EASY Eco-friendly Garden Pots for Free! Recycled, Green, Newspaper Seed Planting Pots for Spring!




About: We are a 25 acre farm about an hour south of St. Louis run by a couple who are gaining experience as we go. With a ton of theoretical knowledge (crap we read in books but haven't had a chance to apply,) we d...

This easy instructable will show you how to turn that boring old paper filled with bad news and ads for crap you can't afford into seedling pots for your spring garden. Not only will you get to re-use your newspaper, but you won't have to buy any expensive plastic or peat pots from the store. Get ready spring, we're coming!

The only items you will need to construct the pots are:
*a straight edged (not tapered) glass/cup 
* some newspaper
* rubber bands (optional)

Cost to assemble pots: free
optional cost for rubber bands and additional cost for planting materials.

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Step 1: What You Need

As stated before, all you NEED is a newspaper and a cup, but for all intents and purposes I am showing everything I would use from start to finish to construct and then plant inside these pots.

1) Newspaper. I have chosen our local paper. (Once a week, but never weakly)
2) A NON-TAPERED glass. I have included several options in the photos, but I will use the ever classic Flinstones glass I have had since the 30th anniversary of 1960 (YEAH, MATH!)
3) A rubber band (for each pot) the approximate size (not larger than) the glass. (Optional, but beneficial)
4) Potting soil of your choice
5) Seedling/planting tray
6) Seeds

Step 2: Preparing the Paper

As this is a "smaller" paper and not full sized, I use 2 sheets (you can use only one, but the pots are not as sturdy. I also tried using 3, and they do not want to stay together.) The important thing to remember is to use plain newspaper, and nothing glossy. Most inks are soy based, though I do generally try to use only the black and white print- some color is not bad. Just make sure to avoid things like shiny/slick ads and magazines.

* Lay the 2 sheets on top of each other
* Fold in half lengthwise (make sharp creases and try to line them up the best you case as folding gets a little squirrely if folded uneven.)
* Fold in half again

Step 3: Place the Glass

Using your non-tapered glass, place it on the edge of the paper, approximately 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up the paper. Remember that the part that is not touching the glass will be the bottom, so you need to make sure it is enough to touch, but not so much that your pot will be shallow. When you begin folding, there will be a small opportunity to correct (if need be.)

Roll the paper tightly around the glass minding the angle you roll. Try to keep it as straight as possible.

Step 4: Begin the Bottom

Set the glass down and fold the exposed paper inside the glass.
(no worries about trying to fold neatly or perfectly, I find it is a waste of time, as it will get messed up anyway.

Step 5: Invert Glass

Invert the glass and (CAREFULLY) remove it. Do your best not to unwind the rolled paper, but it isn't the end of the world if you do.
(This is where you see how much "bottom material" you have. If it is too much or not enough, you can readjust your glass placement and refold.

Step 6: Create the Bottom of the Pot

Your pot should stand freely at this point. If it unrolls, you did not roll tightly enough. If it came apart while removing the glass you may have rolled too tightly.

Using your fingers, push down the paper on the inside of the pot to create the bottom. You may also re-insert the (bottom) of the glass to tamp it down.

Step 7: Support Pot

(and I don't mean NORML)

It took a few years of aggrevtion with these pots to get this simple idea.
You can use a rubber band around the pot to support it and take away any worry of the flap.

I toyed with the idea of staples or tape, but I find this to be the most "environmentally friendly" as 1) it never touches the plant/dirt if concern of contamination, 2) it is easily removable and 3) it can be re-used.

Though the rubber band is not necessary, it does make the pots more sturdy and makes it easier to fit more into a container because the flap has been secured. I also find that once the paper gets wet (from watering...don't forget to water your seeds!) that it does hold better so it may not be necessary the entire time. Generally speaking, it is easier to just take them off when you plant, and not worry again until then.

Step 8: Ta'Da! Now, Fill the Pot

Not too bad huh? Technically you're finished and it is time to fill your pot.

We place ours in trays in order to accommodate as many pots as possible in a small space, for easy watering and moving.

Fill your pot with the potting soil of your choice and get ready to plant!

Step 9: Choose Wisely

At Chopping Block Farm ( www.choppingblockfarm.com or www.facebook.com/choppingblockfarm ) we use Non-GMO heirloom variety seeds. This particular variety is from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (www.rareseeds.com) and the seed packet art was done by yours truly, Farmer Connie!

Plant your seed, love your seed, play it music and watch it grow.

Step 10: Transplanting Your Seed/Pot

We find that it is a little better to remove the pot when planting in the ground, though not necessary.
Plants that have weaker roots will not always push through the paper and they may become root bound.

(Don't forget to remove your rubber band if it is still in place!)

Feel free to check out our facebook page, website and other (coming soon) Instructables. With Spring coming, they will be bountiful. (Get it, a springtime joke!)

Happy Building from Chopping Block Farm!


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    8 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    What a terrific idea, I think this will be a great way to start my zinnias this year, last year planting the seeds one by one I over planted and got a fungus because they were so close together. This way I'll have more control of placement and should have an incredible evenly spaced garden of giant and Zona Zinnias!! Thanks for this inexpensive and eco-friendly idea! Can't wait to get my hands dirty!!

    Abdullah Balack

    5 years ago

    great idea to recycle newspaper in a fun and useful way…


    5 years ago on Step 8

    Looks cool! I'll have to try it this spring :)


    5 years ago on Introduction

    A toilet paper cardboard tube works well for a mold. Fold the bottom over then use a broom handle to tamp the bottom flat, slide the tube out. I've been starting plants from seeds like this for years and have never had one fall apart unless it was over watered. I don't use anything to hold it together either (rubber band).


    5 years ago

    I have one question; wouldn't the newspaper pots get soggy from watering the seeds and eventually fall apart?

    2 replies

    We have been using these (in conjunction with soil cubes) for years. We had that problem in the beginning and contributed it to 2 factors: 1) Over-watering. As these are technically enclosed pots, think of watering them like plastic pots. You wouldn't water those until water poured out the bottom, just enough to dampen the soil. When we watered "better" we no longer had this problem. The rubber band also supports the pot. 2) Using only one piece of newspaper. Using two gives more support.

    These are not meant to be permanent homes, just for seed starting until they can be placed in the ground. As a nearly free alternative to plastic or costly peat pots (when we start literally multiple hundreds of plants at a time) they seem to do exactly what they were intended to do, then make nice additions to the compost bin.

    If you have had issues with pots falling apart- I would suggest trying to adjust watering, try two sheets of paper and give the rubber band a shot :)