Northern & Central Midwest
Clever Gardening Technique
Making Paper Pots
One of my winter activities is to sit in front of the fire (or television) and make paper pots for growing seedlings. This is a great way to recycle newspaper and make something for the garden that truly is biodegradable. Making the pots is simple. Tear or cut newspapers the long way into strips three to four inches wide. Wrap a strip around a tomato paste can for small pots or a soup can for a larger pot. Coil the paper on the can somewhat loosely so you can take it off without unwrapping. Remove it carefully and secure the end with a swipe of a glue stick. Stand the pots in a plastic seed-starting flat or a mesh tray. They don't need bottoms because the tray holds the soil in place and they won't be moved until the roots fill the pot and hold the soil in place. If you pack the tray so that the pots are touching on all sides, they hold themselves in the tray. When it's time to start seeds, fill the pots with moistened potting mix and sow your seeds. The paper pots hold their shape long enough to get through to transplant time, when the you lift them out and plant them, paper pot and all. Just make sure there is no paper sticking above the soil line or it will wick water away from the roots.
Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces by Susan Morrison, Rebecca Sweet (Cold Springs Press 2011) is a wonderful guide for the gardener who has a small amount of ground space or who simply wants to make better use of the growing space. Rather than take the broad subject head-on, the authors break down this subject into solutions such as "skinny space" planting beds, urban gardens, edibles, and living walls. They do talk about plant choice, including combining ornamentals and edibles, but the focus is on design solutions. They tell you how you can hide an ugly wall, or have a bit of beauty in that tiny bed next to the garage. They help you figure out a no-nonsense approach to growing things up instead of out, with tips for using commercially made trellising systems as well as ways to build your own using recycled materials.