Neccessity is the mother of invention! When garden funds ran low, my desire to grow food blossomed, and this project was born. Traditionally, small newspaper pots are used to start seedings. Inspiration for this pot came from a Natural Wood Raised Garden Instructable I read a while back. I thought the piles of bamboo we had laying around the yard could add the structure needed to put our little newspaper stash (the bamboo and newspaper were both craiglist scores) to use for something other than weed control in 'conventional' raised beds. Bamboo also improves the appearance of the pot, probably useful for people living in communities with strict landscaping rules. This is my first Instructable, so please go easy on me.
Step 1: Newpaper Pot Materials
Most of this stuff was either free or laying around our house. I'd say we spent about about $50 for the plant and some of the compost mix ingredients.
To make this pot, you'll need:
1) A good supply of bamboo (at least 60 3" pieces per pot, even more if you want to completely camouflage the newspaper). A couple that lived out in the country wanted to get rid of clumping bamboo in their yard, so we harvested hundreds of 6' pieces and have used them for everything imaginable).
2) Newspaper, we only used the black and white portions.
3) Loppers to cut bamboo to the desired length.
4) String to hold the pots together (we made string out of tshirts).
5) Mulch (newspaper works great, you can also use straw, or paper bags).
6) Potting mix (90% of the time we use the Squarefoot Garden compost blend -- equal parts compost, vermiculite and peat moss (or coir for something more sustainable) with a small amount of blood meal (provides nitrogen for leaf growth) and rock phosphate (phosphorus improves fruit and root development) blended in for good measure. Always read and follow fertilizer instructions before use. We buy compost (and tree mulch) at the local landfill for $10 a ton.
7) A large pot to serve as a template to get the diameter right.
8) The plant, of course! In our case we purchased a small grapefruit plant from a local garden center. This setup would also work well with herbs or other 'bushy' perennials.
9) PLEASE NOTE: The pot takes shape when we pushed the bamboo into the ground, so you may want to call ahead and find out where utilities are buried in your yard to avoid harming water, electrical, cable and/or gas lines.
Step 2: Location, Location, Location...
If you're planning to grow anything that produces fruit, you'll need a site that gets at least 6 hours of sun daily.
Step 3: Determine the Pot's Diameter.
We used a big plastic pot for the job. The inner circle of bamboo was formed around the pot. Another row of bamboo was created about 2" outside of this circle. You then remove your pot and are now ready to add the newspaper!
Step 4: Add Newspaper
CAREFULLY layer newspaper in the bottom of the pot, at least 10 layers thick. Then place newspaper between the inside and outside rows of bamboo, also 10 layers thick. At this point we had to tie the string around the outside row of bamboo to help hold its shape. The layers of newspaper were also spiraled upward to achieve the desired height.
Step 5: Fill With Soil
You can use old broken ceramic or plastic pots, sticks, plastic bottles or aluminum cans in the bottom of the pot. This helps cut down on the amount of soil needed to fill your pot AND improves drainage (a tip I got from a PBS garden show).
Step 6: Add Plant and Mulch Like Crazy
After removing grapefruit tree from the pot, remove at least an inch of soil on all sides. Agitate the roots to help improve the transition to their new home. Follow up with a good layer of mulch. Raised beds and pots are notorious for drying out so a good layer of mulch helps retain moisture and protect against weeds. Mulch shouldn't be any deeper 2-3 inches. Keep mulch about 2-3 inches away from the plant's stem (prevents root rot).
Step 7: Add More Bamboo to Get Desired Look and Trim
Finally, keep adding bamboo until the newspaper is no longer visible. Cut bamboo to the desired height. In the future, if I want to make this pot bigger, I'd simply create a new outer ring of bamboo, remove the innermost ring and add layers of newspaper in between. We live in the coastal plains of South Carolina and certain citrus cultivars can handle colder temps. Like I said early on I'm hoping to add more windbreaks to help control the climate and extend our growing seasons for warm weather plants. To find out about the varieties of fruit or nut trees that grow well in your area, check with your local extension office or their website. They offer soil tests to help figure out which fertiIizers you'll need (if any). I hope these instructions are helpful. Happy gardening!