Young plants, like kids and puppies, want to grow. They need lots of cuddling and TLC. Like all youngins’, seedlings like a sense of permanence. For these babes, the least amount of transplanting, the better.
After a few trips back and forth to my local nursery, plastic seedling containers began it pile up in the back of the car. We generally bring the containers back to the nursery since our recycling center will not accept these plastic plant palettes. This led me searching for an eco-friendly way to nurture seedlings until they are ready to plant.
I came across a project that I had done with school children a few years ago. We created seed planting cups from newspaper. Why newspaper? While researching for the recent posts about the economics of kitchen gardens, and growing sustainable food within a limited space, I read about the champion of plant growing – composting. To learn more about using newspaper as a composting matter, I reread the chapter from the book, Fresh Food From Small Spaces. “Plants grow well in soil that has healthy amounts of organic matter mixed in…Compost can be made from any plant matter, including lawn clippings, tree leaves, food scraps, newspaper, and/or manure from animals that have eaten plants (such as cows, horses, sheep, rabbits, and worms).”
These DIY planting cups allow for easy transplanting. The soy-based ink newspaper becomes biodegradable compost. One website about soy explained why it’s used in today’s newspaper industry. “Today, one-third of America’s nearly 10,000 newspaper printers use it. More than 90% of the nation’s daily newspapers are printed with color soy ink. Most newspapers use soy ink for color printing because its price is comparable with that of conventional color ink and it has many advantages: its superior performance, its environmental friendliness and its vibrant colors. Black soy ink is about 25% more expensive than petroleum based inks but some printers report that they need less ink for more papers.”
What you need to make four planting cups:
What to do:
1. Cut four sheets of newspaper into a 7” square. I used the NY Times which uses soy-based inks.
2. Fold in thirds, then turn and fold in thirds to make 9 square folds.
3. Angle-fold the corners on each side.
4. Staple the corner points to the side of the box. I tried both a stapleless stapler and regular staples. Both stapled through the layers of newspaper.
5. When the seedlings are ready to plant, insert the whole cup into the ground. The newspaper cups will break down without disturbing the plant’s roots.
Don’t forget to give your seedlings these key natural elements:
• Room to grow
Learn more about why composting is the natural recycling option for gardens here . I like the handy inexpensive Green Guides, from Chelsea Green Publishing for easy reference. The Composting Green Guide shares a link to the U.S. Composting Council with new ideas about organic recycling and composting.