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Friday, March 07, 2008

Make your own Pots (easy as can bee)

Exactly one week ago I planted my peat pellets. I had brought them into my gardening class along with some seeds. We talked about the importance of reading the back of the seed packages. It's amazing what you'll learn if you actually read everything on the back.

I planted Swiss chard 'Bright Lights', Ruby Queen hybrid corn and Bi-licious Hybrid corn. By day two I had a problem, fuzzy mold growing on the tops of the peat pellets, oops, too much water!

I removed the clear top that came with the tray and the mold stopped growing although it seems to be inhibiting some seeds. By day 3 I saw germination on the Ruby corn.

Uh oh, last night after class I noticed that the roots of the corn were already coming out of those little peat pellets. Just think about all those kiddie seed kits they sell and this is about how big those pots are. Better do something quick!

Out came the newspaper. Lately it's been filled with so much fertilizer that I have full confidence it will do a great job feeding my babies.

Fold your newspaper in half (don't worry if the fertilizing posts are facing outwards)

Take a jar, a can, or something of this size that's round and clean.

Roll the jar along, bringing the newspaper around. Don't roll too tight or you won't be able to slip the jar out later.

See the bottom of the jar still inside?

Fold one flap of paper down on the bottom.

Fold a second flap down and squish it hard.

Fold the last piece down and hold it in place for a second. Smooth the bottom as flat as you can.

Slid the jar out of your paper and holding the folded bottom against your belly (I knew it would come in handy some day) fold a collar down on the open top piece. It doesn't fold flat and pretty but it folds enough to hold the circle together.

Fill with potting soil. My paper was strong enough to scoop right into a bag of potting soil and then I added some more by hand. Sorry, my hands were too dirty to photograph that step.

Put your filled pots into a water proof container. My daughter had used this aluminum pan at school for a demonstration but it still has a purpose.

Now take your seedling and plant it. Uh Oh! Some of these babies have roots that grew right into the next peat pellet! Hope I didn't break any off.

Here's the finished project. Nice corn babies planted in recycled newspaper pots. I feel so proud that I'm going to sit down and have a treat. Guess what it is?

P.S. I wanted to add the link to the site where I originally read about these newspaper pots. I saw it at The Cheap Vegetable Gardener and it's not the only good tip I've picked up at his site. Right now he's writing about worm bins and earlier this month he wrote an awesome post on making your own soil sifter.


Rosehaven Cottage said...

How ingenious! I never would have thought of using newspaper. Now when I run out of reusable pots from the store, I know what to do.

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Anonymous said...

I'm going to do this next year. Right now, I don't have anywhere to put them. I use to grow corn in my class to show the kids how roots will grow. We were studying if leaves would come up as a single stalk or two leaves too. You do excellent demonstrations!! Love to come see what you are up to.

Sue Swift said...

Super, super idea. And I love the idea of the built-in fertiliser :)

Ross said...

Do you think it would hold together with regular loamy soil, or does the peat pellet enable it to hold its shape?

Ross Nevette said...

Do you think this would work with regular loamy soil, or is it the peat pellet that keeps it together?

GardenJoy4Me said...

Melanie ... I think your posts need owner approval ... right ? .. just keeps this one for your info then ?

I think you get my drift ? LOL
Sorry about all those messages yesterday ... I think I am going full force WINTER CRAZY

Melanie said...

Cindy, I have a shed full of reusable pots but I just had to give this a try after I read it on another blog.

Anna, I had no idea the roots would get that long! You have enough on your plate right now. Besides, you could probably plant seeds right outdoors after if move if you want to.

Sue, at first I didn't want to use certain pages because of the headlines and then I thought...what the heck, they'll just be compost.

Ross, I definitely think it would hold together with regular soil or any other soil for that matter. What you have to remember though is that these pots are going to be breaking down from the moment you fill them with damp soil. The bottoms will open up and dump everything out if you just pick them up carelessly. But that's the whole idea, they will be easy to break down once in the garden.

The blog I read said to take the whole tray to the garden and very gently lift the individual plants out when you are ready to plant.

Joy! I only see first names and the first few words on my moderator. If I recognize people I hit the approval key. If I'm not sure I have to go to my e-mail program to check the whole message (which obviously I didn't do today). I'm still working on fixing everybody be nice.

Connie said...

These are certainly economical, but I find they dry out very quickly because of the porous nature of the paper. Maybe using a capillary mat would help that.

Gail said...

This is very helpful and our newspaper will provide lots of fertilizer, too;-)


Frances, said...

Melanie, great idea. I have seen this before but never with that detailed an explanation of how it holds together. Especially have never seen using the old belly! HA. Thanks for helping me get through the day today. It won't be forgotten.

Frances at Faire Garden

Dave said...

Good information! It's a great way to recycle newspaper. I'll start doing that once I run out of my leftover pots, old yogurt containers, and paper towel/TP rolls. What's great is that those pots are biodegradable.

Melanie said...

Connie, thanks for letting me know they'd dry out quickly. I put a large filled watering can down by my seedling table so I can remember to water them often.

Gail, there's so much fertilizer I think they'll look like jack's beanstalk!

Frances, when you've got a belly, you learn to use it for useful things like holding up your laptop and such :-)

Dave, old yogurt containers were always popular here too but I'm really looking forward to something that can go right into the ground and biodegrade.

Marie said...

What a good idea! Very interesting post!

Nancy J. Bond said...

What a great idea -- and recycling to boot! Thanks!

Anna said...

I think I might sew some sunflowers this year. I'll get a few beds ready but there is so much soil preparation that needs to be done. It's going to take me a long time to get it where I can go gung ho. We all know from trial and error and killing too many plants that we have to get good soil first. I'll be glad I did.

We had windy weather today. I bet some gusts were over 60 mph.

Ki said...

What a great way to recycle newpaper. I gave up trying to grow seeds in peat pots because the tiny plants grew too leggy despite placing them in front of a sliding glass door with southern exposure.

Anonymous said...

You can get rid of the mold by spraying the surface of the pellets with a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water. I've used the remedy for several years, and it does not seem to adversely affect germination or growth.

Teresa said...

Exactly the information I was looking for! Thank you for the great photos and clear explanations!