Who Needs the Nursery when You’ve Got Newspaper: a tutorial on planting


Dear Friends in the Northern Hemisphere,  (Yes, Americans, that’s you…)

I know you can hardly believe that winter will ever end. I hear the snow has amassed in States that never see snow. You’ve been ice-bound, snow-bound, and all around stuck inside for far too long. But do not fear – spring is coming!

As a little way to get you thinking, planting, and scheming for Spring, I’m posting a basic tutorial on how we start our seedlings, transplant them into paper cups, and then eventually plant them out in the garden**. Starting seeds inside is not only fulfilling, but also allows you to get a jump-start on the growing season. Additionally, you’ll save a few bucks and get your hands dirty before the ground even thaws! Plus, come July when your tomatoes are rocking it in the garden, you can brag to all your friends – I grew this puppy from a seed! Everyone will stand in awe. It’ll be great.

Paper Cup Planting Tutorial

1. Gather your supplies: old newspaper, a glass or cylindrical container about 2-4 inches in diameter, a dinner fork.

1. Gather your supplies: old newspaper, a dinner glass or any cylindrical container about 2-4 inches in diameter (the FORM) & a dinner fork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. To prepare the newspaper: Cut in half along the ‘binding’ or crease. Lay aside one half for later. Fold the remaining half hot-dog-style aka length-wise, TWICE. You’ll have a folded piece that’s 1/4th the size of the original. Unfold and cut or tear along the creases. You’ll have 4 nice stacks of strips about 4-6 inches tall, and 12-16 inches wide. Repeat the process with the other half you torn at the beginning.

3. Lay your form (the cylindrical container you gathered) off-center on the newspaper.

3. Lay your form (the cylindrical container you gathered) off-center on the newspaper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Roll the form to the end of the newspaper, creating a  cylinder. Notice: you'll need 3/4 - 1 inch leeway.

4. Roll the form to the end of the newspaper, creating a cylinder. Notice: you’ll need 3/4 – 1 inch leeway at the top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Firmly fold down the "leeway" edges, creating a bottom to your paper cup.

5. Firmly fold down the “leeway” edges, creating a bottom to your paper cup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Crease the edges so the cup holds shape well.

6. Crease the edges so the cup holds shape well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Taa daa! Now you have a paper cup. Perfect for planting in!

7. Taa daa! Now you have a paper cup. Perfect for planting in!

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Make as many paper cups as you have seedlings. I always mis-count, so I recommend making 10 or 20 extra, so you have plenty to plant into.

9. Grab your paper cups and soil and get comfy! Fill your paper cups with soil to the top edge. We use a 50% compost & 50% worm compost mix. I definitely recommend some sort of rich soil, NOT manure!

9. Grab your paper cups and soil and get comfy! Fill your paper cups with soil to the top edge. We use a 50% compost & 50% worm compost mix. I definitely recommend some sort of rich soil, but NOT manure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9b. Hum tunes, sing songs, enjoy the dirty fingernails and fill those cups!

9b. Hum tunes, sing songs, enjoy the dirty fingernails and fill those cups!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Keep filling and stack all of your paper cups in a container that allows air and water to flow freely. We use a recycled milk crate with slightly lower sides.

10. Keep filling and stack all of your paper cups in a container that allows air and water to flow freely. We use a recycled milk crate with slightly lower sides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. With your kitchen fork in hand, locate your seedlings that have 2 leaves+. TENDERLY dig your fork into the soil around the plant's stem. Wiggle it across the box's bottom, loosening the roots. (You can FEEL the roots - if they're still stuck you'll have resistance.) Hold the plant leaves TENDERLY (c'mon these are babies!). Only touch your plant's leaves because your clumsy fingers (mine too) will easily crush the stem if you hold it.

11. With your kitchen fork in hand, locate your seedlings that have 2 leaves+. TENDERLY dig your fork into the soil around the plant’s stem. Wiggle it across the box’s bottom, loosening the roots. (You can FEEL the roots – if they’re still stuck you’ll have resistance.).  Hold the plant leaves TENDERLY (c’mon these are babies!). Only touch your plant’s leaves because your clumsy fingers (mine too) will easily crush the stem if you hold it.

 

 

 

 

(Note: About two weeks earlier, you’ll need to have planted your seeds in a basic box. You could use almost any container, just make sure it drains a little. Mark your seeds with their variety and type. I use a 50% sand, 50% compost mix. This soil does not have to be very rich. and needs to drain well. Hence sand.)

 

 

 

 

12. Using a stick, make a hole in the filled paper cup.

12. Using a stick, make a hole in the filled paper cup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13. GENTLY lower the roots into the hole, using a stick (or another fancy gardening tool!) to guide the roots down. You want the roots to be pointed downwards.

13. GENTLY lower the roots into the hole, using a stick (or another fancy gardening tool!) to guide the roots down. You want the roots to be pointed downwards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14. Fill in the remaining space around the roots, up to the plant's base.

14. Fill in the remaining space around the roots, up to the plant’s base.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15. Repeat the previous steps until all your baby seedlings are transplanted into paper cups. Remember to label them!

15. Repeat the previous steps until all your baby seedlings are transplanted into paper cups. Remember to label them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16. Place under a grow lamp when it’s too cold outside, or in a sunny window. You will want to water your seedlings several  times a day. My friends at Bluefield Farm taught me a watering trick. Take a 1-2 liter plastic bottle. Poke holes in the lid using a knife. 5-7 holes should suffice. Fill with water, place the lid back on, and you have a nursery ‘watering’ bottle. The stream from the small holes will not hammer the plants like a normal, full-size watering can would.

17. Before you know it, your seedlings will keep growing. These pictured plants are 4 weeks old, starting from the day we planted as seeds.

17. Before you know it, your seedlings will keep growing. These pictured plants are 4 weeks old, starting from the day we planted as seeds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18. If your Date of Last Frost has not passed, but your seedlings have outgrown the paper cups, you can use a larger form, to create larger cups and transplant into them. We typically only leave them in paper cups for 2-3 weeks. Any longer and the cups will start to *ahem* disintegrate.

19. To plant outside: Simply dig a small hole, place the whole cup – yes cup and all! – into the soil. Tear off any newspaper that sticks up past the soil’s edge. Gently tamp into place, surround with mulch, water gently.

The BEST thing about these paper cups is that when it comes time to transplant out – there is zero trauma to your plants. By the time the roots are ready to ‘outgrown’ your paper cup, the newspaper will have disintegrated, and your tomato will stretch her roots down, forgetting she was ever started inside a planter.

Do you start your seeds inside? What tips do you have for growing seedlings? What questions do you have about this method? 

** All credit goes to Permaculture South Africa for teaching us this method. Thanks, guys!

Advertisements
Categories: just for fun | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Post navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: