Pot press

Adding earth to a finished newspaper pot, using a wood press.

It’s that time of year. Spring is just around the corner (it is coming, we swear!). Our friend Samuel Rio of Dirty Hands Garden Design stopped by to offer some rules of (green) thumb on readying your plants for warmer climes.

For those with a garden, late winter and early spring are ideal times to prune shrubs and trees, because they haven’t begun to invest their stored energy in buds. If you didn’t clean up in the fall – here’s your second chance: Leaf litter, perennial remnants, tattered hammocks and so forth can all be cleared away. Top dress your plot of land with an organically rich compost. If applied every year, this modest soil amendment will prime your plants for healthy spring foliage and blooms.

Samuel Rio portrait

Samuel Rio of Dirty Hands Garden Design.

Another idea is to make individual seed cups out of newspaper five to six weeks before the last projected frost dates. These can be planted directly in the ground. We use vegetable dye newsprint to prevent any contamination of the plant or soil. (A good way to tell: if the ink doesn’t rub off on your hands it’s safe.) Magazines aren’t recommended because they’re too glossy, won’t drain water sufficiently and could potentially contain chemical dyes. Sam walked us through the steps, using our beech wood paper pot press.

1- Cut newspaper into strips of roughly 6 ½ inches high by 15 ½ inches long. Fold each evenly in half. Take one piece of paper and wrap tightly around handle press with the folded seam edge closer to your hand (that will end up being the rim of your pot, so you want it to be nice and neat).

2- Once paper is wrapped entirely around the press cylinder, fold all four corners down, like wrapping a present. Guide onto groove of base, press down firmly and twist back and forth until the bottom “seals” from the pressure and forms a flat surface.

3- Slip paper pot off handle and fill ¾ of the way with soil. Gently press down on the soil. Add a seed (one per pot), followed by another thin layer of soil on top. Place the seedlings in a sunny window, preferably south facing.

Choice plants to start indoors are annual ornamental flowers, tomatoes, squash, peppers and beans, but any plant, ornamental or edible, can benefit from a head start. Watch them grow!

Do you have any more spring gardening tips? 

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One Comment

  1. Hollis Blackwood
    Posted March 22, 2015 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

    Special way to water? Special type of tray underneath paper pots? Then what? Please don't leave us hanging……. Too vague

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