What you will need

  • A newspaper that you have finished reading
  • A small craft stapler and staples (see why use staples?)
  • Scissors

How to make newspaper pots

It''s best to use a sheet of newspaper approximately 400mm (16'') by 300mm (12''). Smaller community newspapers usually have pages about this size, or you can cut up a larger sheet from a major newspaper.

This size newspaper sheet will give you a pot that is a good size for individual vegetable seedlings. You can play around with different sizes, but if you are using seed raising mix (which we recommend) it can get expensive if your pots are too large.

Step one:

Lay the sheet out on a flat surface.

Step two:

Fold the sheet in half lengthways so you end up with a double thick rectangle.

Step three:

Fold one of the top corners down so that the top edge lines up with one of the long edges. Because you started with a rectangle, there will be some overhang at the bottom.

Step four:

Cut off the strip of newspaper at the bottom so that you are left with just the triangle, as shown in the picture above.

Step five:

Unfold the triangle and you should end up with a square, two layers thick.

Step six:

Your square will have a crease from corner to corner. Create an identical crease running between the other two corners by folding the square in half diagonally again.

Step seven:

Gather two of the sides in as shown in the photo. If you have creased the sheets of paper properly this step should be easy.

Step eight:

If step seven has been done properly, you should be able to fold the edges right in and end up with the shape shown in the photo for step eight.

Step nine:

If you have performed steps seven and eight correctly, you should be able to fold the two corners up as shown in the photo for step nine. Fold so that each corner ends up about half way between the tip of the large triangle and the point created by your fold.

Step ten:

Fold the two points you have just created in so that they overlap just enough to staple them together using a small craft staple.

Steps eleven and twelve:

Flip it over and repeat steps nine and ten on the reverse side as shown above. Use another staple as before.

Step thirteen:

You should be able to unfold your pot to look something like this:

If it didn''t work out quite like the photo, keep trying. Steps seven and eight is where most people go wrong. As long as it holds dirt it will do the job.

Using your homemade peat pots

Half fill the pot with seed raising mix (recommended) or soil. Gently place the young seedling in the pot and add more soil or seed raising mix until the pot is a little over three quarters fill. Gently firm the soil or seed raising mix around the base of the delicate plant.

Place the plants on a sunny window sill or in your mini green house and keep moist. When the plants are large enough to go in the garden, plant the whole pot. The newspaper will break down and your plants will thank you for not disturbing their roots.

Be careful when picking up your filled newspaper pots, especially when wet. Two layers of newspaper generally provides enough strength while still breaking down easily. But rough handling can lead to disaster.

You can make them four layers thick by doubling up from step one, but I have found two layers is enough if you handle with care.

Why use staples?

I've shared my design for newspaper pots with lots of people over the years, and I often get the remark "but staples aren't biodegradable". This may be true, but I use stables because:

  • Staples may not be biodegradable but they are non-toxic and do eventually rust away.
  • A pack of 1,000 craft staples is smaller than a matchbox. You only use two per newspaper pot and you are hardly going to notice them in your garden afterwards.
  • I've tried designs that don't use staples and they are prone to fall apart, even if folded perfectly.
  • If you really want too, you can pull the staple out just before planting. They come out very easily when the pot is wet.