OK, so you feel like you’ve got your green credentials down by now – you’re reducing plastic in the kitchen, using chemical-free products and growing herbs and veggies in the garden. Gardening’s eco-friendly, right?
Of course, the answer is “yes", but working those green fingers can also involve wasteful materials. So is there a way of gardening without plastic? It's time to introduce the paper potter - a handy, eco-friendly tool that lets you make seedling pots out of old newspaper, and avoid plastic altogether!
Above: Black plastic plant pots cannot be sorted by recycling facilities
Let’s face it; plastic plant pots are like the supermarket bags of the garden - black plastic can't be detected by recycling facilities, so it ends up in landfill or incinerated. Spring and early summer is when your garden seems to be practically submerged in plastic pots as you plant and pot seedlings. So why not try your hand at growing seedlings in compostable newspaper pots.
You can easily make these from old newspaper, using a paper potter (finally, a use for those piles of Sunday papers you just can’t resist buying!). When the seedlings are ready for planting, you simply plant the whole pot in the soil, and the paper will biodegrade - genius! These aren’t the only advantages, either: you’ll save a lot of money, they look original and they’ll keep the kids busy on a rainy Saturday!
Above: We prefer our plant pots plastic-free and well-read
So how do you make newspaper plant pots and take your first steps towards gardening without plastic?
Step 1: Buy a Paper Potter
You’ll need to invest in this basic wooden kit to help you make an endless supply of seedling pots. You could also try using a bottle or other cylindrical item lying around the house, but the paper potter has the advantage of a purpose-made mould and base, so it's easier on your hands!
Above: With a Paper Potter you can make an endless supply of seedling pots
Step 2: Get the right paper
As we said, newspaper is perfectly suited for this. If you’ve already switched to online news in your bid to reduce waste (go you!) then other old paper will do. It needs to be flimsy enough to absorb water and easily decompose. Nothing shiny or coated, as that will simply act as plastic and never disappear!
Step 3: Wrap the paper
Cut a strip of paper that’s just under 60cm long and about 10cm wide. Roll this around the mould – tight enough so it’s secure but not so tight that it won’t slide off later. Line up the paper so you’ve got a substantial bit hanging over the bottom.
Step 4: Secure the bottom
Take the overhanging paper and push it over the edges of the mould, then push the base (which has an indentation) into the mould, twisting it around so the paper is packed tight. This makes a solid bottom for your newspaper plant pots so you won’t end up covered in soil.
Above: Twist the overhanging paper into the base for a solid bottom
Step 5: Get planting
Slide the paper pot off the mould, fill it with compost or soil and plant some seeds. It’s great for seedlings as when you later want to plant out the seedlings in your garden beds you can simply put the whole paper pot in the ground. The paper will biodegrade and your plant will thrive (hopefully – we take no responsibility for your gardening skills!).
Keen to give it a try? Find Paper Pot Makers in our plastic-free gardening collection.