Newbie newspaper pot questions...

topieFebruary 13, 2010

Hi everyone,

I'm planning to winter sow some annual sweet pea seeds in March, and some folks on here helpfully suggested sowing them in newspaper pots since they said the sweet pea seedlings don't like to be disturbed.

I've never made newspaper pots before and this is my first year winter sowing, so just had some questions:

1. Should I put the newspaper pots in a milk jug, and then put the milk jug outside? I've been fiddling around with making the newspaper pots, and discovered if I use one half sheet of a small size newspaper, it makes a pot that is small enough to fit two newspaper pots to a milk jug.

2. If I put my experimental newspaper pots in a milk jug, the jug seems kind of tippy without a full load of soil in it. Should I weigh the jug down with some small stones or gravel inside or something? There is room around the newspaper pots to add some small stones or gravel since the two newspaper pots don't quite fill up the whole milk jug.

3. Also, I only used one half of a sheet of a newspaper to make my newspaper pots, so the walls of the newspaper pots are only one sheet in thickness on two sides of the pot. Should I use a whole sheet of newspaper and fold the newspaper over to double the thickness of the walls of the newspaper pot? I'm concerned the single-sheet thickness pots may just totally disintegrate before they are ready to be planted out...

I used the "origami" newspaper pot method posted by sewobsessed to make my pots. Thank you!!!

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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

Flowerlady has instructions on her blogspot how to make the toilet paper pots and it's so easy. You make them from the cardboard toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls. Check her site out and look for the instructions. Might be easier than the newspaper pots.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 8:40PM
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That's definitely a thought...the problem is I've been sending our empty t.p. and paper towels rolls off to recycling and haven't saved any...I don't think we will be able to use enough t.p. and paper towels at our house for me to collect enough cardboard rolls before March! We do have TONS of old newspapers though, so I thought newspaper pots would be more realistic...I'll be sure and save the cardboard rolls though from now on...

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 11:07PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

1 thickness of newspaper is not enough to give you any support. Even 2 won't. The paper will disintegrate in no time leaving you with nothing. It'll be as if you had sown in the jug without it.
I make paper pots with a method **SIMILAR** to this.

I use a **spice jar**, though, not a commercial pot maker like the one in the photo. I just push the jar up a little bit then scrunch in the paper at the bottom. Presto!
I have been using this method for many years.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 2:08AM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

There! I finally found the link that I use for tutorials:
Newspaper pots tutorials.
It is much easier to make and much sturdier than the origami method, at least for WS.
I use only half a sheet of newspaper, though.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 2:35AM
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pitimpinai, thank you! I'm going to try making newspaper pots with that "rolling" method. Looks like I'll be able to fit way more newspaper pots into a milk jug if the pots are rolled like that, and more newspaper pots inside will keep the milk jug from being tippy. Plus I can sow more seeds!

Once I saw your photo I realized that rolling the newspaper pots is basically like creating your own tube, just like a t.p. roll or paper towel roll...sometimes I have to see things visually before I understand them.

I'm so excited about growing sweet peas for the first time. Thanks again!!!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 8:59AM
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austinnhanasmom(5 CO)

I have made newspaper pots by using a pvc pipe and wrapping the newspaper sheet around and around and around - using flour/water paste as glue. Pulling the newspaper tube off, allowing to dry and cutting to desired length/pot height with create a few from one tube.

Although I do love these newspaper pots, if they are stored next to one another, and wet, they'll eventually stick together. When you try to pull them apart, the pots could disintegrate. I've had this happen. If enough of the paper falls apart, you have quite a mess and will easily disrupt the plants that you were trying to protect.

Try to keep the pots from touching and the paper will readily dry between waterings.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 9:55AM
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OK, that's a good point, austinnhanasmom, thank you! I'm somehow picturing making a "sectional" milk jug using pieces of recycled flat plastic with grooves to hold the pieces of plastic in place, sort of like those plastic fishing tackle boxes with the little sections. If I can figure out how to construct one, I'll post a photo!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 10:16AM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

topie, your using something to hold the paper pots apart is a terrific idea. That should work very well.

May I suggest that you sow sweet peas no more than a week or two before planting time? Those seeds germinate fast, similar to dahlia, Morning Glory or cypress vines.

I gave up growing sweet peas long ago. Our spring weather heats up too fast those beauties get sunburn ....same as spring flowering bulbs and Oriental Poppies...sigh...
* *******
* ************

I usually fit 8 - 9 paper pots in a milk jug--- as tightly as I can.
I actually don't mind when paper pots stick together.
By the time the seedlings are big enough to transplant, the root ball is so robust that it holds the soil together.
Breaking the pots apart won't do them that much harm. That's the beauty of WS.
In fact, there are times when I even break apart the paper pots because the root ball is so dense I need to tease out the roots. Or I need to make a smaller chunk of seedlings. :-D

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 10:42AM
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austinnhanasmom(5 CO)


Most plants do recover from and appreciate the root teasing/disturbance, but some don't. (I've read that by "pruning" the big roots, the smaller feeder roots grow - creating a healthier overall root system. Experimenting with this in 2010.)

My WS lupines HATED me last year. I killed nearly every sprout. For that plant, I'll direct sow forever now. If a lupine seed can't handle direct sowing, it can thrive in someone else's garden:))

I still need to perfect the HOS planting.
Last year, I salvaged my jugs at the expense of the HOS.

Happy Gardening -

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 10:53AM
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Topie, I'm thinking you may be able to keep your pots from sticking together by wrapping a piece of wax paper around the finished pot. Or just placing a small piece between each pot instead of trying to make dividers. The wax paper will divide them. Just thinking out loud hear. Hmmm, maybe weave a long strip around the pots, kind of like an "S" shape. If you try it, let me know if it worked.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 3:13PM
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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

Check out She has a tuitorial on how to make the toilet paper roll pots. When her blogspot comes up, look to your right side and down the archives's list. She not only grows beautiful flowers but her beaded needlework is fantastic. Has a nice blogspot!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 6:24PM
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Thank you, conniejw, that is a great idea about the wax paper! Much easier than constructing plastic dividers for the milk jug.

Thank you also pippi21 for the flowerladysmusings web address. What a wonderful blog...I like the beadwork on there too! I've just started saving our paper towel and t.p. rolls so the tutorial will come in handy soon.

Tonight I made some newspaper pots with the "roll" method...used a narrow bottle of honey to roll the newspaper and it worked really well...the walls of the newspaper pot are definitely thicker this way, so I think the pots will not self-destruct.

Thanks again everyone!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 1:21AM
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