This is a guest post and entry in Round 2 of the Farm Dreams writing contest. The prizes for this round include:
Door #1: A
Travel Royal Berkey Walter Purification system from Directive 21. Valued at $228!
Round 2 ends began May 7 and ends July 7 so GET BUSY WRITING and
Door #2: Two
Super Survival Seed packs from Seed for Security. Valued at $150!
Door #3: A 164' roll of electric
poultry netting from Kencove. Valued at $140!
Door #4: A
60 serving entree pack of emergency food from MyFoodStorage.com. Valued at $119!
Door #5: A $100 gift certificate from
Baker Creek Seeds! Valued at $100.
email your entry to us today!
Giving Your Organic Plants a Head Start in Newspaper Pots, by F. Johnson
Newly sprouted seeds face a number of challenges in the big, wild world that is your garden. The weather can vary drastically from day to day in the spring bringing anything from extreme heat to hailstorms, wind, downpours, and freezing temperatures. Slugs are often very busy during the high moisture of springtime and your new little seedling, just barely above the soil, is the best dinner around. To avoid frustrations like these, start your seeds indoors.
Insects have specific timelines and if your plants are not there when they are, they will leave or die off. Starting indoors allows protection from insects, extreme weather, and other natural challenges when plants are most fragile. I also find I have improved germination because when the seeds are inside, I keep a much closer eye on their watering.
Starting seeds indoors has its drawbacks too. For one, you need a place to set up shelves or at least a sunny windowsill. You also need pots to put them in. I don’t use peat due to the destruction of peat bogs. And plastic makes such a mess - they break and leave little bits of plastic around my garden and eventually end up in the landfill. Transplanting is also disruptive to the roots of plants setting back their time to production - this is a real problem if you are further north and want long-season crops such as winter squash or peppers.
While I can’t help you find more space to start your seeds - have you tried your car?, I do have a great way to start seeds indoors for very little money - newspaper pots!Newspaper pots can be planted directly in the ground greatly reducing root system disruption and allowing plants to continue growing without any setbacks. Since I transplant almost everything, I don’t waste seeds from thinning as they are planted out at the correct spacing - no gaps or wasted space from un-germinated seeds either.
I even start corn for my 3 sisters garden in these pots so I can plant the corn out and put the beans in the ground on the first frost-free day.
How do you start seeds in newspaper?
Get a big pile of newspaper and fold up some pots. (Almost all newspaper, color and black and white, is made from natural soy inks now, so it’s safe for your plants.)
Here is my favorite video on how to make newspaper pots:
It uses an origami technique - so no tape or glue, and the pots are a bit larger than others which allows you to only transplant once - right into the garden.
Tips for your pots:
If your newspapers are narrower than those used in the video, as they are in many rural areas, you will need to fold the top of your paper down anywhere from 2” to 6” before starting - the narrower your paper, the more you need to fold.
To stay folded, you will need at least a 1.5” flap at the top of your pots, bigger is better. To make bigger flaps, fold more at the beginning - see tip #1.
These pots take some time to make, so once you are comfortable folding them, put on the Farm Dreams Farmcast and fold while you listen.
Once your pots are folded, rubberband them together in groups to reinforce the folds. Leave them this way for a few days.
Open your pots and place them into plastic trays. If you can, buy the double trays so that water can drain through the first tray, with the second tray keeping water from damaging your floor. Pack the pots into the trays tightly as this not only helps them retain their shape, but also keeps the soil more evenly moist. If you do end up with spaces or gaps between pots, use pots with bigger flaps as they keep their shape better.
Fill your pots with compost (or other seed starting mix - I like compost as it is free). I use an old kitchen spoon to fill and pack the compost in. Pack with as much compost as possible and mound the top.
Using clothespins, pin the flaps into place.
Then water your pots and allow them to dry. Once they are dry-ish, remove the clothespins and your pots will retain their shape. Watering before planting will also help settle the soil. If it settles down below the top, add a bit more compost.
Plant your seeds. Water, give plenty of sunshine, and watch them grow!
*Be sure to very gradually harden them off by giving them outside time before transplanting in Step 7.
The weather is warmer and your plants are strong enough to survive a little insect challenge, it’s time to plant them outside.
First, prepare your beds and dig the holes your plants will move into. Make the holes deep enough to set the pot inside with the top of the pot at or just below the surface.
By this time the bottom of your pots may not be in great shape. Carry the whole tray to the holes you dug. Slide your hand under the first pot supporting the bottom (or the soil if it has ripped open) and set it carefully into the prepared hole.
Bury the entire pot, including the flaps, any newspaper left above ground will wick moisture out of the soil.
That’s it! Simple, almost free, and your plants are off to a great, bug-free start!