Being Frugal & Green By Planting Seeds In Newspaper Pots

seedlings in newspaper pot

My thoughts have been swirling around this summer’s vegetable garden. For the past several years, we’ve purchased plants that need an extra jump on the growing season-like tomatoes and peppers.

Since money is tight this year-I decided to go back to germinating seeds indoors in an effort to save money. I’ve started seeds in all sorts of plastic containers before-and even tried the egg shell method one year. I liked the egg shell-because you could plant it directly in the ground without disturbing the roots of the plant-but an egg shell is so tiny, most plants out grow it before warm weather arrives. I’ve also used peat pots to start plants in-they worked well-but can be expensive if you’re planting a large quantity of seeds.

After doing some research online, I discovered many folks use newspaper to make seed pots. I immediately liked the idea. Using newspaper is inexpensive or even free if you can get donated newspaper. The method is green for the environment-newspaper is biodegradable. And the ease of planting the whole pot is attractive to me.

As I wandered the web, I found origami newspaper pots-which I figured out real fast were too complicated for me-I also found pots that used glue or tape in the construction-for me that kinda canceled out the green factor.

I played around with the original idea and came up with a method that worked for me. You need:  a paste made from flour and water, newspaper, scissors, and a drinking glass or something to mold the paper around.

newspaper pots

A word of advice that showed up on all the sites I visited-only use black and white newspaper-no colored pages.

~First-take a long strip of newspaper and wrap it around the bottom end of the glass-leaving enough above the bottom of the glass to fold over. (I folded one sheet of newspaper in half twice (lengthwise) and trimmed about 4 inches off one end. This part I just played around with until I got it to the right thickness-the first one I did was so bulky the paste wouldn’t hold it-but you do want it thick enough to hold the plant.)

~Using a paste made from flour and water-paste the edge down

~Fold the edges down over the bottom of the glass like you’re wrapping a present-I snipped some slits in the sides to make it easier to fold. Then use the paste to secure the paper.

~Allow the pots to sit until the paste has dried. I used several sizes of glasses and jars-so I could pick and choose for each seed’s need.

A few more tips:  ~keeping the pots in a tray helps support them-since they are kinda fragile ~you can water from the bottom-the paper will act as a wick-but don’t let them sit in water or the paper will dissolve ~if they are too wet when you plant them-the pot will fall apart in your hands ~if they are too dry when you plant them-the dirt will crumble out the top.

If you give the pots a try-I hope they work out for you-I hope they work out for me too.

Do you start all your plants from seed? If you do-what method to you use? If you don’t garden-what method did your parents or grandparents use?


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    February 19, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I love this idea and will try it someday–when I have a house that has a sunny spot for such things. I have never started tomatoes or peppers from seed because it has to be done now at the latest, and I’ve never had a place to look after them. But I have always wanted to. I’m itching for garden weather!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Great idea Tipper. I have seen this before and often wondered if it worked well. Perhaps I will try it this year.

  • Reply
    Christy Harrill
    February 12, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    This is too neat! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    February 11, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    I usually buy a few market packs from my neighbor’s greenhouse. I wash them out in a 10% bleach solution and use them year after year. I also use newspaper for mulch. I won’t start any seeds here much before March 1st as we don’t plant until the end of May.

  • Reply
    Cheryle Hoover Davis
    February 11, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Wow! A GREAT idea! I have to get seeds started indoors (mountain climate), so am always looking for better ways to do so. I used peat pots last year, but they are expensive!
    This year, I will use the newspaper pots. I save all my papers and have a big stack, so I shouldn’t run out of little seed pots!
    Thanks for this great idea!!

  • Reply
    February 11, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Good luck with the early planting. We sometimes start things with seeds. Around here you have to wait till the middle of May to put plants out because of fear of frost. Right now that seems like a long ways off.

  • Reply
    February 11, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Delightful Green idea, Tipper. I hope more folks think of green ways to plant and help our planet. If I were to plant a garden, I’d certainly try the newspaper pots. Biodegradable! Good.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    February 10, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Tipper, you do the neatest stuff. I swore I wasn’t ever going to try starting seeds for garden plants, not ever again. But here I am, eager to try your designs for a dirt cheap greenhouse.
    I quit seeding indoors when I realized that a packet of seeds usually has anywhere from twenty-five to fifty seeds in it and I never could throw anything like seeds away so I would always end up planting everything in every packet I had. This is how crazy it got: I had one-hundred and two (102!!!) tomato plants one year.. Do I hear “Insane”? I had twenty-four okra plants one year !!??!! Does anyone know how much okra that makes? I must need more therapy than what comes out of a garden.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    This is a great idea. Reminds me of making pinatas. I tried the egg shell thing once, too. Didn’t last too long for the reasons you identy.
    Thanks, friend.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    what a great idea! i tried peat pellets last year and wasnt that happy plus they are expensive. i like the whole green idea with the paper pots. and they are big enough for the plant to grow.
    my gramps always had the most amazing garden, i just wish i had paid more attention. i was only interested when it was time to pick the veggies off the vine and pop in my mouth. since i had two sister plus my mother, my poor gramps had to have a pretty big garden for him and nan.

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    February 10, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    The newspaper planting pots is a splendid idea. I was thinking the other day about stating some plants indoors. This handy tip comes just at the right time. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    February 10, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Living in an apartment I don’t have any dirt to plant in, but my friend Roxanne does. She always has the most beautiful gardens every year. She starts her seeds in whatever is available, but I will definitely tell her about your newspaper pot idea. I’m sure she’ll love it. Thanks for sharing this great post. xxoo

  • Reply
    Nancy Simpson
    February 10, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Tipper, the Newspaper pots is a good green idea. I will try it. I like how the little pots can be placed directly in the ground at planting time.
    In one of the landscaping classes I took at
    John C. Campbell Folk School, the insrructor Tim Ryan told us to place a thick layer of newspapers under our mulch. I do it in my beds and on mulch paths. It cuts back on weeds.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2009 at 11:41 am

    This is such a great idea. I”m doing it!! I hate spending the money on all those little seed pots ..which is why I never do..
    Love it

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    February 10, 2009 at 10:24 am

    that is a good idea. My dh starts tomatoes and peppers in the house, too. I’m still praying about a garden spot.
    Hope you have a good day.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2009 at 9:57 am

    We always start from seeds. We save yogurt cups and start in them. We save them year to year so this is no real waste from it. I love starting from seeds because of the variety available!

  • Reply
    February 10, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Neat idea, I come from a family of farmers, but grew up in the suburbs so haven’t had much personal experience except in my dreams. This Friday I start classes offered by our local extension office so here’s to new beginnings and hopefully one day, full productive gardens.
    This is an awesome site, thanks for visiting mine

  • Reply
    fishing guy
    February 10, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Tipper: That looks like a fun project, the tomatoed should be even better since you started them from seed.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 10, 2009 at 8:26 am

    What a great idea! My mother used to grow tomatoes and she would start the plants early. She used either paper or Styrofoam cups. The latter is about as far as you can get from green!
    I don’t garden but I haven’t forgotten that tomatoes fresh from the garden are one of the finest things in life.
    You’ll have to keep us posted on how the paper pots work out.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2009 at 7:52 am

    I have seen those before and thought they were the neatest things. I don’t know why more people don’t use them. Then there are people like me, who would use them and then nothing would grow. LOL

  • Reply
    February 10, 2009 at 5:52 am

    what a great idea! we are discussing our plantings here, even more since we have been offered an allottment! so have lots to do~i shall ask my mum to keep her papers for me!

  • Reply
    February 9, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    That’s a neat idea, Tipper. Last year, Suzanne, at Chickens in the Road, showed how to make them out of empty toilet paper tubes.

  • Reply
    Amy @ parkcitygirl
    February 10, 2009 at 12:50 am

    Great little pots! I have planted seeds inside in the past, but I have a 4X12′ raised bed that doesn’t hold too much – so the dirt pellets have worked good for me – except they have outgrown them before warm comes. . . I’ve learned (the hard way) I can’t plant anything outdoors before Father’s Day. These days I’m out of space to germinate indoors 🙁 I mostly plant lettuce and carrots – stuff that doesn’t get hurt if it frosts in July 🙂

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    February 9, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    All of my grandparents had green, green thumbs. They all could make rocks grow if they had wanted to do so.
    (My paternal grandmother planted by the “signs.”)
    For the life of me, though, I can’t remember how they started their gardens. That’s something to ask my mother. Thanks for the jog to my memory…I want to remember as much as I can about their lives.

  • Reply
    Julie at Elisharose
    February 9, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Oh, my. That is so clever. I have never seen such a thing. The kids would love this.
    We have such a long growing season here that we almost never have to start the seeds early. Depending on my mood and when I get started, I have planted both from seed and from plants. We have such a small garden that it doesn’t amount to much either way.

  • Reply
    February 9, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Good luck with the newspaper pots. I’ve used them before, but prefer to save my egg cartons all winter and then make pots out of them. The other thing I do is keep all of my pots that plants come in when I am planting in the spring. I often buy little plants such as pansies and those pots work great for starting seed. Just another idea. Thanks for sharing.
    Going now to read about your quilts.
    Blessings for a great week.

  • Reply
    February 9, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    We are on the same wave length again. I was thinking, since I’m not working right now, about starting my plants from seed this year.
    But I always keep the seed trays when I buy plants. So I’ll be reusing them.
    Good luck with your newspaper pots!

  • Reply
    February 9, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    I have done this before and HATED it! So much work!!! You are so much better than I am!!!! 🙂
    Why haven’t you won a contest or giveaway??? Sakes! By all means, we should run another one and have it “fixed.” Here I thought you’d gotten some homemade soap!

  • Reply
    February 9, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Darn it! Those look easy. I am commited to (what I just learned the name of) TP cob pots this year. I tried saving seeds last year, but i have purchased some for back ups!
    We planted broccoli , english peas and onions today. I am not sure about the onions, but what the hey, I call it a learning curve.
    Tomorrow I will fold more cobs…..
    built a strange cold frame, too, it’s an experiment… But it is supposed to be 76 tomorrow, hmmmmm
    not sure I’ll need it.

  • Reply
    Megan ANdrews
    February 9, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    I love your blog. I am on a mission to become more green all while living on a large cattle ranch. This will be so helpful

  • Reply
    February 9, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Tipper, what a great idea! We have lots of newspaper (which I usually recycle). I’m definitely going to try this. One year I used toilet paper and paper towel tubes. Kind of limiting as to size. The newspaper idea is so much better. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Helen G.
    February 9, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Besides newspaper pots,I have also used the “cobs” out of toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls. On the t.p. “cobs” if you cut them in half and then cut enough to fold a bottom on them the make a nice little starter pot. Paper towel “cobs” you can get about 4 little pots. I have also used newspapers as mulch on newer beds to try to block grass. If you lay a thickness of about 6 or 8 pages out it will block out the grass pretty good and eventually the paper breaks down and can be turned back into the soil. I used this on our “tree nursery area” and as long as I kept the grass pulled up out of the hole I cut to plant the baby trees, it worked well.

  • Leave a Reply