Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Seeding Update

The chile pepper and eggplant seeds that I sowed on February 17 started to germinate on the 22nd and are continuing. Most of the varieties have started to sprout with the exception, mostly, of older seeds. It also seems like the seeds closer to the center of the unit are germinating faster, so today I turned the flat around so the pots that were at the end are now closer to the center.

Tomato seeds were sown into the other flat on the 20th and the first sprouts were appearing yesterday.

The next seed starting project is for seeds that don't like to have their roots disturbed. Those seeds get sown in paper pots. I have a nifty little paper pot maker which you can see in the background above. I tear newspaper into strips about 3 1/2 inches wide by 12 inches long.

A strip of paper is wrapped around the pot maker with about 1 1/2 inches extending off the end of the form.

Pleat the overhanging paper over the end of the mold.

Twist the mold into the base to crease the bottom of the paper into shape.

The result is a nice little paper pot that you can slip off the mold.

Voila! A nice little pot ready to be filled with soil.

The flat above contains newly sown seeds of Magnolia Blossom Snap Peas and Green Beauty Snow peas. When I put the plants in the garden, I tear off the top 1/2 inch or so of paper to make sure that it doesn't extend above the soil. Doing so prevents the exposed paper from wicking moisture away from the rest of the pot buried in the soil.

In my opinion, the paper pots are far better than peat pots for a few of reasons. First, it's a way of recycling newspaper rather than using a resource that is only very slowly regenerated. But more importantly, paper pots allow for better root development. Peat pots decompose very slowly and roots don't get through them very easily. The paper pots, on the other hand, break down very rapidly once they are in the soil which allows roots to spread out easily. I even have seedlings that send their roots right through the sides of the pots into the neighboring pots while still in the seed tray. Another problem with peat pots is that if they are allowed to dry out too much they actually start to repel water and become difficult to rewet - not good for those tender little roots that are in contact with the peat.

The only complaint I have about paper pots is that making them is a bit tedious. So, I keep a stack of paper strips and the pot maker by the computer and when I'm sitting there waiting. . . . I grab a strip and make another pot. As soon as I 've made another tray of pots I will be sowing seeds of Golden Sweet Snow Peas, Red Florence Fennel, and Diamante Celeriac.


  1. The paper pots look really good and I may try some of those.

  2. How exciting about your tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. I love when I first start seeing seedlings.
    I'm not a fan of peat pots either. I've heard of some people that rip the bottoms off before they plant them, but that really defeats the purpose. It is just as easy to make paper pots.

  3. Jan, the wooden pot maker makes it really easy, if you can find one. I've also made large paper pots by rolling the paper around cans and then holding the bottom together with a bit of tape.

    Daphne, it is such fun to see the babies! I must check on them at least 3 times a day.

  4. Don't you just love it when your little seedlings start popping up? I really like recycling and your newspaper pots are great.

  5. Such an exciting time of the year! My first tomato seedlings came up today ... in spite of my constant checking! The paper pots are a great idea. I was going to use toilet rolls for bigger seeds like courgettes (zucchini), but they may not decompose quickly enough.

  6. Thanks for the tips on these paper pots. We'll have to try them.

  7. Those are really nice little pots. I have got to get one of those, perhaps I can make one. I'm really tired of using the pellets, they are not quite tall enough. You are right about them not break down all that well in the soil.


  8. Susie, it's kinda silly, but yes I do love it!

    Chaiselongue, are you familiar with the saying "a watched pot never...", well it should be "boils", but at this time of year it's "sprouts". My little babies have no privacy at all.

    Randy, I think you'll like them.

    Mr. H, you'll like the paper pots much better than the peat ones. I can post some measurements and a couple more photos of the pot maker if you like.

  9. I googled PotMaker just now and came up with a bunch of results for the same maker that I have. The price ranges anywhere from $14 to $17.

  10. Hi Michelle, those paper pots are such a great idea! And so many seedlings on the way, excitement plus! All the best. Will be sowing the winter seedlings here soon (broccoli and snow peas) scary to think!

  11. Those paper pots are awesome, Michelle and so many! No no, I'm not envious, seriously. I wish you luck :)

  12. Hi Michelle, As you know,(or may not know!) this is my first time EVER sowing seeds, so the kit from Lowe's was my motivational force! But I do see your points as valid...and I will definitely keep this idea at hand when and if, I keep doing seeds! I'm not yet sure how far I'm going to take it!!! One thing I liked about the larger peat pots was that I didn't have to purchase anything else to transfer my little seedlings (from the original peat pellets) into after they got a bit bigger. BUT, I understand now that I wouldn't need to do that at all if I'd just start out in a more substantial paper pot from the start...and fill with my own soil and just forget about those peat pellets all together!! As you can see, I am a total novice in this area! Thanks for another great idea:)

  13. I've been seeing these paper pot making thingies for about twenty-five bucks, and I'm sort of choking on that price.

    Are they worth it?

  14. Lisa and Robb, You can get them online for a lot less than that. I use mine all the time and have had it for years. You could also try just rolling some newspaper strips around a can and fastening the ends with a bit of tape. I've done that to make larger pots, it's a more tedious process though...


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