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Spring is in the air

Spring Wet Plants

If spring isn't in the air where you are, it is in our garage. I'll explain in a post that's not typical for this blog. If you persist to the end of the post, you'll be rewarded with some of my usual humor, though it is also sprinkled throughout. 🙂

For many years I have started seedlings in our garage on a shelf in a window that faces south. Last gardening season I ran across a tool I had heard of, but had never seen. It's called Secrets du potager — Paper Pot Maker, by Esschert Design USA. Here's the picture from amazon.com

Paper Pot Maker

Every year, in true pack rat fashion, I have saved the little plastic pots in which I have bought seedlings for our garden. My usual spring routine is to get out some in the best condition and soak them in bleach water to kill any pathogens that might infect the young seedlings. After allowing them to dry, I fill them with potting soil and plant the seeds in them. Once the seedlings are planted out in the garden later in the spring, I toss the plastic pots in a tub and store them till the next year's planting.

I liked the idea of the paper pots. No more bleach water ritual. It would put to use some of the newspaper that has piled up in our garage. And the paper pots would also make planting easier and less disruptive to the tender roots of the seedlings. In the past some of my seedlings have been rather small and have gotten a bit battered in the planting process. With the paper pots you just put the whole thing into the hole, and the paper will rot in the ground and even provide at least a tiny bit of organic material. (EDITORIAL COMMENT: In regards to that, see the comments to this post — some info I didn't know when I wrote this post.)

Here's a picture of the supplies I used to make our paper pots. In the upper left you can see the first 4 pots I made this year.

Pot Supplies

In the picture above you can see the template I made out of some scrap cardboard. This made it easier and quicker because I could draw the lines around the template and then cut out the pieces of paper — usually 4 to 8 pages thick at a time. Because the directions that come with the tool are not terribly detailed (in 7 different languages!), I did some web searching for ideas. On one site the person suggested folding down the upper edge of what would eventually be the pot to make that part more stable. Here's what that looks like.

Pot Step 1

Here's a picture I found online of one person's pot still in the press.

Shorter Pot

I wanted my pots a little taller than that and so I positioned my paper slightly higher up on the upper part of the press.

Pot Step 2

Because of those two adjustments, I added a half an inch to my original template.

I rolled the paper around the press, making sure it wasn't too snug. If it's too tight, it's really hard to get the finished pot off the press. One site suggested adding a spot of glue stick to hold the uppermost part of the pot closed.

Here's that step.

Pot Step 3

The next step is to fold the bottom edges under the press. The first piece that I folded under was the seam to make sure that the pot holds together better. Here's what it looks like after my folding.

Pot Step 5

The next step is to crimp those folded pieces by putting the two parts of the press together and pressing firmly. Here's what it looks like once that is done.

Pot Step 7

Here's a picture of the top of the lower part of the press (left) and the bottom of the upper part of the press (right). That's what yields that firm crimping effect.

Pot Making Tool

After making the pots and filling them with potting soil, the final step is to read to your grandchildren from a seed catalog.

Reading Seed Catalog

If you don't have grandchildren, there would probably be some nearby that you could borrow for such purposes.



Here's a picture of my tomato seedlings that have been happily germinating and growing in their sunny window for the past couple of weeks.


Some of you, especially if you live further north, could give try this out. I'd love to hear if you do, and I will try to remember to give an update on how the paper pots work for me.

Now for those who have persisted in hopes, here are a couple bits of gardening-related humor.

Planting Order

That one is particularly for gardeners who are CDO.

Since we recently changed our time here in the USA, this next one will be significance to Americans.

Daylight Saving Thyme

I even have another funny sign for this post.

Losing Impatiens

In our garden the radishes and turnips have already germinated, and we're waiting for the beets to appear. The blueberries will be blooming in a week or two, and green shoots are starting to appear on the blackberries and raspberries. Do you have any gardening plans in the works for this year?


"The heart is known by how the tongue wags." — Ann Voskamp


Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.

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4 Comments on “Spring is in the air”

  1. #1 Jonathan
    on Mar 18th, 2015 at 7:17 am

    Peat pots, rice pots, compost pots & newspaper pots are great in theory. They work if you use them like plastic pots. These decomposing materials do not decompose quickly enough and stunt young plants roots. You can avoid this simply by taking material off root ball when planting. I’ve gone back to plastic. Although I do have some peat pots I bought on sale.

  2. #2 Vikki
    on Mar 18th, 2015 at 7:45 am

    I’ve seen paper pots used before but haven’t tried them myself. However, I’ve never seen a press to make them with. People just roll the paper around something the size they wanted, like a small juice can, and slap a piece of tape on it. The problem is that they become so fragile by the time they’re ready to plant that people were afraid to pick them up. I think crimping the paper on the bottom should help that. I look forward to hearing how it turns out for you, because I too save those seedling pots to use for my seeds and do the bleach routine.

  3. #3 Rob
    on Mar 18th, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Thanks for that info, Jonathan. In your line of work you would know that. I will probably make several long slits in the paper pots before planting.

  4. #4 Ray
    on Mar 19th, 2015 at 7:34 am

    My dad would get the seedling tomato plants in the plastic sets, then remove them and put a strip of newspaper at the base of the stem to ward off the cut worms. the rest of the plant was pretty much pest resistant.

    On another note, it was 12 deg. (above zero – we had many below zero this year) this morning on my car thermometer. Thank goodness Spring is only one day away… with snow in the forecast.