Today, I'm showing you how I'm making newspaper seedling pots for my seedlings this year. If you are new to organic gardening, there's a great resource at the end of this post that you will love.
If you are an organic gardener looking for ways to reduce plastic in your home this post is for you. I'm starting a cut-flower garden for the very first time and am going to be needing lots of seed pots. Instead of reaching for the plastic seed trays and pots, I've decided to try going plastic-free.
Life without plastic
If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you will know that I'm always looking for ways to reduce plastic in my home. I'm not perfect at it, plastic dominates almost every area of our lives and is almost impossible to avoid. I just do my best to reduce plastic wherever I can.
Starting seedlings without plastic
Newspaper Seedling Pots
Being an organic gardener, one thing I hate is having to use plastic pots in the garden. I need so many seed trays and small seed pots for my seedlings this year that I've decided to try making some newspaper seedling pots. I've never done this before so we'll just have to see how it turns out but I'm crossing my fingers that it works.
I've already found some great ideas for starting seedlings without plastic. As reducing plastic waste is such a huge issue right now, I thought it would be a great idea to share my findings with you on the blog today.
Coir seed pots
Last year, I dipped my toe into the water by using coir seed pots.
Coir pots are made from the rough fibres and material left over from the coconut which is compressed into these flower pot shapes. I used them to sow my Cosmos seeds and they worked really well. I also used them for some of the plants in this pretty pallet planter.
Instead of removing the Cosmos seedlings from the pots come planting time, I just popped the whole thing into the earth. The coir pots were thin enough that the roots of the seedlings were able to break through and establish themselves in the flower containers.
I still have a stock of the coir seed pots left-over from last year which I can use but I'm going to need far more pots for my seedlings.
Here are the ways I'm going to be reducing plastic in my garden this year. Maybe you would like to try them out too.
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How to make newspaper seedling pots
- Glass jar or tin can
To make plastic-free seed pots from newspaper, all you need are sheets of newspaper, scissors and a glass jar.
Constructing newspaper seedling pots
Step 1 - Cut the newspaper into strips and wrap the strips around the jar.
Step 2 - Push the ends inside the jar so that the bottom has a thick layer of paper.
Step 3 -Remove the jar or tin.
Step 4 - Use your fist to press down the paper inside the seed pot.
It's as simple as that. You can also use various sized jars or tins to make larger or smaller seed pots.
TIP: If you make newspaper seedling pots for edible produce, it would be best to stick to black and white printed newspaper. Coloured print may include toxic chemicals which could harm your seedlings.
If making newspaper seedling pots is something you're going to be doing every year, you might want to invest in one of these wooden paper pot makers. If this works out for me this year, I'm going to buy one of these - I just love pretty garden tools!
Plastic-free toilet roll seed pots
- Empty toilet rolls
Constructing toilet roll seed pots
To make plastic-free seed pots from toilet rolls, you will need scissors and some empty cardboard toilet rolls.
- Make some cuts in one end of the toilet paper roll.
- Fold the cut strips inwards to close off the end.
TIP: If you are sowing veg, like peas or beans which need more space for their roots, this type of longer pot is a great solution.
Growing seeds in egg cartons
Egg cartons are good for starting seeds. I'll be planting seeds in each individual egg holder and then, I'll use the lid of the egg box as a tray underneath the seed pods. The cardboard egg boxes are quick thick so I'll pierce a few small holes into the cardboard underneath the seed pods for water drainage.
Homemade tissue box seed trays
Tissue boxes are a bit thin but I think they would make good seed trays in a pinch. You could pack them tightly onto a tray. When you need to move them outside, you can move the whole tray instead of picking up the fragile tissue boxes.
Watering organic seedling pots
These organic pots will need to be watered more frequently than plastic pots. They tend to dry out more quickly so you will have to keep an eye on them. All in all, I think it's a small price to pay for a healthy start for my plants. You don't even have any wastage. The plastic-free seed pots can be planted along with the seedlings and they will gradually compost and even provide some nutrients for the seedlings.
Terracotta seed pots
These are also a great alternative. My local garden centre sells inexpensive terracotta seed pots and I have some of those too. I like to start herbs in these lovely pots because they look so pretty indoors on the windowsill.
You could also use empty tomato or fruit tins. You just have to remember to drill some holes in the bottom for drainage.
Planting up newspaper seedling pots
Planting up newspaper seedling pots is easy. Here's how you do it:
- Fill up the pot with potting soil that's specific for seedlings.
- If you have a wooden pot tamper, use that to compact the soil inside the pot. I don't have one so I'm using a small glass tea-light holder to tamp down the soil.
- Top up with soil and tamp down again.
- Once the newspaper seedling pot is full, use a seed dibber to make some holes where you want your seeds to go. You'll only use the dibber for seeds which need to be covered in earth. Some seeds need to be exposed to light to germinate. They are just sprinkled over the top of the earth. Gently press those seeds to the earth so that they make good contact. Follow the information on the seed packet to see how deep to plant your seeds.
Watering newspaper seedling pots
After planting, give your seeds a good watering from the bottom. Place the trays in a cool room or greenhouse to germinate. Again, not all seeds are created equal when it comes to germination. Read the instructions on the packet for details of the specific seed requirements.
All you need to do now is check the soil now and again to make sure it's not too wet/dry. Add more water to the seed tray if you think the plastic-free pots are looking a bit dry.
To increase humidity, you could cover the seed trays with a sheet of glass. I keep some old glass shelves for this purpose. I rest them over the top of the seed trays until the seedlings get too tall that I have to remove the glass 'roof'. I'm hoping this will work with the newspaper seedling pots too.
Fingers crossed, this all works out and my seedlings will grow into strong, healthy plants. I'm hoping to have an abundance of flowers for the vase this year.
Organic gardening at home
My father was an avid gardener. As a child, I learned so much about gardening just by being around him. He gardened organically and made compost and plant fertilizers using raw plant material. I remember asking him what that 'smelly black stuff' was which was festering away in the greenhouse. He told me it was 'Liquid gold for plants' and went about reciting the ingredients that went into making it.
Sadly, I was too young to be that interested in the makings of stinky garden fertilizer. It wasn't until long after my Dad's death that I got into gardening. By then most of that knowledge, having not been written down, was lost.
Organic gardening for beginners
Although I forgot the actual recipes my father used in our garden, I didn't forget the importance of gardening organically. When it came time for me to start my garden, I set about searching for some good resources.
I wanted to create a chemical-free garden and safe haven for children, pets and wildlife. That's how I came to find one of the best gardening resources I've ever read.
One of the best resources for organic gardening
The book is called 'Organic Gardening' by Geoff Hamilton. He is one of the UK's most fondly remembered TV gardeners and long-time presenter of the BBC TV programme 'Gardener's World'. After Geoff's passing, the book was re-worked by his son to include the latest in sustainable gardening techniques. It's jam-packed full of information for almost anything you could ever grow. Whether it be fruit, veg, flowers, shrubs or herbs.
The book contains information on organic pest control, garden design, ornamental and container gardening and so much more. Of course, there is a 'Gardening Year' section detailing all the tasks to be carried out in the garden throughout the year.
If you are interested in finding out more about the benefits of chemical-free, organic gardening, this book is definitely worth a look.
Here's where you can buy the book if you are in the USA.
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Shop the post - UK
Well, that's a wrap for this post. I hope you will be inspired to try making newspaper seedling pots for yourself. Tag me on social media using #chalkingupsuccess if you decide to try it out. Maybe we can compare notes and tips!
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