If someone told you that you could have as many plant pots as you could ever use for free, plus they were completely environmentally friendly and would naturally biodegrade into the soil as your plants grew, I bet your ears would prick up. The fact is that you can have exactly this with very little effort on your part, and all you will need is a supply of old newspapers that either you or your friends have finished with, as well as some suitably shaped items from your home, e.g. bottles, jars etc.
It is possible to buy proper wooden kits to make your own plant pots from newspaper, and these kits are not too expensive, plus they have the added advantage of including a ‘crimping block’ that does ensure a slightly tighter crease at the base of the pot, therefore holding the paper more rigid than a pot made using the jar or bottle as a mold.
Making your own flower pots has many advantages over using plastic ones. Obviously the environment is far healthier as a result, and if more people did this there would be far less unwanted plastic pots being dumped in landfill sites where they will not rot down for hundreds of years. Using paper plant pots means there is no need to keep washing and sterilising your plastic pots each year when the plants you grew in them have been transplanted into their next container or on to your allotment, plus you don’t need to store them over the winter. Recycling your newspaper is also environmentally friendly and reduces waste going into landfill sites. How much more convincing do you need?
Try to round up various sized bottles or jars to use as molds, because you will no doubt need various sized pots depending on the size of the seeds you intend to grow in them. Aim for 2.5″ – 3″ in diameter as a good useful sized pot for seed sowing.
Next cut your newspapers into strips wide enough to fold halfway across the mould base, and long enough to wrap around the mold approximately six or seven times.
Wrap these strips tightly around the mold to create a rigid pot, and then work your way around the base of the mould folding over the newspaper so that there are no holes left that compost could escape from.
Carefully slide your completed pot from the mold and repeat the process until you have as many pots as you require.
Now we move on to the best method to use these pots. First place the pots on a flat surface and fill with a suitable multipurpose compost. Use your fingers to press the compost firmly into the base of the pots.
For larger seeds use a widger or a dibber to make an appropriate sized hole in the compost and drop your seeds into the holes before covering and watering in.
For smaller seeds dampen the compost first, allow it to drain and then sow on the surface of the compost, finishing by covering them with a sprinkling of compost.
Half fill a suitably sized seed tray with compost and then place your paper pots all together on top of it, (so they support each other and are unlikely to dry out).
Keep the compost moist so that the seedlings can push their roots through the sides of the pots.
When a good root system has pushed its way through the bottom and sides of the newspaper plant pots you can gently remove the entire pot from the seed tray and plant it wherever the plant is destined to grow, i.e. a container, vegetable allotment or flower bed. Make sure the paper pot is completely covered, as if the edges of the paper protrude above the surface of the soil the paper will act as a ‘wick’ and draw the moisture away from the roots of the plant and up to the surface.
Even if you don’t make the newspaper plant pots you can still create ‘pots’ from such items as empty cardboard egg boxes or the cardboard toilet roll tubes and the cardboard tubes that form the centre of rolls of tin foil, kitchen roll or cling film. Simply cut them down to size, place them in a tray of seed compost, fill each tube to the top with compost and keep moist after sowing. Again the roots will push through the sides of the cardboard as long as it remains damp. All you need to do then is plant out the complete tubes or egg box segments once the roots have pushed their way through into the seed trays compost.