After posting new photos of the seedlings, some were asking about the newspaper pots I use. They are completely free (aside from the soil we buy to fill them with although one could use their own soil and compost) because I use papers that come to our house every week for free. We get an insane amount of junk mail here. About two inches thick every week. A lot of it is slick fliers which can’t be used but about 30 pages is just local newspapers. That’s 30 pots a week.
I have been making my own newspaper pots for about a year now. If I didn’t want to make myself so insane, I might just make a few every week throughout the year. Then I could store them up for planting time. Instead I wait until the time comes and make about 10-20 pots a night. It really does get monotonous and boring. But sometimes I can talk Stefan into doing the first part of the folding (in half three times) and then I do the rest.
I store them in groups of 10, using of the pots to hold 9 folded pots. This keeps them from opening up before I use them and I can quickly see how many pots I have ready for planting already.
The free newspapers here in Germany have various sizes and a single half-sheet that I use for folding may have one of the following measurements: 35 x 51cm (about 14 x 20 in) or 40 x 57cm (16 x 22.5in). The majority of the paper is 35×51 but the bigger pieces make slightly larger pots which are great for planting multiple seeds or larger plants like zucchini, pumpkins, squashes, etc.
There are other ways of making newspaper pots, some involving a bottle or a special device you buy. I prefer this origami style that doesn’t use any tape or staples to hold them together. Then I can just drop the whole pot into the ground if I need to. Sometimes the roots will grow right through the pots so you don’t even have to worry about damaging them. But they do take a little while to break down. On the other hand, they hold up remarkably well for seedlings and I have had no trouble with them falling apart. You definitely should put them in a tray or on plastic, though, as they tend to leak.
I’ve made a little video to show you how it works. I think it’s far easier to understand than a written version with photos…but you can find that below the video as well if you prefer.
Happy planting and hope you have a beautiful harvest!
How to Fold Your Own Newspaper Pots
TIP: I use a pen or pencil on each crease as I make the pots to make the folds really firm. I find it helps during the process and doesn’t get my hands quite as dirty.
- Start with half a sheet of newspaper.
- Fold it in half from bottom to top.
- Then fold it in half again, from left to right.
- Fold it in half a final time from left to right. This will serve as a marker for later folds. You can unfold it again.
- Lay the paper lengthwise in front of you with all the loose edges facing away from you. Take the right corner of the newspaper and fold it to the center. The line you folded in the last step will serve as a marker.
- Now take the corner and open the triangle, pulling the lower right corner to the left. Line up the middle fold of the now top piece with the edge of the newspaper below it. You will have the shape below which slightly resembles a newspaper hat.
- Flip the paper over and repeat the process.
- Once you’ve got the sides folded and lining up, you need to flip the folds so the insides become the outsides.
- You should have the flat paper in front of you with no folds visible.
- Now you start folding in a paper airplane fashion. Fold the “wings” to the middle fold…
- And in half again.
- Rotate the newspaper and repeat the two folds to the middle.
- Flip the paper over and fold the “wings” exactly the same way.
- When all those folds are complete, your newspaper should look like this.
- Fold the sides over the edge of the soon to be pot on both sides.
- Then reach inside and pop open your new seedling pot.
- Now you can fold the wings down into the pot or leave them out. I think they are a bit sturdier inside.
- Do this on both sides and your pot should now look like the photo below, both wings folded in.
- Then fill up your pot with soil and some compost and you’re ready for planting. In the photo below, you can see the folded wings at the front of the pot, where the label is. We’ve just filled the pot with dirt using our hands, tamped it down so it’s solid and the dirt doesn’t disappear/compact when we start watering and let the seeds go to town!
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