Instructables

Make Paper That Grows - Recycle, Renew, and Plant It In The Ground

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Picture of Make Paper That Grows - Recycle, Renew, and Plant It In The Ground
How many tons of junk mail do we get over the course of a week across America? Everyone wants to sell you everything and has the solution to any problem you can think of and it fills our trashcans and landfills. Heres a way to put that junk mail to a good use and spare the overburdened landfills too.

This can be used to create anything you like recipe cards, gardening tip cards, gift tags, notepaper, stationary, etc., and makes a very thoughtful gift.

I have found several methods on doing this but none of them seemed to work quite right for me, so through a lot of trial and error and finding a few tricks of my own I was able to get a more desired effect from my project.

Make sure to have removed any foreign objects such as staples, stamps, glue strips, etc., and check your paper for any hint of slick or shine which indicates a varnish has been applied to it and it should not be used.
 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
Prepared paper mentioned in the intro
An old wooden picture frame or make a frame to your desired size
Fine Window or Door Screen Material
A Staple Gun or Heavy Duty Tacks
Old Terry Cloth Towels
White Towels (not terry cloth 2 per sheet of paper)
Baking Sheets
Cooling Racks like you would use for cookies
Bricks or something to add weight
A Blender
A Rolling Pin
A Plastic Container, larger than your frame
A Pitcher
Waxed Paper
Any kind of small flat flower or vegetable seeds, I used tomato seeds for this project.

Step 2: Make Your Frame

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Staple or tack screening material to Frame. Place in plastic container and set inside the plastic tub.

Step 3: Shred and Mix Your Paper

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Fill blender with prepared paper as described in the intro about 2/3 full. Add enough water to cover paper and fill blender almost full.

Run blender on high speed until mixture is thick and pulpy looking almost like wet cement.

Step 4: Pour Your Paper

Picture of Pour Your Paper
Pour the mixture over the screen material in the frame, make a second batch and repeat. Spread mixture out as evenly as possible.
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abdalado9 months ago

That's incredible, if i dry the paper on a 338ºC ( 170 ºC ) heating plate would it kill the seeds? ( consider drying it about 20 seconds ), i know that's a very specific question but who knows,right? maybe you know the answer . Did the seeds start growing not being planted? Wich seeds did you use? Wich do you know you could use?

strmrnnr5 years ago
What about adding some pureed food to the paper for nitrogen content. If you could pre-mix a 30:1 ratio ( C:N ) and dry it out good, do you think it would start to smell or anything bad?
DebH57 (author)  strmrnnr5 years ago
IMHO I would be concerned with the food smelling and maybe rotting.
DIY-Guy DebH573 years ago
Try unflavored gelatin powder for a nice nitrogen boost to seedlings on paper or paper-tape, no smell to speak of either.
What would you recommend for a vegan replacement to the gelatin? Would agar-agar work?
MECHANOLATRY says:

"What would you recommend for a vegan replacement to the gelatin? Would agar-agar work?"



Is agar-agar similar in chemical composition to bone or hair?

Agar-agar is from seaweed, but what chemicals are most of the bulk?

Does agar-agar help strengthen fingernails and hair? If so, it could be a source of chemicals which supply nitrogen.

I'm sure other people would be glad to hear of your findings. Try "nutritional comparison gelatin vs agar-agar" in the Google. Hope you find something!
Deewheat5 years ago
A great idea, although I don't have the space or patience LOL!
hsmomof25 years ago
This is a great "green" idea for gardening. I feel guilty when I throw away paper, so this would be a neat idea. Is it printer paper that you shredded specifically?
DebH57 (author)  hsmomof25 years ago
You can use pretty much any kind of paper Hsmom, read through the intro for guidelines
hsmomof2 DebH575 years ago
Thank you for answering back. I miss some of the details the first time I read through instructions.
DebH57 (author)  hsmomof25 years ago
NP Hsmom
im4tooele5 years ago
That's so neat!
DebH57 (author)  im4tooele5 years ago
Thanks Im4
chauntee25 years ago
I really like this idea>
DebH57 (author)  chauntee25 years ago
Thanks Cahuntee
juvinurse5 years ago
Even I could do this!
DebH57 (author)  juvinurse5 years ago
Yes its pretty easy Juvinurse and if you have kids over the age of 6 they like to get in on the act too
flothmann5 years ago
Ha guys, some very important tips: WARNING: this step it´so critical overall the project.

1) The space between each seed must be taken in consideration because if they are too close each other when the plant grows up they will fight for minerals and like final result you will get two or more weak plants furthermore some may die.

2 ) Keep in mind the germination rate, this means that no 100% of the seeds that you place on the paper will germinate. Typ for a supermarket seed is 80% or less check the manufacture if is longer than one year you rate will drop to 40%, (search for other option)

3) Are you planning to use this paper only to germinate the seed and after 28 days you will transplant to another place (for bigger space) or this is going to be the final position of the plant?
keep in mind the space requirements for an adult plant for example tomato needs at least 1 foot around the root and a lettuce only needs 6 inches

I hope it helps you

DebH57 (author)  flothmann5 years ago
It is mainly used to get plants started and up to the user if they want to thin it out or plant permanently.
macrumpton5 years ago
I wonder if you could build a frame with a couple of crank driven rollers like an old wringer washer or pasta machine and have the rollers squish the water out and flatten the paper. It would probably require the pulp being placed between two sheets of screen or stiff fabric to support the pulp while squishing and drying. Adjusting the tension on the rollers would control the paper thickness.
DebH57 (author)  macrumpton5 years ago
I don't see why not but I would use fabric, flat linen towels, etc., as screen would leave a rough imprint on the paper itself.
aunty5 years ago
Good project, you have done well.
DebH57 (author)  aunty5 years ago
Thank you Aunty
Bratillia5 years ago
Nice one.
DebH57 (author)  Bratillia5 years ago
Thanks Bratillia
thepelton5 years ago
The best type of paper to use is dull surface with no colored ink. Colored ink can contain lead, and slick paper uses a clay that might interfere with it's recyclability.
DebH57 (author)  thepelton5 years ago
Yes it is Pelton and all slick and even a hint of gloss should be avoided. Thaks for your comment.
strmrnnr5 years ago
If I used fresh seeds ( say from a red pepper ) could I allow them to do the intial drying in the paper and store them in a dry area unrefrigerated?
DebH57 (author)  strmrnnr5 years ago
I have never tried it so I can't say with certainty, but I don't see why not, it would be worth a shot at it to find out. Great idea, thanks for commenting.
Kira535 years ago
When do you put the lint out for the birds. It's June 20th, do you think they still need lint? Also where do you put the lint for them to find it ? Thanks for you instructables.
DebH57 (author)  Kira535 years ago
I keep an old thistle seed sock tacked to a post full of it. I bought it at Wally World it's kind of like a mesh bag and they pick it out and since they are still pecking at it I guess they are still nest building.
Lor5 years ago
This instructable is SO cool. I love that it's multi-instructive, i.e., adding seeds to the paper. I found your page from your instructable on making seed tapes. What a find you are. I'm subscribing! Thanks a bunch...hehe (pun intended).
DebH57 (author)  Lor5 years ago
Thanks Lor I appreciate you too!
Lor Lor5 years ago
(pun referring to carrots; i know that was obscure.)
BettyBoop15 years ago
This looks interesting. I will try with the grandkids next visit
DebH57 (author)  BettyBoop15 years ago
Good idea Betty, have fun!
Raydoom5 years ago
This is a briliant idea, mabey if you add bleach or acid when you blend it you will have a clean white finished product great idea ,im lookn forward to doing this
DebH57 (author)  Raydoom5 years ago
Most commercial inks and newsprint ink are soy based now days and highly biodegradable (but not all), a general rule of thumb is to avoid anything with even a hint slick or shine, indicating a varnish has been applied which in most cases is needed for non soy base inks to prevent bleeding and transfer, and sometimes advertisers want the shiny regardless. I don't know what if any reaction bleach would cause to the seeds embedded in it.
RoBear6135 years ago
Most commercial inks use heavy metals to give the colors vibrance and depth. You should never use these in the garden. You should, instead, send these to the recycler so they can be properly de-inked. Newspaper (not the insets), however, uses vegetable based inks and are very ecologically friendly. You can even spread them out as a weed block before applying a top dressing of mulch.
DebH57 (author)  RoBear6135 years ago
Thanks RoBear thats why I stated above about not using papers with any hint of shine to them those types also require a varnish to be applied to retain the colors. Thanks for your comment.
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