grow from seeds. Thanks for sharing!

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