DIY plastic-free pots
It’s very heartening to see that plastic is a huge public issue in the UK these days – and I daresay most gardeners have at some point or another been struck by just how much plastic there is in the garden now compared with even twenty years ago.
Experienced garden mavens will tell you clay and terracotta pots make better, stronger plants anyway, but for those of us on a more restrictive budget, there’s got to be an alternative to the hundreds and hundreds of plastic pots that stack up.
Here’s one alternative to consider right from the start.
The benefit of making your own seedling pots from recycling newspapers is that not only are individual units easier to dot about your windowsills than great big trays, and when the time comes to harden them off outside and get them into the earth, you can plant the paper in directly. The paper rots away of course, but in the meantime they might get that little extra time before hitting the earth cold.
I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing in every case for a strong, healthy plant, but I figure there’s no gain from stressing young plants unnecessarily. Plus, I’m still always looking for extra matter to mix in with the nutrient-rich clay.
(I’ll make a note about compost in the future – both for clay gardeners like me who know the whole extra wedge of budget that goes into preparing the earth, unless you have your own rotting organic matter source on hand!- and for regular composters who are looking for the perfect recipe! And I’ll especially focus on peat-free alternatives to mushroom compost etc.)
Now, I do have a specialist tool for these pots. It was given to me as a gift, and it was years before I actually used it. This must save hours of labour overall – and each little pot takes a couple of seconds! Here’s the one I use:
- Don’t wrap the paper too tight round the barrel – I’ve wrecked a few trying to get them to come off!
- Leave enough at the bottom so you’re not left with a gap! I’d leave too much rather than too little – you can always scrunch it right down with the tool!
- Remember to put them on something! These are still paper, so watering will get messy… (I know plastic is tempting as a tray base, but ceramics are just as good – and head to a vintage market or charity shops and you have an excuse to get something beautiful!)
If you gift your own plants for birthdays or Christmas, you can make something really sweet this way with different coloured and textured paper – and be very extravagant with ribbons, jute, string – dried flowers…
Handmade is good for the soul. And the environment, usually.
A Note on Tools…
I’m not sure how much this tool would have cost, but think it’s an investment, and I suspect most gardeners like good tools. Making paper pots without a tool isn’t exactly difficult, so you never have to buy a product to make the change from plastic to recycling.
But if you know you’re better off with the right tool, it’s worth it to make the change over – and it does speed up the process about ten times. Just make sure you don’t buy a plastic one!!
I’m going to make a reference list for myself every time I find a good use for something recycled, (plastic water bottles cut in half make 2 pretty decent cloches for small tender plants!), if you have any ingenious recycling gems, please share, and I’ll put the list together for everyone!