Garden of Eatin' / How-To / Seeds & Seedlings

How to Make Recycled Newspaper Pots for Seed Starting

Recycled newspaper pots for seed starting

Seed starting doesn’t always mean going out and spending money on all those nifty peat pellets and peat pots and plug trays. Often times, you can use what you already have in your house.

This is a good and simple weekend project to use up all those newspapers you’ve already read, or if you’re like me, the Sunday sections you’ll never read. I cranked out 40 of these newspaper pots in an hour in front of the TV one night!

You only need three basic materials: newspapers, scissors, and a small can. For seedlings, I find that a six-ounce can (the kind that tomato paste usually comes in) is the perfect size. A soda can also works well, or even a drinking glass.

Grab two pages of newspaper (so you have a four-sheet stack). Cut them into thirds lengthwise.

Cut newspaper into thirds lengthwise

Place your can on the newspaper and leave about an inch hanging off the end. Roll the can along the newspaper until it’s loosely wrapped all the way around. (Loose being key for easy removal of the can later.)

Roll newspaper around can

Fold the edge of the newspaper down over the can, and work your way around until all the edges are folded over firmly. They don’t have to be perfect; you can just smash the paper down with your fingers. It’s also fine if there is a small hole where the folds meet in the middle — that just provides extra drainage.

Flip the can right side up. I like to press the can down on the folds to really crease the edges against the bottom of the can.

Fold down edges of newspaper over can

Slide the can out and you’ve got a thrifty and biodegradable seedling pot! Don’t worry if it seems like the pot is flimsy or unraveling, especially at the bottom. Once filled with seed starting mix and moistened, the pot is surprisingly sturdy and holds it shape well.

Finished recycled newspaper pots

The benefit to making recycled newspaper pots is that you can transplant your seedlings right into the garden, pot and all, and the newspaper will decompose naturally in the soil. Or, simply unwrap the pot before you transplant the seedlings. Since you don’t have to dig them out of a plastic container, you won’t disturb the young roots. You can then toss the used newspaper into your compost pile, or repurpose it as bedding for your vermicompost bin.

Finished recycled newspaper pots

See? That stack of aging newspapers in the garage can be good for your garden — in more than ways than one.

Linda Ly About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »