How To: Biodegradable Newspaper Seed Starters




Introduction: How To: Biodegradable Newspaper Seed Starters

About: i'm pretty sure the junkyard garden from Harriet the Spy shaped the way i view the world.

There are definitely a LOT of different versions of this How To on here (like here & here & here );

This is what worked for me, and I hope it helps you, too!

You'll Need:
- newspaper
- scissors
- flexible mold (I used a very small plastic pot)
- water
- tacky glue (it's non-toxic & kid safe)
- mixing pot (I used a 1 gallon flower pot)
- plastic spoon, for mixing glue & water

Please Note: I am new, but trying to be eco-friendly. If you know of a specific publication that uses soy-based newspaper ink, & biodegradable glue - go for it! And let me know which products you use that are inexpensive & eco-friendly! :D

Post-Publish-Edit: THANK YOU! to the editor who decided to feature this How To!  :D

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Step 1: Cut Your Newspaper & Make Your Mache Mix

I'm using the business section (haha!). I've folded it vertically into 3rds (perfect size for my pot). Cut your strips, and set them aside in a dry area. As you can see, the mold I'm using is pretty small (circumference = 10.5in or 26.5cm & height = 2.5in or 6cm) and cost about 88cents at your local big box store. I'm going to be working with the section below the cuff of the pot.

I put a bottle of room temp water in this 1g pot, plenty of room to dip - it will only fill 2-3" due to the "self-watering" design. I didn't use that much glue, just a good squirt - enough to make the water milky when mixed.*

*I've noticed some people have over-complicated with running/hot water and specific ratios of water to glue - this way was much simpler. 

Step 2: Wrapping & Folding the Newspaper Around the Pot

Take your vertical strip of newspaper, and wrap it around your mold. if your mold is tapered (like mine), you might have a little difficulty getting it to line up along the top edge.

While holding the seam down, start to fold the bottom in. It should look like a mini-envelope. 

Step 3: Dipping Your Mold

Because my mixing pot was shallow, I was only able to submerge the mold partially. DO NOT FRET!   I turned my mold over, as to let the extra water drip down. But really, when dipping - use both hands and just ladle the mache mix onto the paper. It is OK to have this layer drenching wet!

Step 4: Adding 2nd Layer of Newspaper & Removing It From the Mold

While the mold is sitting & soaked, take your 2nd strip of newspaper, and wrap it around your mold, just like you did before. This time around, it will be easier - because as you lay it, the new layer soaks up excess mix! If your 2nd layer still has dry areas, go ahead and ladle some mache mix onto it. You DO want the 2nd layer completely wet! Go ahead and press any loose areas down. 

Here comes the semi-complicated part... getting the wet newspaper off of the mold.

Because I used smooth, flexible plastic, this won't be too hard. With the bottom of the mold to your open palm, place your fingers on & around the mold. Apply even pressure with the pads of your fingers, and pull the mold with your other hand. Hopefully it came off on your first try - mine ended up being a ball of mush, so don't be discouraged!

I set the pots outside to dry (it's super warm & humid in California right now). So far, it's been 2 hours and they have already started to harden - not a lot, but enough to keep their shape.

Hope you're successful & HAVE FUN! :D

Would you look at that! Never thought I'd see THAT american presidential hopeful on anything bio-degradable... ;P

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    8 years ago on Introduction

    Here is an all natural glue. I'm not sure how well it will stand up but I remember using it when I was a kid and the volcano never fell apart.