Why buy seed starting pots each season when you can make your own!
If you're like me and don't have newspaper delivery, it can be free if you ask a newspaper-receiving friend to give you some.
There are plenty of places where you can acquire them, too. Coffee houses, neighbors, airports, hotels...just about anywhere is a good place to find them.
Even if you have to buy a newspaper from a dispenser outside a restaurant it will still be cheaper than seed starting pots.
Besides, newspapers are good for lots of other things...starting firewood, lining pet cages, potty-training puppies, using them as tarps for small projects and craft jobs, shredding and adding to compost piles...
The uses for newspapers are endless.
For this seed pot project you'll need the inner pages of the paper that have the least amount of colored pictures or advertisements. You want black ink.
Most newspapers use harmless soy-based ink for black print. Although, I have made seed pots with some colored ink blocks, I try to look for the pages with the least amount of color.
Here's what you'll need:
Straight-sided bottles (to roll the pots)
Vitamin bottles work great as do straight-sided votive holders. Simply use bottles that are the diameters of the pots you want to make.
Use the side of the bottle to figure out how high/deep you want your finished pots to be plus enough to cover half the bottom of the bottle.
Cut the desired width, plus half the bottom, along the length of one or two sheets of newspaper.
Use the bottle to roll the strip. Tape the side with Scotch tape. Upend the bottle and fold the overage in three or four spots to meet at the center.
Tape the fold-overs with a strip or two of tape.
A variety of pot diameters may be made using straight-sided bottles or other items.
You'll need a water-proof tray of some type to set your seed pots on.
To start your seeds in your homemade pots, fill them with dampened, sterile seed starting mix.
A general rule is to plant seeds at a depth that is two to three times the size of the seed. A toothpick or tip of a lead pencil makes it easy to push small seeds to the proper depth.
I plant several seeds to a pot, spaced evenly apart.
Place your planted pots in waterproof trays.
Mist the soil surface lightly to water your newly planted seeds. Then, insert the tray into a plastic bag inflated with a puff of breath. Twist the bag end and secure with a twist tie.
This makes a dandy mini-greenhouse and keeps things moist for sprouting. Set your greenhouses under a grow light or in a sunny window and wait a week or two for things to sprout.
When the sprouts are half-inch to an inch tall, or reaching the top of the plastic bag, remove the bag.
With a small pair of scissors I snip at soil level all but the most robust sprout in each pot.
Watering by misting will insure that your tender, young sprouts are not mashed or flattened by a well-meant stream of water.
The nice thing about newspaper pots is that they soften sufficiently while in use so that you don't have to remove the plant from them before planting which reduces transplant shock.
The most I do is tear open the bottom when I plant them into the garden. The newspaper pots compost and fall apart in the garden (or when planted in pots or planters) as the plants grow additional roots.
A hint on sprouting tomato, pepper, or eggplant seeds is that they like warmth. I set their mini-greenhouses on an electric heating pad - the one I use when I have a sore back - set on low until they sprout. After sprouting I put the pad away.
When all danger of frost is past you can plant your seedlings out into the garden, into pots or planters, or give them as gifts.