Making large paper pots

Now that we know newspaper is as safe as anything else to use in the garden, here is a quick tutorial on how to make paper pots.

I generally use a soil block maker to start seeds and then another block maker for transplanting, but when I do make small paper pots, I use this wooden maker. However, you can use the same technique to make smaller pots using any concave-bottom-shaped vessel – some people use tomato paste cans, for example.

In this example, I’m making large paper pots – I typically use this size for tomato or pepper seedlings as their final up-potting before they get planted.

How to make large paper pots:

Any wine bottle with a concave bottom will do.

Any wine bottle with a concave bottom will do.

Step 1: Find a wine bottle with a concave bottom, and a sheet of newspaper. Fold the sheet in half length-wise.

 

 

 

 

Roll the bottle so the newspaper wraps around it.

Roll the bottle so the newspaper wraps around it.

Step 2: Lay bottle about 1.5″ above bottom of newspaper and roll. Don’t roll it too tight! If you do, it can be difficult to slide it off the bottle later.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2178Step 3: With the newspaper still on the bottle, crush the bottom of the newspaper into the concave area of the bottle.

 

 

 

IMG_2179Step 3: Still crushing newspaper into the bottle.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2180Step 4: This is what it should now look like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2181Step 5: Slide the newspaper off the bottle and you’re done!

Some people say to use tape or staples, but I never find that necessary. These will hold up just fine for several weeks. At planting time, I try to unroll the paper as best I can.

Happy growing!

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Upcoming compost class and event

I should have posted this earlier, but I’ve got one class (Thursday, October 1) and one event (Thursday, October 8) coming up.

The class is Composting 101, taught through Arlington Community Education, Thursday, October 1, 7 – 8:30 pm. We’ll cover all sorts of information, from basics to advanced, with time left over for questions.

The event is Rot & Roll, put on by the Arlington DPW, Thursday, October 8 from 4-6:30, heavy rain cancels. The event is free and held in the parking lot of the Arlington DPW, 51 Grove Street.

I’ll be there answering as many compost questions as I can (last event was a blast, with all sorts of composting questions coming from a large crowd), and DPW will have compost units for sale. Other groups, including LexFarm will be there showing off worm composting and other fun activities for the kids.

I hope you consider joining me at one or both events!

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Is newspaper safe to compost?

It is spring and your world is awash with compostable materials from the kitchen and yard, but you’ve got no leaves to act as a carbon-rich material, so now what?

Shredded newspaper. Image courtesy of David Bleasdale, some rights reserved.

Newspaper is the typical answer, but is it safe? Continue reading

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How many leaves do I need?

People often ask how many leaves they should save for their compost pile. It’s the right question to ask, because when making compost if you strike the correct balance of leaves and nitrogen-rich food scraps, you’ll get rich, light, sweet-smelling compost. Get it wrong and your compost may stink terribly or be very slow to decompose.

For each pail of food (or grass)

For each container of food scraps or coffee grounds.

Add twice as many leaves by volume.

Add twice as many leaves by volume.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, how many leaves do you need to stockpile to make compost?

Continue reading

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Breaking the rules and smelling the results

I know the rules of what should and should not go into compost. I’ve written about it. I’ve spoken with hundreds of people about the rules in classes.

Still, I broke the rules, and now I’m paying the price. Continue reading

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Garbage smells, compost doesn’t

Note: A shorter, slightly different, version of this appeared in the Arlington Advocate.

Concerns about smelly compost usually come from people who, understandably, don’t understand the difference between a compost pile and a pile of garbage.

So what are the differences between a pile of compost and a pile of putrid, foul-smelling, slimy ick? Carbon and air. Continue reading

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Starting a compost in winter

Started in the coldest weather, it took three weeks for this pile to heat up.

Started in the coldest weather, it took three weeks for this pile to heat up.

This has been a very cold, very snowy (snowiest on record, more falling as I type this, on March 28, 2015) winter. Even in these toughest conditions you can successfully start a compost and get it cooking.

I took this photo March 23, about one month after starting a new compost pile. Despite outdoor temperatures reaching above freezing only a few times, the pile was up over 100*. A week later the compost temperatures have been hovering between 110-120.

Continue reading

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Winter Composting do’s, don’ts and what if it doesn’t?

Thermometer is frosty, but inside the bin it is a cozy 140 F.

Thermometer is frosty, but inside the bin it is a cozy 140 F.

Winter composting always seems to confuse people, which is understandable.

So what is the secret to successful winter composting: Do the same things you do when composting the rest of the year, only faster. Continue reading

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Preparing for the Great Melt

If you live in Greater Boston*, you need to do this – now.

Do this now, even if you’ve never had a flood before, because we’ve never had snow like this before.

Do this now, even if you believe that the snow won’t melt for weeks to come, because until this year, we’ve never had snow like this arrive at this time before. (And who knows what will take up your time before then.) Continue reading

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Got ice dams?

 

Fill stockings with rock salt - any stockings will do.

Fill stockings with rock salt – any stockings will do. (Photo courtesy of Roma Costume, via Creative Commons, all rights reserved.)

A very brief and unadorned post about ice dams, which lots of people are contacting me about.

This is a very brief primer on what you need to do now, even if the roofer gets all the ice off. After you’ve taken care of the ice dams, be sure to read how to save money by keeping them away. Continue reading

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