Appalachia Gardening

Make Your Own Seed Pots – From Newspaper

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 well 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. Since the newspaper is biodegradable, you can plant the whole pot, which 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.

newspaper pots


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.

All the sites I visited said to 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 the 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 used 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. Fill the dried pots with your choice of planting soil and you’re ready to go.

seedlings in newspaper pot
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?


In 2009 when I made the newspaper pots-they really worked out great. Last year I just couldn’t find the time to do them again-and used my usual array of plastic containers. I’m hoping to get a least a few newspaper pots made this year-it is nice to be able to plant the entire thing instead of pulling the fragile plant out of the container.


This post was originally published on February 9, 2009 here on the Blind Pig.


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  • Reply
    February 9, 2011 at 8:56 am

    This year will be my very first garden at our new homestead. I’ve been saving small yogurt pots and such for seedlings, but the newspaper pots are a much better idea. The flour and water glue reminds me of when I was a kid 🙂

  • Reply
    February 5, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I took your advice and made my own plant cups last year and it worked great. I’ll be using this idea this year, too.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    February 4, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    One way I use newspaper is for preserving tomatoes. The idea isn’t a new thing; maybe it’s common knowledge. There must be many things I’ve forgotten that you haven’t. I’m still allowed to drive a car.
    When summer’s over and there are still tomatoes on my vines I refuse to let them get frozen, out there, calling me even at night, until I go out in a remaining warm afternoon and gather all of them in.
    It’s about that newspaper you talk about: I wrap the goodly-sized green tomatoes individually, in newspaper, kind of looks like just a wad of paper, but I wrap them all and put them in a pasteboard box and put them away in the dark and they mostly stay firm and slowly ripen. Some decay. We had these tomatoes until mid-January, having used them up along the way.
    I fried some of the still-green tomatoes in December.
    The very little green ones we had chopped up and used in chow-chow and piccalily.
    My name was in one of the papers I unwadded. In our town they publish names of speeders and miscreants. I had long ago paid the fine; I didn’t need to be reminded.

  • Reply
    Bill Dotson
    February 4, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Tipper do you have an archive of you previous posts, Thanks

  • Reply
    Bill Dotson
    February 4, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Tipper, thanks for all the info and pictures for making the pots will try to make some of those, right now I start a few in styrofoam recycled trays from the tobacco plant process in a float bed, I put an old recycled waterbed heater under the water with black plastic between them and set my float box full of water in the window of my garage, won’t have to turn on my heat system too early that way. The paste you are talking about is what Mom made for wall paper, she would always like to change some of the wall paper when we moved into a different farm house because we share cropped and moved every few years.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Such a great way to repurpose newspaper and start your own seeds. Glad you reposted.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    February 4, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Tipper, I buy flowers for my beds in small plastic pots. I recycle the pots for starting seeds.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 4, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    tipper, it reminds me of art class in school……a long time ago. Paper and flour/water glue. lol
    My mother used to use styrofoam cups and when she was ready to plant she just tore the cup off.
    Your way seems so much better. I think styrofoam is really bad.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I’ve seen the expensive newspaper pot “form” made of wood in the nursery magazines — your glass idea is awesome. Great way to use up the newspaper as well, instead of throwing it away. 🙂

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Every time I read your blogs there’s something new to swallow.
    And the flour glue is a great idea
    and its ‘green’ too. I’ve never
    grown anything much from seeds,
    except corn and white runners but
    heirloom tomatoes would be nice to
    watch as they develop…Ken

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    I always think I want to try the newspaper pots, but then I get right up against the time to get things started and I cave and go get the peatpots, but at seven cents a piece and wholesale only a slight bit better, they soon become expensive. I think I will make a day for newspaper pots, like on a full, new, or quarted day when we’re not supposed to do any plant sort of thing! Again, thanks for the inspiration.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Excellent idea. I will share with my granddaughters. They have plenty of time as they are in Idaho. They like to see green in the frozen months.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Tipper, I have made these in the past. I remember using a short tomato sauce can, and I had a drinking glass that was a tad smaller than the can. I wrapped the paper around the glass, just like you do, then pressed the whole thing into the can. It formed th bottom very well, and I did not have to use glue/tape. When it came time to pull up the tomatoes, the paper pot was still intact, except for the bottom. Lol

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Paper cups are pretty cheap & also degrade–bottoms were mostly gone by planting time. You can tear the cup easily if you wish but i just planted cup & all. I don’t know if the colors might be harmful–so far we’re still alive!!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    February 4, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Tipper–Another fine example of “make do.” I would add two newspaper related tips: (1) Newspaper makes a fine weed-proofing mulch. Just lay sheets along rows and cover with dirt. It will decompose by the end of a gardening season. (2) For pots (or mulch) do not use newsprint with color in it. The inks used for color can contain toxins.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    February 4, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Good morning,Tipper.I tried your idea last year and it was the way we decided to do this year-and it gives the grandkids something to do also. I let them look at ‘Blind Pig’ also, as part of their schooling.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 7:07 am

    great idea, i will share this with hubby, he is the seed grower here. we don’t get the paper but i am sure the neighbors would love to share theirs. let us know how this works out. i like the recycle part of it to

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    February 4, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Great idea using flour glue…I have made these but used a bit of paper masking tape to hold…
    What I do for small pots…use toilet paper tubes..cut in half..
    cut four slits from top down long enough so it will cross..then just do the cardboard box lock fold..over under lift lock…
    I have used towel tubes and paper roll tubes…but we have so many old newspapers that is a great way to get rid of them and easier to make bigger sizes…
    Thanks Tipper, someone is wishing for Spring and the outdoors just like your daughter!

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