Friday, February 20, 2009

How to Make Great Newspaper Plant Pots For Your Tomato Seedlings

So your seedlings are up and already starting their Real leaves. Time to transplant into pots. However pots not only may be hard to find at this time of the year, they may be expensive. There is simple and easy way to make your own pots, varying from 2-1/2 inch size to nearly 4" with a little reinforcement with masking tape on the big ones! I use the color advertisements as these are made of sturdier stuff and the color inks now days are made with a base of Soy Bean Oil. Quite Organic as is the paper. Amazingly enough, they will stand up to watering etc. for months without disintegrating when kept in a tray and out of the ground. I made my first pots out of the Sunday Supplement from electronics pages of a Best Buy advertiser! However, plain newsprint worked just as well. So now we not only can wrap fish in newspapers, but we can wrap Tomato and Pepper seedlings as well! You should be able to turn out about 50 to 60 an hour - maybe more after making the first few.

So Lets Start:

If your are wanting to transplant seedlings into these pots right away, now is a perfect time to do it. If not you can set the pots aside until you are ready to use them. For this how to, I will assume you want to proceed with transplanting the seedlings into pots.

Here's What You Need:

* Potting Soil (Preparation Follows)
* Old Newspapers
* Scissors
* Masking Tape
* Two Inch rolling Tube (Small Bottle, etc.
about 2-1/2 inches across. I used a Rooting
Compound container in the picture above).
* A knife to cut masking tape into strips.
* Wax Paper
Begin by ripping the newspaper into single sheets.

Fold each sheet into 3rd's lengthwise:
Tear or cut the newspaper into 3 equal strips. If you wish to make larger pots, just make the strips wider. 3 strips per sheet will give you close to a 2-1/2 inch pot.
Lay out several strips of masking tape sticking it to the wax paper.

With the knife or scissors cut the wax paper and tape strips into lengths of about 3 inches.
These strips will be used to secure the pots on the bottom and side.

We are now ready to roll our first pot. Notice that a little of the newspaper hangs over on the end of the roller. This will become the bottom of the pot and should be about 1 inch. This will be folded over to form the bottom of the pot.

Roll the the newspaper strip up on the roller. The straighter and snugger
you do this the nicer will be the pot. But the plants probably won't care
either way as long as it holds enough soil and water.
Carefully fold the ends in with your other hand - four flaps.

While holding the bottom down with one hand, grab a strip of masking tape and lay it over the folds to hold them secure. Only one will be necessary unless you buy some really cheap tape. Then all bets are off! Use strips of Duck tape which is much more expensive if you can't find good quality masking tape. I haven't tried scotch tape so I can't say how it works for this.

Add a second strip along the open side

And your finished with a nice little pot. Repeat process several hundred times if you want a lot of cheap pots. Use the same process to make even bigger pots with wider strips and a bean can etc.
For small amounts, use your wife's cookie dough mixing pan - but don't let her catch you! For larger amounts you may need a small bucket.
For rank amateurs a "part" means whatever you use to measure with. Your unit of measure. You use a cup, teaspoon, bucket, wheelbarrow, dump truck to measure every thing out the same. One cup-full, bucket-full etc. for each part. If it says 2 parts-measure out 2 teaspoons, 2 cups, 2 wheelbarrows, two truck loads. Etc.
(And for those who are laughing, there once was a day when you didn't know one end of a garden hoe from another either wipe that smirk off your face.
2 parts Vermiculite
2 parts Perlite
2 parts cheap (course) potting soil
1 part sifted compost
Mix these together gradually and thoroughly. Add a few dribbles of water at a time and stop when the material can just hold itself together when squeezed into a ball. Transplant your new seedlings into pots.
Covets: Make sure you have no cuts when mixing soil with your bare hands. Make sure your Tetanus shots are up to date. Best use rubber gloves. A number of people die every year from not taking the proper precautions.
Have Fun!


  1. Terrific idea! I was going to use those plastic solo cups (small ones) for my seedlings.. but these newspaper cups can probably be placed right into the garden.

    Question about staking -- what do you use to support your tomato plants? I have tried everything -- metal cages, bamboo.. everything is either too flimsy or too expensive. Found another product that I just ordered from Thoughts?

  2. Thanks for the instructions.
    I'm a real newbie when it comes to gardening so my first question is: Is it better to start my seeds in these pots, or a whole bunch in the plastic shoe boxes and then transplant? Or is the real question, how many plants am I willing to take care of and have room to plant outside?

  3. I usually plant in trays ( a shoebox is a good incubator too - as long as a little air can enter). Then when the plants emerge with their false leaves (cotyledons)and then start putting out their first true leaves, I transplant them into pots.Since a good rate of sprouting of seeds is 70%, a few pots probably won't sprout in any case. If you planted 100 pots, probably about 20 would be duds. Is that OK? You take you choices...
    Thanks for writing!

  4. Look on the right of this page at the Article Listing. Click on Tomato Stake Extension.
    I get a 6 foot Cedar Fence board. Rip it into 3/4 inch strips, stain them green with green paint thinned with paint thinner after pointing one end. And I have about 7 nice stakes to pound in about 1 foot. I put these in as soon as the tomato is about 1 foot. And after placing a tomato tower or cage. Tie the main limbs loosle to the stick. Works Great. Looks Great. And should last several seasons!

  5. Great info! This saves money since if I use newspaper I won't have to buy little peat pots anymore. :D Nice info about the cheap tomato stakes, too - I was trying to figure out something cheap and easy for tomatoes, peas and cukes. By the way, I've switched to just using perlite for potted plants - works swell for both seedlings and plants, as long as you feed them of course.


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