DIY Seed Starting: Newspaper Pots by

Issue 104 · Best of 2013 · December 28, 2013


Late winter is the time of year when gardens in New York look their worst, but when hopes for their future are at an all-time high. It’s the season of seed catalogs and bed planning, and when we get to the halfway point in the month, it’s time for seed starting. It might be ambitious for a gal already sharing 240 precious square feet of space to also endeavor to start seeds in her city apartment, but I’ve got big plans for my window box, and I wanted to try my hand at doing everything from scratch.

See more of Erin's DIY Adventures.

Photographs by Erin Boyle.

Above: In the spirit of do-it-yourself gardening, I decided to make my own pots from last Sunday’s paper. If you have an urge to begin a garden project of your own, consider these pots.

Here's what you'll need:


  • Newspaper.
  • Scissors, such as Clauss 6-Inch Scissors ($12.95 from Knife Center).
  • Straight-sided glass.
  • Twine (optional).
  • Potting soil.
  • Seeds, such as Heliotrope ($3.25 per packet from John Scheeper's)
  • Tray with a handle, such as a Metal Tool Tray via Etsy.

Above: To begin, find yourself some good black and white pages from your weekend newspaper delivery (or your neighbor’s recycling bin). Avoid densely colored or shiny papers as they could leach dyes into your soil. Unfold your newspaper and tear one open sheet along its center crease so you’re starting with a long, narrow half sheet. Next, fold that sheet in half, lengthwise, and in half again—also lengthwise—so you’ve got one long and skinny strip of newspaper.



Many of us enjoy growing paperwhite narcissus during the Christmas season.  We force them to bloom inside in many mediums, soil, stones, plain water.  Now what do we do with them?  I did a little searching and this was the best information I could come up with.  If you have more information that you can share regarding forced bulbs please shoot me an email via our contact us page. Posted by Jacki Brewer

"Storing "spent" paperwhite bulbs is far riskier than just planting them outside.  DO NOT cut the leaves or you'll destroy any chance of the bulbs recharging. DO cut the stems of the spent flowers, however.

If you happen to have forced these bulbs in shallow pans of soil, then there's a good chance of their recovery in the garden, but many people don't force them in soil, so the bulbs wear themselves out blooming and sometimes never perform well a second time.  If they do recover outdoors, they could still skip a year flowering outdoors, or flower poorly for a couple years before being fully restored.  If forced in soil they can be planted out at the first sign of spring.  Or let them go dormant in their pots & plant them out in autumn (in zone 8 --
plant them earlier in warmer zones where they bloom autumn & early
winter). At the time of planting, give them a high phosphorous fertilizer
just that once. Paperwhites unlike other narcissus don't require (but can
usually survive) a chill period, but they do require a summer dormancy.
Keep them a little moist when first planted, so that the leaves delay
their die-back as long as possible. If the ground dries out entirely
they'll go into summer dormancy before the leaves have recharged the



From A Way to suggested by Susan Thornbury

October 29, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Earthworms, from Great Lakes Worm WatchPERHAPS THE CREATURE the gardener knows best is the earthworm, but how deep does that knowledge go? Lately readers have been emailing me sensational headlines about “bad” earthworms, asking: Aren’t all earthworms “good”? To get an earthworm 101, I invited Ryan Hueffmeier, an environmental scientist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Director of Great Lakes Worm Watch, to join me on the radio this week. Our Q&A includes some surprises:

prefer the podcast?

THE TOPIC WAS EARTHWORMS on this week’s public-radio show. It’s a must-listen, and you can do so anywhere, anytime: Locally, in my Hudson Valley (NY)-Berkshires (MA)-Litchfield Hills (CT) region, “A Way to Garden” airs on Robin Hood Radio’s three stations on Monday at 8:30 AM Eastern, with a rerun at 8:30 Saturdays. It is available free on iTunes, the Stitcher app, or streaming from or via its RSS feed. The October 21, 2013 show can be streamed here now. Robin Hood is the smallest NPR station in the nation; our garden show marked the start of its fourth year in March, and is syndicated via PRX.

First, some background: Great Lakes Worm Watch is a citizen-science outreach organization, working to map the state of the earthworms—and the habitats they’re living in.

“We want to know where earthworms are across the landscape,” says Ryan—and that means even beyond the Great Lakes area, where the project began.  (There is a Canada Worm Watch, too, for those across the border; researchers at the University of Vermont, at the Cary Institute in Millbrook, New York, and elsewhere are likewise studying earthworm invasion.)

Individuals, schools or garden groups can sign on help collect data on what worms are found when and where. That last bit—the habitat, or “where” aspect–is key, because earthworms are neither good nor bad. The role they play, and whether it’s helpful or harmful, depends on the environment they make their way into.

Read more: EARTH WORMS 101


 Some folks asked me about my hypertufa pots during the garden tour. They were very simple and fun to make. Here is a "how to" video that pretty much is the way we (Nancy and I) did it though we made a bigger batch in a wheel barrow to make a number of containers. Biggest thing is to be patient and let the container dry for a week or two before you take it out of the mold. We also did not sift the peat moss and that did not seem to affect the pots any. Maybe sifting makes them smoother? Also, be sure to use plain portland cement, not the kind with stones in it.
Hypertufa: How to make a planter