Make your own pots!

on Tuesday, March 9, 2010

When starting your own seeds, you have to decide what you want to plant them into... What sort of container do you want to use to hold your growing medium (what you're thinking of as "dirt")?

One option many folks love is small bio-degradable pots made from newspaper, which are made with what's called a paper pot maker. You can either buy a gadget to help you with this job (or receive one as a gift, like I did), or you can do the same just by wrapping paper around a drink glass or similar cylinder. A quick search of the web will provide many vendors selling devices to help you make paper pots, as well as tips on how to make paper pots without purchasing a gadget to help you.

Just like with plastic pots and peat pots, pots made out of recycled paper can come in many different sizes and shapes. My paper pot maker creates 2 1/4" pots that are about 2"-3" tall - depending on how you wrap the newspaper.

You start with a long strip of newspaper. The instructions for my pot maker call for a piece approximately 10" long by 3" wide - different pot makers or techniques will require different sized pieces of paper. I've found for my pot maker I can take a section from a newspaper and get six strips across (which I then cut down the fold) - it doesn't take more than a minute for me to get a stack of newspaper strips ready to turn into pots!

To start, you wrap a strip of paper around the pot maker, making sure to have roughly 3/4 - 1" of paper hanging off the bottom of the wooden dowel. Too much paper will result in extra material to be wadded up underneath the pot.

Working your way around the base of the pot maker, fold the newspaper towards the center of the're creating the bottom of the pot here.

Here I have the last of the newspaper folded across the bottom of the dowel. If you have too little newspaper extended beyond the end of the pot maker, you'll find you have an opening here at the bottom of the pot. Too much newspaper will result in extra folded up newspaper here, which just results in a pot that doesn't sit quite as level.

Now you could stop here - the weight of damp seed starting mix or soil in the pot would weigh down the bottom. Some people recommend putting a piece of tape across the bottom, but then you have to assume that won't break down in the soil. This particular pot maker comes with a second piece - one that the wooden dowel nestles down into. You push the newspaper-wrapped dowel into the base, and twist/push to give the bottom of the pot an extra crimping.

Now that the newspaper has been removed from the base unit, you can see a crimped groove to help lock the newspaper in place. Don't count on this being super sturdy, so that the newspaper won't unfold - it probably will a little. But again, the damp seed starting mix will weigh the whole thing down.

Once you get going, you'd be surprised at how fast you can crank out a bag full of homemade, recycled newspaper pots!

Here's 18 newspaper pots in a long, narrow planting tray, loaded up with rosemary and parsley seeds.

Seeing how this the first time I've made/used newspaper pots, I'm considering this a learning experience. The newspaper quickly starts absorbing moisture from the seed starting mix, plus you water the seeds right after planting them. Now that the newspaper is soaked, will it hold up for 6 weeks, 10 weeks or even more before these herbs are planted out?


A Chistoff said...

Hi, yes the idea is great however I've found a better one: it is called next generation paper pot maker and it is much cheaper. Plus you can add soil without damaging the pot you just made.

Kurt said...

I have used the plastic pot maker chistoff is referring to and I don't like it as much as the wooden one. The wooden pot maker works great with the bottom piece to make the pot stay together. Plus the wood pot maker looks nice and makes a great gift too. I have the exact same one pictured in this blog. Nice pics by the way. I bought mine at but as already stated a quick Google or Bing search will find other places to buy. There are a few different variations. I've also got one called the Nviropotter which I bought off eBay. That one doesn't have the bottom mold but they do give you a unique and simple folding technique that can be used on the other pot makers to hold the side together. The Nviropotter comes with a nice bag. It looks great!

Cynthia said...

I've tried newspaper pots as well as toilet paper tube pots with pretty good results and found that toilet paper tubes tend to hold up better than newspaper. However, I've had occasional problems with both materials getting moldy over time. Any solutions?

Kurt said...

I've seen mold on peat pots too so the paper pots are not alone. Try not to over water them. You could try GreenCure,

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