How to Sow Seeds
✿ using home-made newspaper pots and a recycled compost scoop ✿

Paper pots are a great way of starting off seeds, even ones that you would usually sow directly in the soil. Although early spring can bring beautiful weather the soil is still cold and wet. By sowing in paper pots, you can protect your seedlings by starting them indoors or somewhere a bit more sheltered. Once your plants are growing away and you can see roots coming through the newspaper, the entire pot can be popped into the soil. The newspaper will biodegrade and the plant will happily grow away!

You will need:
  • A small jar or tin (e.g., a jar of cake sprinkles or tin of tomato paste)
  • Newspaper
  • A clean, empty plastic milk bottle (I’ve used 1L but any size should work)
  • Scissors
How to Sow Seeds (1)

Step 1: Cut the milk bottle in half.  The top half will be the funnel and the bottom half will be the scoop.

How to Sow Seeds (2)

Step 2: Cut a strip of newspaper about 4cm (1.5 inches) wider than your container, and about 40cm (16 inches) long. Experiment a bit to get the best size for the newspaper and container you are using.       

How to Sow Seeds (3)

Step 3: Roll the newspaper around the container.
Don’t roll too tightly.

How to Sow Seeds (4)

Step 4: Start to fold
the excess newspaper over the bottom of your container.

How to Sow Seeds (5)

Step 5: Continue folding
until you have made the bottom of the pot. Press it down firmly but don’t worry if it’s a bit loose—the soil will hold it down.

How to Sow Seeds (6)

Step 6: Slip the newspaper pot off of your container. 

How to Sow Seeds (7)

Step 7: Fill your newspaper pot with compost.
Place the funnel in the top of the pot. Use the scoop to fill it with compost (the funnel may need a wiggle and a tap).  Fill the pots to the top and gently press the soil into place. You don’t want much extra space at the top or the pot will start to collapse.

How to Sow Seeds (8)

Step 8: Sow your seeds.
For small seeds use the ‘pinch and sprinkle’ method shown here, sprinkling 3-4 seeds in each pot. For larger seeds, make a hole with your finger and drop the seed in. Some seeds will want to be a few centimetres deep and others will want to be right near the top—be sure to read the packet.

How to Sow Seeds (9)

Step 9: Water your seeds from the bottom by standing them in a tray of water for 15 minutes or so. This will ensure the compost is evenly watered, and will prevent small seeds from being washed away.

How to Grow Seeds (10)

Step 10: When the roots have started to grow through the newspaper it’s time to plant your plant, newspaper pot and all.
Make sure the compost in the paper pot is level with the soil and water it in well.

Text and photos by W Crowder 2020. Developed for Harbury Seed Share and Earthworms School Gardening Club.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA.