(unintended) corporate sponsorship...

[this week's post is (unintentionally) brought to you by whatever clown Amazon pays to make their shipping decisions. or... what to do with all the packing material you end up with when a toaster-sized item arrives in a bathtub-sized box.]

back in my Botanic Garden days, we came across something called a paper pot maker and decided to give it a try. it is a wooden contraption that is used to turn sheets of newspaper into small pots suitable for starting seeds and raising transplants for the garden. it is based on a simple idea: wrap a long strip of paper around a cylinder and fold the lower edges inward to form a bottom to the resulting cup. it is an economical alternative to the commonly-employed peat pot—especially if you happen to have a handy supply of newspaper, packing paper, or even paper grocery bags. however, you can easily produce the same results without the paper pot maker. enter packing material (thanks Amazon) and cans.

i used two adjacent sheets of packing paper for each pot...

folded in thirds to form a long strip.

make sure the strips of paper are long enough to be wrapped around the container at least two times. additionally, select a can with a concave base, as it makes it easier to form the bottom of the pots.

position the can along one edge of the strip...

and roll.

i added a piece of tape to secure the paper, but this is an optional step.

turn the can upside down and begin to fold the paper inward...

until you have formed the bottom to the pot. this is where that concave bottom comes in handy.

turn the can over and press firmly against a hard surface to set the crease along the bottom edge...

then carefully slide the pot from the can. et voilĂ !!!

check out that tight bottom!

i switched to the other can (it was a bit larger), but the process was the same. fold, wrap, tape, crease, remove, then rinse-and-repeat until you have the required number of pots.

i used two soils mixtures: an all-purpose potting soil (left) and a seed-starting soil (right). the seed-starting mixture is more finely ground, making it easier for delicate seedlings to work their way to the the surface, while the potting mixture will provide an adequate growing medium for the developing plants. the white stuff (that looks like styrofoam) is perlite, an expanded volcanic glass that is used to reduce compaction in the soil and to aid in moisture retention.

pro tip: dampen the soil before filling the pots. how damp? enough that it can be squeezed into a clump...

 but will still crumble apart like wet sand.

add potting mix to within one inch of the top.

and repeat for the remaining pots.

now comes the easy part. take some seeds from a pack and sprinkle a few into each pot. they will be thinned out as they grow.

cover the seeds with about half an inch of the seed-starting mixture (also dampened) and take a moment to celebrate. i went for a short walk to the kitchen and returned with refreshment of the liquid kind.

i drank the wine and cut up the juice container (it was rinsed out before going into the recycling box).

one permanent marker later, and i had waterproof labels

there were also bunching onion seeds...

which were planted in rows in a strawberry container.

and parsley seeds...

which were placed into the cap of the juice carton and are (still) soaking in water to facilitate germination.

everything was given a gentle watering and placed on a table near a bright window.

all i have to do now is to water regularly and wait... and it might help if i remember to plant that parsley before i fall asleep.

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