How to make organic planting pots using old newspapers

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Picture of How to make organic planting pots using old newspapers
This is a great way of making your own organic planting pots. The final product (ie the pots) are great for your small plants, they can be put very tightly together and when the plant is ready to be put into the ground you can plant it with pot still on. The paper will gradually break down in the ground.
On the market there are a few different tools to make this pots, this is an easy way using things you probably already own.
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Step 1: What you need

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Pair of scissors

Step 2: Basic cutting

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Use your bottle as a guide to see where you should cut the newspaper. I like to cut several pages each time.

Step 3: Wrap the paper around the bottle

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As seen in the picture

Step 4: Folding the bottom of the pot

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Using finger of your choice, fold excess paper towards bottom of bottle. It is useful in this step if bottom of bottle is slightly concave.

Step 5: Flatten the bottom

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Remove pot from bottle. If you look inside the pot the bottom will be raised. Use fingers or knuckles to press bottom flat.

Step 6: Fill with soil

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This is what makes the pot steady. Without soil it will disintegrate in a few second.

Step 7: Final planting

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Plant your seed, water and try to remember which kind of seed in which pot... Or make nice-looking tags.
It is useful to put the pots together as this will create a great climate for growing plants. When you water the plants the water will gradually diffuse into surroundning pots making the maintenance of pots easy.
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mike88992 months ago

I am not sure how the true organic gardeners would react to using newspaper to plant seeds in. If the ink in newspaper has soy in it, 90% of the soy grown in the United States is GMO.

You can get newspaper end rolls directly from the newspaper publisher with no ink on them.

sevenofone2 months ago

You can get newspaper end rolls directly from the newspaper publisher with no ink on them.

lak7809 months ago

Very usefulll... will try with my 4 year old today... a we plan to plant some vege seeds today... great job

vimzz1 year ago

Thanks for sharing this creative, simple and environment friendly idea

SIRJAMES091 year ago
COOL!!! TY for sharing...I know that I can always count on my "instructables family" to teach me something new. TY
walkwest2 years ago
Really like this idea. I’ve always used newspaper as mulch in my garden to keep the weeds down but never thought of this ..Thanks
Okay, Instructables, who ate all of the popsicles? LoL.

Regarding setting pot out into the garden without removing the plant, did your answer mean that if you use just the sheet that you used in the demonstration, that the pot would not harm the growth of the plant?
kahakura2 years ago
To prevent drying out, place all your newly potted plants in a tray that allows approximately 20 mm of water to sit in the bottom. If the tray is deeper than about 20mm, drill holes in the sides so it overflows at 20 mm. Your plants will not dry out as they suck up the water from the base tray. You can water directly into the tray.

If you have a tray with holes in it, place a rectanglar piece of heavy plastic inside the tray base before putting your pot plants in the tray. Make sure the water will overflow at about 20 mm so the plant does not get too much water.

We do this with native trees in New Zealand that require watering from underneath. They never dry out. Maybe you could try this.
I've been using a whole section of newspaper for each pot. It makes them much sturdier and holds water better, but it is still okay to plant the pot?
It should be fine. Will take longer to decompose and make sure you put drainage holes in the bottom. Most plants, especially tender ones, don't like to get their feet too wet :)
GregTraver3 years ago
This is a such a great idea! I am always looking for a project that helps get the kids involved, they are already excited about starting seeds this Spring for the raised beds. I am sure they will have a great time experimenting and discovering all sorts of variables on this. Thanks
Luffchylde3 years ago
One thing I haven't seen mentioned is the fact that degrading newspaper attracts earthworms! Don't worry about the naysayers, some people will find something negative to say about anything. I've read articles about these, but never anything saying how to do it. Awesome and simple!
ozi6 years ago
Don't you find that the water leeches and evaporates out of the pots quickly?
ac-dc ozi4 years ago
It's not much of an issue because you still have water loss through the top of the soil, an area you have to keep watering anyway because it's where the seed/root starts out. Plus, if you didn't have the water loss then the newspaper would stay very wet all the time which could lead to early rupture before you're ready to transplant.
yngla (author)  ozi6 years ago
Yes, you have to add water quite often. I guess putting them in a plastic container will prevent that.
dmackie14 years ago
About chemicals on newspapers: worth checking that the inks on the newspaper you read are fully soy based. From what I understand, the Guardian newspaper in the UK still uses mineral oils, which are quite toxic.

These are very quick to make...
cosmov4 years ago
this is great... i did it just to save money and now I have starts for the whole neighborhood....thanks
Westtexian4 years ago
wow ! Thanks for the instructions. I am always sharing cuttings with friends and I never have "extra" pots. This will sorta insure that they will survive at least until they get to their new home!
 Great idea,  I used a piece of PVC pipe as the mold and I used an old phone book with soy based inks for the paper.  If you tuck in paper on the bottem edge and then tamp it down from the inside it is a little sturdier.  I used a small piece of masking tape to secure the paper after I wrapped it around the pipe. I also tamped down the damp potting soil with a piece of dowel rod to compact it like a peat pellet.  When you plant the whole pot in the garden leave a little of the paper above the ground and this will help prevent cut worms from killing your plants.
Mccall1015 years ago
 Can you make drainage holes?

The newspaper is porous, so if you over water your plant, the water will soak through the newspaper.  Just make sure you put your organic planting pots in a tray to collect any water in the event that you do accidentally over water.
duleonar5 years ago
Thrifty Nickel here I come!!!  :)
fmlywomn5 years ago
jcdines5 years ago
Here is one more pic. I grew all the plants from seeds... using a 200 count plug tray. BTW ... the size of the measuring cup in this picture is 4 cups.... just to give you and idea of the size of the containers I made. Hope this inspires all of you to get out there and get growing !!!
jcdines5 years ago
After your plants have out-grown their small containers you'll want to transplant them into bigger ones.... and leave then there until they get big enough to be able to survive all the critters that will want to snack on them !!! I made the bigger containers out of a 64 oz plastic container. The container happened to have an indentation on the bottom .... which allowed me to fold the newspaper into it so that it would stay in place. If the indentation had not been there I probably would have just cut out a big enough hole to accomplish more or less the same thing. Here is a picture of the bottle I used and the containers I made. As you can see, I transplanted one of the tomato plants into the larger container.
mrsthursday5 years ago
my pots have been misshapened and wobbley, your bottle guide idea is excellent.
sal2435 years ago
You do not even need to cut the paper. Just use the whole sheet and fold in the excess at the bottom. That way there is no scraps. Also the length or height of the newspaper should depend on the plant, some require different depths.
Thanks for posting this as a first year gardener it was very helpful since it's expensive to get started. Very Awesome!!!
Robil5 years ago
I just made about 40 of these neat little pots in about an hour! Some helpful techniques I used are: 1) fold an inch wide flap down across the length of the paper to give your pot a crisp top edge, extra support, and a more pleasant aesthetic (it resembles the top edge of a terracotta pot). 2) use a little dab from a non-toxic glue stick (along the last edge you roll up) to keep the roll from coming undone before you fill it with soil 3) prepare all of your materials (cut and fold paper, cut strips of tape, and get a scoop of the proper size for the soil) before you start to manufacture the pots in large quantities- this improves your efficiency at least twofold!
Thank you for your added suggestions, they I didn't do the glue stick cause I cut a little bit and tucked it under the flap. But the folded edge allowed for the flap and I do prefer that look. Again thanks!
This is a fantastic idea. I never thought about making biodegradable pots from newspaper. it helped me alto to start my garden this year great Instructable!
likesfish5 years ago
you can get a really nice wooden kit that presses them out always meant to get one but this works just as well. my first instructable completed but will I keep the plants alive longer enough for it to matter:)
cshore12135 years ago
Can you transplant the seedling into your garden without removing the newspaper? Will it break down in the soil fast enough so as not to harm the plants??
yngla (author)  cshore12135 years ago
Yes, as long as you don´t use too much paper (ie double or triple up for stability, in this case that´s not a good idea)
patanddave5 years ago
thank you just made 6 pots planted seeds tagged and are now sitting in my greenhouse a great money saver
cc10165 years ago
this is a money saver and it is really cool
cc10165 years ago
hey this was a great idea it was fun to do with my children
tatihana005 years ago
this was a great idea!!! i used my old phone book though, i'm not too worried about the ink and other things because all the phone book ones grow my marigolds. so it's great because i went from one marigold to now having six. thank you so much for the instructable.
AstralQueen5 years ago
I use biodegradable cellotape whem making these pots; they break down pretty quick so when my plants are ready to transplant all i do is tear the bottom bit of the pot open and plant the whole thing into the ground. the tapes break down into this sticky stretchy thing, it's really pretty awesome. :D I love this idea; i saw this instuctable a while back, and i have only recently created my account to comment.
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