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How to Make Sturdy Recycled Newspaper Pots

August 28, 2011

Think Green

Making seed pots out of old newspapers is not only a thrifty use of the newspapers, but also good for the planet. Commercial seed pots usually make you choose between throw-away plastic, or expensive pressed peat moss pots that can go straight into the ground, but use up a scarce natural resource in the process. Newspapers are equally biodegradable, much more economical, and provide a mulch and fertilizer for young plants. Remember not to use glossy or colored pages. Most colored inks these days are soy based inks and are safe.

Using Newspaper Pots

The easiest thing about making your own recycled newspaper pots is that when your seeds are ready to transplant outdoors, the transplant shock is considerably lessened. All you have to do is be sure there are drainage holes poked in the bottom of the newspaper pots, dig your planting hole, and place the seedling, pot and all, straight into the hole with some water. As the seedling grows, the newspaper decays into the soil, giving the tender plant instant mulch and fertilizer.

Origami Method

There is a complete origami folding method that you can use. But, folding pots around a mold is perhaps the easiest and sturdiest method of making recycled newspaper pots for your seeds. These have thick bottoms and tight folds, and are very roomy for seed starting. While you can purchase pot-making wooden molds from seed and garden catalogs, it’s just as easy to form them around a tin can.

Take a whole sheet of newspaper and fold in half vertically, then cut along the crease. Each piece makes one pot. Fold it in half again, and fold an inch over horizontally to make a lip. Roll the newspaper around the can, with about two inches extending beyond the bottom of the can. Fold over these two inches to make the pot bottom. Carefully slide the newspaper off the can while holding the bottom, and fold the lip over again inside the pot to secure the folds.

Rolling Method

For those gardeners who don’t have the patience or time to fold newspaper pots, an easier method may be to roll them. Lay out a sheet of newspaper and prepare a glue of flour and water. Starting at one end, roll a thick dowel, soup can or sturdy cup in the newspaper a full turn, then paint the strip of newspaper close to the can with the glue. Roll another layer, glue, and repeat until you get to the end. After your tube of newspaper dries, cut it into short seed pot lengths, perhaps three inches long. This creates open-ended cylindrical seed pots that you will need to put in a tray to water and transport, but it does eliminate any concern of adequate drainage, as the seed-starting soil mix is open to the air at the bottom.

Seed Starting

Simply fill these little pots with soil mix as you would any seed pot. Place them close together on trays, so that the newspaper pots are touching each other. These pots transfer water very well, so instead of watering each seed pot individually, you can pour water into the tray and the seedlings will take it up through the bottom of the newspaper pots, whichever pot-making method you choose to use.

Want to learn more about DIY seed pots?

Organic Gardening Magazine takes you through the newspaper pot rolling process.

This tutorial from Mother Nature Network shows the origami newspaper pot making method.

Newspaper Starter Pots for Seedlings

Here’s a tool designed especially for making your own newspaper pots, quickly and easily!

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