You can make pots for veggie starts out of newspaper instead of using plastic pots, or peat pots. One of the biggest advantages of paper over plastic is that newspaper pots can be put directly into the ground, so there is much less disturbance to the plant. This makes newspaper pots especially appropriate for squash plants, as they are especially adverse to having their roots disturbed. This year, I’m doing all our squash starts in newspaper pots. FYI: by “squash” I mean all of the summer annuals in the Squash Family: winter squash, summer squash, pumpkins, cukes, zukes, gourds, watermelons, cantaloupes, etc.
What you’ll need:
- a soup can or jar of similar size
- nursery trays, or something that can fill that function
Any size newspaper will do. For a typical daily or weekly paper, you can tear each large sheet in half.
Fold the newspaper in half the long way. Wrap the paper around the can, tightly enough to hold the shape in place, but not so tight that you can’t slip the can out when you’re done.
About two inches of paper should go past the can on one end, which is the end that will be folded over for the bottom of the pot. This project works best if the crease is the top of the pot.
Fold over the newspaper down over the bottom of the can. This works best if you start by folding down the section where the newspaper ends. Four folds altogether should close the bottom.
The trickiest part is slipping the can out without the pot falling apart. This will take a little practice, and you’ll soon find the best way to hold it in place. Then, fill the pot with soil, which helps it stay together, actually. (RELATED POST: “How to make your own potting mix for vegetable starts”)
Place the filled pot in a nursery tray, or whatever you’re using. Newspaper pots stay intact in part by being bunched up with their neighbors, so you’ll want to fill the tray in a way that isn’t leaving room around the sides.
These pots definitely don’t last forever. The more they are watered, the more they degrade. So they’re only practical for starts that will be transplanted into the ground within a few weeks, maybe a month or so. Pro-tip: let the paper dry out before transplanting day, so they’re easier to extract from the tray without falling apart. You can put these pots directly in the ground, or tear the bottom off first, which is pretty easy to do without disturbing the roots too much.
I made over 100 of these pots this year for Eloheh Farm’s various squash crops.