Monday, March 9, 2015

My Experience with Newspaper Pots

My rookie season of indoor seed starting has been a struggle. My first batch of seedlings damped off. They died of too much water, and because I didn't disinfect my recycled plastic six pack containers. I tossed them in the garbage and tried again. After doing some more research I decided to plant my second batch of seeds in newspaper containers. They are easy to make and I had basically all of my seeds germinate. The seedlings look fantastic and all was well...

Then I noticed some type of gray mildew-looking stuff had started growing on some of the little paper pots. It started at the edge and grew toward the stems.
I asked my local nursery woman and she said it is impossible to tell if it is a beneficial organism or a destructive one. Luckily I didn't have plans for my day yesterday because it turns out it takes a long time to repot 100 plants into red plastic cups.

I gently removed the damp newspaper and scraped off the top soil, then repotted them in potting soil. I noticed that the seedlings that had 2 sets of true leaves had roots which were already starting to penetrate the newspaper. It seems that if you left the seedlings in the paper pots, there may come a time when removing the paper pot would damage the roots. The pots can be place directly in the ground but that gray creeping stuff looked suspicious to me and so out it went.

The Solo plastic cups were rinsed, then I used a nail to poke holes in the bottom. I found it worked best to do 2 cups at once because they were more stable and less likely to collapse and crack. I didn't need a hammer, just used thick gloves and pushed the nail through.
I used a sharpie to label the cups and watered the seedlings thoroughly. 

We have had the most glorious weather the past few days so the seedlings were outside all day. I tell you, Southern California plants have it easy when it comes to the hardening off period. It's not such a shock to go from a 74 degree house to an 80 degree day. Under the patchy shade of our arbor, they had intermittent sun and there was not one casualty. They all made it, even the ones which were just germinating. 

Today they spent the day outside and after one more night indoors I think they'll stay outside. The garden beds are ready. I'm ready. Now the plants need to get a little bigger and into the garden they will go! 

Fingers crossed!


  1. The best thing about the cups is that they are so easy to transplant. Just use a bulb planter. It makes the perfect hole.