paper_potsIn recent years, I’ve gotten progressively more obsessive about gardening, extending all my beds until they stretch along nearly every inch of the property line and around all permanent structures. Filling them in with plants can be very expensive. Starting from seed is an easy way to reduce that cost tremendously. But, it still involved some investment in peat pots – until I discovered a free source of planters!

potmakerFranne J., A long time companion gardener and devout recycler with whom I am collaborating on the vegetable garden this year, turned me on to the PotMaker®. It’s a simple wooden device which creates an endless supply of pots out of newspaper. Like peat pots, they are biodegradable and can be planted with the seedling , reducing the trauma of transplanting to the plant.

3sizesI recently ordered one online, where they vary from $14 to $50. But, while I was waiting for it to arrive I ran across directions by Cindy Dorfsmith for creating your own paper pot maker. Eager to get started, I altered the design slightly and created 3 different sizes for under $15. My PotMaker® arrived last night and it turns out the ones I made work better. It is easier to slip the created pot off of them, they allow for a taller pot and the inside plunger in the design I altered puts less pressure on the joints in my fingers and hands when creating the pot. I also prefer using the smaller size homemade pot maker because smaller pots use less soil mix and more will fit in my limited indoor growing space.

Supplies needed:

  • For 2” pots: 2” pvc coupling; 1 1/2” pvc threaded cap; 1 1/2” pvc male adapter; 1 1/2” pvc plug
  • For 1 1/2” pots: 1 1/2” pvc coupling; 1” pvc threaded cap; 1” pvc male adapter; 1” pvc plug
  • For 1” pots: 1” pvc coupling; 1/2” pvc threaded cap; 1/2” male adapter; 1/2” pvc plug


plunger assemblyTo create pot makers simply screw the 3 plunger parts together for each size device. The cap goes on one end of the adapter and the plug goes on the other end of it. For the 2” pot maker, I had to saw off the ridges for the plunger to fit inside the coupling. You can also use a threadless cap which does not have the ridges and glue the pieces together. The plunger will fit inside the coupling.

To create pots follow these simple steps:

  1. Cut a strip of newspaper. As with newspaper weed barrier, only use the regular pages, not the glossy insert pages. Leave the paper folded in half and starting at the fold cut the strip about a 1/2” wider than you want the height of the pot to be.
  2. Starting at the fold, wrap the newspaper around the coupling. Leave a 1/2” hanging over the edge.
  3. You can secure the end of the paper with a small piece of masking tape. This holds it in place and also provides a place to label your seedling pot.
  4. Fold the overhanging paper at the end towards the middle all around. Next, holding the other end of the coupling, mash it onto a hard surface to put a crease around the perimeter of what you have folded in.
  5. Holding the coupling in place with one hand, use the other to put the plunger inside the coupling. Press and roll the plunger around firmly to crease and flatten the bottom of your pot.
  6. Slide your new pot off the coupling.
  7. Fill with your favorite seed starter soil mix and seeds. When ready plant the entire pot in your garden.

You can save even more by repurposing other items.  Clear contains given at restaurants for taking home food make excellent mini greenhouses to trap moisture and help seeds germinate and cut up slats from old mini blinds work well for labeling your seeds.



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