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Paper Pots Offer Cost-Effective, Environmentally Friendly Home for Seedlings

Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 04/20 at 09:00 AM

In my last post I talked about planting seeds indoors. And given that we are four to six weeks away from the last frost as I write this, you should have seedlings growing somewhere in your house.

Some of those seedlings are slow growing enough to be okay existing inside the seed starting cell. Every 10 days or so, give them a shot of water-soluable fertilizer to give them a boost—I like to use organic fertilizer like compost tea, seaweed concentrate, or fish emulsion (highly diluted, of course).

That should be find for some seedlings until it’s time to transplant them to the garden. However, others will need more room to spread out the ol’ roots. I transplant my tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and ground cherries when they have two or three sets of true leaves. Now, I grow a lot of plants, and buying pots for all of them might get pricey. To save money, I make pots out of newspaper.

Yes, newspaper. It’s really easy to make these environmentally friendly pots. I save up newspapers to make sure I have enough, and I also grab some from the Penn State Daily Collegian office in downtown State College.

To make the paper pots:

1. Take one sheet of newspaper, and fold in half lengthwise.
2. Roll it around a cylinder—I use a pickle jar, but you can use any jar that’s about 3” or so in diameter.
3. While in the cylinder, push the newspaper hanging over the top of the cylinder into the jar. Then remove the jar, and insert the jar bottom-side down into the paper pot to push down the newspaper, forming a nice pot bottom.
4. Secure the side with a piece of tape (biodegradable is preferable).

Fill with soil, then transplant your plants. It’s really simple, and if my instructions aren’t clear, try Googling “garden paper pots,” and you will find other instructions, and even a few videos that show how to do it.

One thing—there are commercial paper pot makers on the market. However, I find that these aren’t necessary to make the pots. A pickle jar or similar jar works fine.

When you are ready to plant your tomatoes, peppers, etc. from your paper pots, all you have to do is bury the paper pots directly into the ground. The newspaper will break down and feed your garden. Paper pots are fantastic—not only are you saving money, the newspaper becomes part of your garden soil as it breaks down. (Please note: newspaper ink is made with soy, so it’s safe). 

{name} Author: Jamie Oberdick
Bio: Editor, Local Food Journey | Passionate about supporting local food in Central PA

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