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Making plant pots from old newspaper

by Adam Pasco

[...] I was always dubious about the idea of making small pots out of old newspaper. Surely they'll fall apart, I thought, and can't possibly be worth the bother. How wrong I was.

Plant pots made from old newspaperDon't dismiss an idea until you've tried it! I should have known better really, but I was always dubious about the idea of making small pots out of old newspaper. Surely they'll fall apart, I thought, and can't possibly be worth the bother. How wrong I was.

Someone gave me a kit of wooden block templates last spring, so I set about wrapping them with strips of newspaper, and crimping over the base to make small pots. Filled with compost, I sowed peas in each pot, then grouped them together in a tray to keep moist. Within weeks beautiful well-rooted plants had developed, ready for planting directly outside without risk of disturbing the rootball.

Following this success I've tried growing other crops in newspaper pots, including beans and courgettes, and am now hooked.

It's actually quite therapeutic setting up a little paper pot production line as I watch the evening news on TV, cramming trays with pots ready for sowing. And of course, the pots are free, biodegradable, and don't need washing once you've finished with them.

My blog on recycling in the garden last spring brought a wealth of great ideas from our blogging community, highlighting just how useful many items classed as waste can be. Cardboard items can be used as pots, while packaging and other plastic items can be put to good use for raising seeds.

Plain cardboard is never wasted in my household. If I don't need the toilet roll tubes, egg boxes or plain card as pots, I always shred them into small pieces and add to the compost heap where they quickly break down.

As we all know, the more we recycle the less needs to be disposed of or go to landfill, so every little helps. So if anyone has any spare old newspapers I know a gardener who would love them!

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Gardeners' World Web User 21/03/2011 at 17:33

Hi Adam very interesting can you expalne how to make these pots??????

Gardeners' World Web User 21/03/2011 at 18:03

Emily, You can buy nice little wooden kits with full instructions on how to make paper pots or do as we do which is use an aerosol deodorant can as the former. In fact any hard round container would do, having a concave bottom is helpful. You take 2 or 3 pieces of paper about the height you want your pots plus the diameter of your can by 2 or 3 times the circumference of it. It is then quite simple, wrap the paper round the can with the excess paper hanging over the bottom of the can. Fold this excess over over the bottom of the can, scrunching it together. Then push it down on to a hard surface and remove the can. I find it helps to put a single staple in the top edge to hold everything abit better.

Gardeners' World Web User 21/03/2011 at 18:54

my grandad and dad used woodbine packets.i use vending cups .but i will give paper a go . thanks for the tip

Gardeners' World Web User 21/03/2011 at 19:30

That's a brillant idea of using a can to make the pots from newspaper as the wooden kits are quite expensive!

Gardeners' World Web User 22/03/2011 at 09:10

Yesterday while sawing back a huge yucca I found a piece of wood off an old table or chair, just two pieces joined together with a one foot crossbar, It makes an ideal double dibber. I am using it to plant out primulas I am dividing and think it will also do for potatoes. Just look at what is around and use your imagination. There are free newspapers on the buses, good to catch up on the news and great for paper pots, Adam, but from the amount of pots people give me when they are tidying up ready to buy more ready-made plants I don't think I can live long enough to see them degraded by the frost. Perhaps I should cherish them as family heirlooms as oil shortage will mean plastic will be too expensive to produce in future. Was there not some controversy about the ink from the newspaper being detrimental to the soil or the birds recently?

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