Activity: Make Your Own Newspaper Pots

Activity: Make Your Own Newspaper Pots
Photo Courtesy: Shannon Gray, FoodCorps Service Member at North Powder Charter School

If you plan on having a garden this year, right now is the time to start seeds for transplanting. A great activity to do with your kids is to make your own plant pots out of newspapers to grow seeds in. It’s a fun, easy way to up-cycle newspaper, and plants thrive in the DIY pots. When the plant start is ready to move outside, simply plant the pot right into the soil. No need to disturb roots.  

Here is what you need to get growing in your own newspaper pots.
-       Newspapers
-       Scissors
-       An empty container about 3 inches diameter. Jam jars work.
-       Soil
-       Tray to set pots on
-       Seeds
-       Water
-       String
1.     Cut strips of newspaper 6 inches wide and at least 12 inches long. Newspaper is great because it decomposes quickly, but you can use other types of paper, such as grocery store bags. The thicker the paper is, the longer it will take for it to decompose in the ground.
2.     Lay a strip of paper on your working surface. A table or hard floor works great.
3.     Place the jar on its side with the opening of the jar three inches in from the edge of the paper running lengthwise. The top of the jar will actually be where you form the paper for the bottom of the pot.
4.     Wrap the newspaper tightly around as you roll the jar.
5.     Fold the newspaper into the open end of the jar to close off the bottom of the pot.
6.     Remove the jar and the pot should hold. It might take a couple of tries to get the technique, but once they get the hang of it, kids love to do this themselves.
7.     Immediately fill with potting soil and place on a tray that you will use to keep the starts on until they are ready to go outside. Ask your local garden center for the right type of soil mix for starting the type of seeds you are growing.
8.     Plant seeds according to directions on packet. Tomatoes and peppers are ideal to get growing now.
9.     Water gently, so that the paper does not get too wet and fall apart before it’s time to plant outdoors. A spritz bottle works great for slowly delivering the right amount of water, and kids like the responsibility of this on-going task.
10.You can loosely tie several pots together to help them hold their shape. 
That is all there is to making the newspaper pots. Many vegetables seeds take between 7-14 days to germinate. To care for the seeds as they sprout, simply keep the soil moist, but not too wet.
Before transplanting seedlings outside you need to harden them off. For a few days before you plant them outside, slowly introduce the seedlings to the outside elements. In the morning, place them in a sheltered location with dabbled sunlight. Bring them back indoors the evening. When there are at least two true leaves on the seedlings, you can transplant them outdoors. Water in newly planting seedlings with a liquid fertilizer to reduce transplanting shock.  
Your kids will be thrilled to enjoy the harvest from plants they grew, in pots they made. For more information on what you can be doing in your garden in May, check out Oregon State University’s Garden Calendar.