Recycled paper pots for growing seeds

I am flattered to have been asked to be the School of Thrift’s resident gardening expert. However, I think it would be more than a bit untruthful to describe myself as an expert. I would suggest ‘enthusiast’ is probably a better description. So, in the name of enthusiasm, here is a little post about a thrifty way to grow seeds.

Have you ever seen one of these?

IMG_9408The wooden pieces on the right are a little device used to make paper pots for seeds. I like the idea of starting seeds off in individual pots but I don’t like the idea of transplanting them. I’m not sure that the seedlings like it much either. It can’t be nice, having their delicate roots disturbed. Lots of gardening gurus recommend using small coir pots (made of coconut husks) that simply decompose when the seedling is eventually planted into the ground. These little paper pots do the same thing but you can make them for free and recycle your newspaper at the same time. Unfortunately I can’t tell you how effective they are because this is the first time I’ve tried them.

paperpotsYou simply roll a strip of newspaper around the cylinder part (not too tight) then starting at the seam, fold the bottom over. I found that three folds were enough to neatly close the gap. Next you press the bottom of your pot into the other part of the wooden former and twist. Finally, remove the pot from the wooden cylinder (this is sometimes a bit tricky and requires a bit of wriggling) and hey presto, you have a pot. Call me sad but I found making these little pots really addictive.

IMG_9511The next problem is how to store the pots once you have planted them up. Their very nature means that they are a bit floppy, especially after they have been watered. They also become slightly mouldy after a while, which is probably a good thing and all part of the decomposing process. I hunted around our shed for a suitable tray to put them in but all the proper seed trays had holes in the bottom. Not ideal for keeping leaky pots on a clean windowsill. Fortunately for me we had several old ice cream tubs out in our garage, waiting to be re-used. They turned out to be the perfect size for 12 little paper pots. Very satisfying.

My mind also skipped back to an image I had seen on Pinterest (you can take a look at my gardening board here) of a drinks carton being used as a plant pot. Rooting around in the recycling bag I found two empty cartons and chopped off one of the larger sides of each.

IMG_9510Bingo – just the right size for 8 little pots and the cartons themselves sit together on a windowsill or greenhouse shelf in a pleasingly snug sort of way.

So far I have sown sunflowers, leeks, sweetcorn, sweet peas, oregano and rosemary in these little pots and they are all germinating (well, except the rosemary, but that takes a notoriously long time).

Have you noticed my plant labels? I have been making these for a long time. I cut up old plastic containers, anything from margarine tubs to milk cartons and use them. They are probably not as durable as shop bought ones but they are free and I *think* the plastic in milk cartons is biodegradable.

Now, what I’d really like to see is someone ingenious enough to create a paper pot maker from recycled materials. Surely all you would need is a pipe to wrap the paper around and, erm, hmm, something to form the base. And that is where my creativity ends. Happy seed sowing everyone.

Birthday Treats

Well, yes, it is in fact my birthday and yes, I love having my birthday so close to Christmas.

As one gets (ahem, whisper it) older, one requires much less from a birthday celebration.

My only requirement these days is Breakfast In Bed.

As you can see from the picture, it doesn’t have to be gourmet. Tea, toast and orange juice are perfect as far as I’m concerned. I’m not sure why Son Number One thought I would like a cream cracker. May I say I don’t normally drink out of plastic lidded beakers or camping mugs. Husband deemed it wise, for son number one was intent on carrying the breakfast tray in to me. I think I may have spent the day in the burns unit if it hadn’t been for Husband’s foresight. Son Number One was soooo excited about organising my breakfast in bed. He had also been at great pains to create a specially decorated box. Grandma had helped with the gift inside. He has obviously been having lessons from his father because the box was big and the gift was…small (but appreciated).

It was probably lucky that the Middle Miss slept in while he did it. Sharing such responsibilities can be tricky for all concerned.  Luckily for me, they took their turns at giving me birthday cuddles. Even Babykins stayed asleep a little longer than usual so I could get in the shower in peace.

Do you want to see what was inside those two packages?

Lovely things. Made by mmum. There was something else too. A very cleverly made, large, paper bauble. MadebyMum’s Mum is big into paper craft at the moment of which, more evidence later…

How about my cards, would you like a peek a those?

Slushy eh?

We made a hasty exit to my Mum’s place because our hairdresser was coming to give us our pre Christmas trim. There was another present and card to open. Here is what was inside.

Isn’t my Mum clever? I told you she was into paper craft in a big way. If you are local and you want to get into this kind of thing, there is a lovely lady called Angela Dawes who runs classes from her home in Ingleby Barwick. You can find her blog, Sparkly Cards and Paper Crafts here. It’s worth a look.

It felt like there were a million things going on at Mum’s. The hairdresser was chop chopping, there was a team of men outside mending the roof who kept shouting for cups of tea and three children needed breakfast. It felt hectic because every couple of seconds we were looking out to see where babykins was. He is practically running already despite being not quite one (eight more days).

Finally, the activity subsided and some quiet crafting occurred.

Would you like to see ‘The Workshop’?

See the organisation. It’s taken years.

Middle Miss drawing a Christmas Tree

What are we cutting out here?

More of Mum’s clever papery things

Remember I said there was another gift from my Mum? A big, paper bauble? Well, the flowery things being cut out in the photos above are the start of another one. We downloaded the pattern from How About Orange. I haven’t had time to browse this blog but what I have seen looks FAB. The finished bauble looks like this (top left).

Sorry it’s not a great picture (try and ignore the background). The light was fading. It is the solstice you know, shortest day and all that.

Isnt’ that clever? The person who designed it must be really good at thinking in 3D. It really was easy to make, occasionally a bit fiddly but really, not that bad. There are next to no instructions other than ‘cut out the shapes’ and ‘slide them together’. My only complaint was that I couldn’t seem to avoid having two adjacent colours the same. I’m not mathematically minded enough to work out how many different shades I need to cut out in order to avoid  that. There are 12 ‘flowers’ all together so let me know if you are good at that kind of thing. I tried three and that wasn’t enough either. Maybe I should try 12!

So now I am having another little bit of quiet time. Babykins asleep, bigger children still with Grandma. What should I do?

Hmmm……

Birthdays don’t come everyday. You’ve got to make the most of them.

Happy Solstice.