Friday, January 25, 2008

Newspaper Pots

Gardening fever is breaking out here and there, even though there's snow on the ground in much of the US. I confess to drooling over the seed catalogs and starting to get an order ready. I won't buy much because I've saved some of my own seed and have other seed left over. I haven't grown beets or okra in awhile, so that seed will be bought new this year.

It's almost time here to start tomatoes and peppers and other things that take a longer growing season than we have. I've tried starting seeds in saved plastic containers that other plants came from, and in egg cartons and a great variety of odds and ends, but the easiest way I've found is to start them in newspaper pots.

Newspaper pots are biodegradable, so you just dig a little hole and stick the pot, plant and all in the ground when it's time. No disturbing the roots, breaking plant stems or shocking the little fellows with a totally new environment...

To make newspaper pots, you'll need newspaper (imagine that!), a small jar or can for a mold and potting soil to fill the pot. A baby food jar or a 6 ounce can is about the right size.

Fold a sheet of newspaper in the middle fold then fold again so that you have a long narrow piece. The width of this will be the height of the pot, so fold it until you're satisfied with the size.

Roll up the can or jar in the newspaper as evenly as you can, then take the jar out, leaving the newspaper rolled.

Take a half sheet of newspaper, cut or tear it into fourths and stuff it into the rolled up piece, then, using the jar, tamp it down to form a bottom to the pot.

Fit them onto a tray or something similar, turning so that the free end of the newspaper butts against another pot to keep it from unwinding, or gently tie a string around each one. If you use cotton string, you won't have to remove it at planting time.

Fill with potting soil or your own good sterile soil if you like (bake one inch deep at 250 for 10 minutes or so). I seldom use sterile soil because the good things are killed with the bad things and plants grow better when there is good life in the soil.

Anyway, that's all there is to it. After the first pot, you can see how it works and you can turn out as many as you need in a short amount of time.


  1. Pat,
    I had never heard of newspaper pots - I guess I could even make those out of the brown packing paper we get out of computers at work. I know you are busy, can you post a photo of what one looks like?

    By the way, I made a frugal decorative plant container cover for my coworker. I took a designer curtain that I found at the second hand store, cut it with the zigzag scissors larger than the size of the pot. Next I used the pretty stitched edging at the top of the curtain as a bow. So I had a frilly plant cover for a so-so looking pot. My coworker loved it.

    I enjoy re-potting root bound plants for my friends, and this added an extra special touch.

    Terre Parker

  2. Your plant container cover is a great idea, Terre!

    If I have time (probably tomorrow), I'll make a newspaper pot and take a picture of it. They're very simple.

  3. Hi Pat! I've used cardboard egg cartons successfully as well - they're also biodegradable and not so much work!
    Have a great day,

  4. momto4cats, I've used the egg cartons, too, but they're not deep for many plants. If you make newspaper pots you can make them as large as you need them, to allow the plants to establish a good root system.

  5. We used an empty play doh canister to make our paper pots. They worked perfect each time and dissolved in the soil.
    However as our garden grew it took more and more pots! So we invested about $20 in a Soil Blocker. This put out formed blocks of soil with an indentation to plant your seed. they are available in a couple sizes. That was more than 10 yrs ago. Now we use paper pots only when transplanting a plant into a larger pot from the soil block. (Like tomatoes)

  6. You can use anything to make the size of pots you want... I'm too cheap to pay for a soil blocker. :)