Honestly, if we are going to start seedlings, why wouldn’t we want to do it in little biodegradable pots? Seriously, if we use little biodegradable pots, we can just plant out our seedlings in the garden when they are ready. Finally, since we are using little biodegradable pots and we have all sorts of organic material in our everyday trash production, we ought to just make our own pots using that.
Starting seedlings like this are just way better. They can be planted out in the garden without having to remove them from their pots and disturb those fragile young roots. The pot will then decompose right in place, often attracting earthworms, which are always squirming around for a snack. As the pot weakens in the ground, the plant’s roots will be getting stronger and bust through the sides.
Even better, the plants get all of those benefits, and we haven’t created any waste in the meantime. In fact, we’ve creatively used our garbage for the forces of good. Check out these simple and effective options for DIY biodegradable pots.
1. The Newspaper Pot
Newspapers aren’t around quite as much as they used to be; however, there are still plenty of flyers, free journals, and other paper products that can be rolled into plant pots. Cut the paper into strips around four or five inches wide and roughly a foot long. Then, use an old beer bottle to roll up the newspaper into cylinders and fold the one end to make the bottom of the pot. Fill it with a fine potting mix, and there you go.
2. The Toilet Roll
Toilet rolls (or paper towel rolls) are even easier than newspapers, though it will require more time to collect enough for a full crop of stuff. Cut them in half (about three-inch sections) and then cut four equidistant one-inch slits in the bottom side of the roll. Fold the resulting tabs of paper as you would the top of a cardboard box. These are great for early spring planting because the toilet rolls can be saved throughout the winter.
3. Egg Carton Pots
Egg cartons aren’t exactly a common find in most plant-based households, but that isn’t to say we don’t have vegetarian friends and carnivorous neighbors. Check recycling bins or ask folks who might have them. Egg cartons are easy plant pots. Cut up the side where the eggs sit into individual little pots and use the lid as a carrying tray for them. The pots can then be planted right in the ground, and the top can be composted.
4. Paper Cups/Cones
We all sometimes forget our reusable water bottle, to-go mug, or find ourselves lingering around the office water cooler. Paper to-go cups and water cooler cones make excellent seedling starters. In the case of cups, they are ready to roll, and for cones, we can simply take on old box—say the lid from copier paper boxes—and make a handy stand for them. Again, the tops can then be composted when all is said and done.
5. Fruit Rind Halves
With a little forethought, citrus fruits like mandarins and lemons (especially when juiced) and avocados can make perfect seedling cups. Just be sure to cut them in half so that the two pieces of rind are well suited to hold enough soil for seeds to get going. Then, by the time the rinds get a little questionable, the plants — pots and all — can go into the ground.
6. Cardboard Boxes
Cardboard boxes can also make pretty good starter pots, especially when the soil is abundant or the seed being started needs a little more space for its roots to spread, such as with a small fruit variety or quick-growing tree. The concern here will be the box falling apart before the plants are ready to go in the ground, but with some careful management, these can make dandy plant starters or temporary planters that are a bit more durable. Also, be sure to remove any tape as it isn’t biodegradable.
7. Pulp Project Pots
For thinner cardboard boxes, such with cereal or crackers, it’s possible to make pulp planter pots, and it’s a great project to do with the kids. Rip the boxes up into small pieces, soak them in water for a couple of hours, and whiz the soaked pieces in a regular blender. With muffin tins, use this pulp to form little pots inside the molds. Let pulp dry and that’s a pot. These probably work best for really quick seeds like lettuce.
And, that’s all it takes. Homemade biodegradable pots make a lot of sense, they save gardeners a lot of money, and they make good use of garbage. Ultimately, we get to eat the results.
Lead image source: Recyclart/Flickr