The Natural Living Site

Simple, Self-Reliant, Sustainable Living

Category: Gardening (page 1 of 2)

Grow More Vegetables in Less Space with Succession Planting

lettuce garden


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© 2014 Shanna Lea

Did you know that you can grow more vegetables throughout the season, even if all you have is a small corner in your yard? You can get the most use out of small spaces by using the succession planting method. Continue reading

What’s the Difference Between a Kitchen Garden and a Regular Vegetable Garden?



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© 2014 Shanna Lea

Do you know what the difference is between a “kitchen garden” and a regular vegetable garden?

Kitchen gardens, or potagers (pronounced puh-ta-zhay), are edible gardens that have a rich history going back to French and old English gardens.  Kitchen gardens are planted with herbs, edible flowers, fruits and vegetables that are tucked right outside the back door for ease of gathering while you are cooking. Continue reading

3 Gardening Tips You Need To Know

sugar snap peas on trellis photo by Doug Beckers

sugar snap peas on trellis photo by Doug Beckers


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© 2014 Shanna Lea

I think the best thing about summer is biting into a fresh picked tomato, still warm from the sun.  I love the taste of the juice bursting in my mouth from that first bite.  By growing your own garden, you can experience this little piece of heaven all summer long.

However, to harvest an abundance of veggies year after year, it takes practice.  To become successful consistently, you need hands-on experience.  Here are 3 tips from gardening pros that have shared what you need to know. Continue reading

Learn Survival Skills at the Online Survival Summit

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© 2013 Shanna Lea

On Monday, January 20th, an online event called  The Survival Summit’, will be available for you to watch.  This FREE five-day online training event will feature 25 of the world’s experts on Survival and Self Reliance, teaching online classes on topics you need to know to survive disasters by planning ahead and learning specific skills.

Here is just a sample of what you will learn:

  • Develop a STRONG detailed Plan for Property Security and Threat Planning, water, energy and fuel systems and Self-Reliant Food production and storage
  • Train your mind to think clearly in an emergency situation
  • How to grow food, even in an arid climate
  • Off-grid cooking without power
  • How to survive a nuclear event
  • How to set up your property for off-grid water and energy
  • Protect your crops from pests by learning trapping secrets
  • How to make your own bio-diesel fuels
  • How to protect your loved ones in an emergency
  • How to preserve food when your stove and freezer stops working
  • Native American techniques for preserving meat in the winter
  • How to forage for food and medicinal plants in a city
  • Herbal remedies and off-grid medical knowledge for emergencies and traumatic injuries
  • Top 5 Bug Out Mistakes
  • Alternative Dentistry
  • Composting
  • How to build and use a root cellar

There will be 25 of the top experts in the field presenting at this 5-day online event, running January 20-26, 2014.  But only those that register now will have access to it.  Click here to learn more and be sure to register after watching the video.



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Christmas and Yule Gifts for Homesteading and Self-Reliance

homestead cabin Christmas image by Rebecca Proch

homestead cabin Christmas image by Rebecca Proch


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© 2013 Shanna Lea

Christmas and Yule are great times to give gifts for homesteaders that will be appreciated and used all year ‘round.  Any tool or new skill that can be learned is essential for leading a self-reliant lifestyle, especially in our world today with our economy.  Always invest in the best tools you can afford, because it is really more cost effective to have quality tools than cheap, poorly made ones, especially where safety is a concern.

There are endless ideas for gifts for homesteaders.  Anything for the barn or the workshop is always welcomed and appreciated.  Bridles, milking pails, tools, saws, books, solar and wind energy products are good starts.  For others, building new skill sets are a dream come true—learning to spin wool, or weave, quilting, sewing or crochet.  Woodcarving, metal working, blacksmithing and leatherwork are more skills that are fun to learn and sometimes essential for self-reliance.

And, there are gifts of yourself to give—like homemade coupons to give for doing a chore for your loved one.  It could be for weeding, cleaning the chicken coop, taking care of the animal chores, like milking, or bringing in the firewood.  Print up a handmade coupon and give with a mug of tea or cocoa.

Or, give to a family in need.  Through Heifer International you can give a goat, cow, chickens and endless other gifts to families who cannot afford them but desperately need them for survival.

Check out the list below for other gifts for homesteaders and surprise the special people in your life with a gift they will use all year.

Make or Buy a Solar Oven

Cooking with the Sun:  How to Build and Use Solar Cookers

All American Sun Oven—World’s Best Solar Oven

Foxfire Complete Collection Book Set—Books 1-12

Buy the entire set or individually.  Subjects range from hog dressing, mountain crafts and foods, hide tanning, wild plant foods, blacksmithing, flintlock rifles, spinning and weaving, and much more.  A favorite collection for many homesteaders for how things used to be done.

Wood Burning Stove

Vogelzang TR008 Durango EPA Wood Stove

Solar Charger for Phones and Tablets

Portable Solar Charger—StrongVolt SOLAR:10

Charges iPhones, Androids, Tablets, eReaders

Power and Hand Tools and Technical Books

Stanley 65 Piece General Homeowner’s Tool Set

For Her—Apollo Precision Tools 39 Piece Pink General Tool Set

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool

Seville Classics UltraHD Lighted Workbench

Dewalt 8Amp 3/8Inch Mid-Handle Grip Drill Kit with Keyless Chuck

SKIL 7.2 Volt Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver

Dewalt 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw

Dewalt Bare-Tool 6 1/2Inch 18 Volt Cordless Circular Saw

Dewalt DWE575SB 7 ¼ Inch Lightweight Circular Saw with Electric Brake

For the Milking Parlor/Barn

Kuchenprofi 18/10 Stainless Steel Funnel with Filter  –use for straining milk, grease… etc

Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats

The Family Cow

Indipets Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Pail—for milking

For the Garden

Worm Factory 360 Worm Composter

Beehive Mann Lake 10 Frame Traditional Basic Starter Kit

Honey Extractor–  Mann Lake 2 Frame Plastic Extractor

The Beekeeper’s Bible:  Bees, Honey, Recipes and Other Home Uses

Living Wall Planter by Woolly Pocket

The Garden Tower:  The Composting 50 Plant Organic Container Garden

Algreen 34002 Garden View Vertical Living Wall Planter

Last Thoughts

Other ideas include making up a medicinal/first aid or emergency preparedness goodie basket.   Or knitting/crochet /quilting or other crafting lessons—these always come in handy on a homestead.  A membership to local CSA or farmers markets and conference tickets to meet a favorite guru in the natural living movement, perhaps like Joel Salatin.

Gift cards to hardware stores or farm and ranch supply stores are always appreciated.  And if that special someone knows how to do a skill or is passionate about food, homesteading or gardening, help them get started with a website so they can share their knowledge with others, teaching these core values to future generations.

Be sure to check out The Natural Living Site’s Resource Page for more products.

And remember  –Amazon has coupons!  Be sure to check for a coupon for your wished for items while visiting the site.



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SEED: The Untold Story Video Trailer

SEED:  The Untold Story

SEED: The Untold Story


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© 2013 Shanna Lea

Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz are producing a new documentary coming out in 2014 called SEED:  The Untold Story.  This may be one of the most important films made.

In the past 100 years we have lost 94% percent of our seed diversity.

Think about that.  That is a huge loss of diverse foods that our ancestors ate.

This feature-length documentary brings us the story of seed through our 12,000-year relationship with seeds.  Many of these irreplaceable seeds are near extinction and we are in a huge battle for their future—which is our future.


“If you want to control a country, control the oil.  If you want to control the people, control the food.” 

~ ~ ~ Henry Kissinger


 “If you want to control the food, control the seed.” 

~ ~ ~ Dr. Vandana Shiva



This film takes on a journey to “doomsday” seed vaults, we meet seed savers and indigenous tribes—all who are striving to protect seeds.  Watch the movie trailer below for a preview of what will be in the film.


SEED:  The Untold Story


Click here to go to SEED: The Untold Story’s Website



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Harvest Your Health Bundle 7 Day Sale: 71+ eBooks ( over $1000 Value) for only $37



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© 2013 Shanna Lea

Todd Dosenberry from has harvested a huge eBook bundle to give you the biggest bundle sale offered so far.  He handpicked 71 ebooks, 3 magazine subscriptions and 14 fitness plans for the Harvest Your Health Bundle sale set to start October 7-14, 1 week only !


Nutrition is one of the most important factors of living healthy, but you also need other lifestyle changes to make life meaningful.  These include sleep, skin care, fitness, play, and simple, intentional living.






How will the Harvest Your Health bundle benefit YOU?  These books will help you to….

  • Cook and prepare paleo food
  • Paleo snacks
  • Grain free lunches for the lunchbox
  • A paleo Thanksgiving
  • Eat paleo on a budget
  • Paleo shopping guide
  • Kale recipes
  • Restock your pantry
  • Make ice cream
  • Make broth
  • Garden in an apartment
  • Feed your cats a whole raw foods diet
  • Make simple salves
  • Skin care treatments
  • What questions to ask your dentist
  • Natural cleaning
  • Fertility yoga program
  • How to take care of your children’s health
  • Train your dog to do yoga
  • How to run with no pain
  • Live simply in 30 days
  • Common sense health
  • 70 ways to detox
  • plus magazines and discounts

What is the Harvest Your Health Bundle?

  • 71 ebooks + 3 magazine subscriptions, 14 fitness plans and discount codes
  • On sale for 7 days—October 7-14
  • Sale price of only $37—95% savings of the total value!

Important notes

  • The sale ends on Monday, October 14
  • Click on the links to the ebooks to learn more about them




Cooking/Preparing Paleo Food 

  • Paleo Everyday (8.99) by Heather
  • Paleogasm ($30) by Camille Macres
  • Paleo Snack Recipes ($17) by Suz Crawt
  • Paleo Chocolate ($4.99) by Ben Hirshberg
  • Paleo Ice Cream ($5.99) by Ben Hirshberg
  • Gluten Free Pancakes ($4.99) by Jolene Sloam
  • The Grain Free Lunchbox ($9.95) by Jolene Sloam
  • 30 Day Intro to Paleo ($20) by Bill and Hayley Staley
  • A Paleo Pumpkin Thanksgiving ($5) by George Bryant
  • Toadally Primal Smoothies ($9.99) by Todd Dosenberry
  • Baking with Coconut Flour ($18.95) by Starlene Stewart
  • Well Fed:  Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat ($14.95) by Melissa Joulwan
  • FastPaleo Top 100 of 2012 with bonuses ($14.97) by James Gregory and Ute Mitchell
  • Primal Tightwad:  Maximizing Your Health on a Minimal Budget ($14.95) by Carolyn Rush
  • The Modern No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo:  Shopping, Kitchens, Lunches ($10) by Alison Golden

Cooking/Preparing Real Food

  • Crock on Cookbook ($5) by Stacy
  • Crazy for Kale ($5.99) by Hallie Klecker
  • Super Cruciferous ($6) by Stormy Sweitzer
  • Real Food Hits the Road ($14.95) Millie
  • Apartment Gardening ($5.95) by Jami Leigh
  • Restocking the Pantry ($10) by Kresha Faber
  • Just Making Ice Cream ($12) by Marilyn Beard
  • Broth:  Elixer of Life ($12.97) by Patricia Lacoss-Arnold
  • Raw Fed Cats:  Feeding Cats a Diet of Whole Raw Foods  ($9.99) by Linda Zurich
  • Back to School Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes ($4.99) by Stephanie Brandt Cornais
  • The Veggie Book:  How to Pick, Prepare and Plate ($9.95) by Danielle Tate, Debra Worth, Sara Shay and Kayla Grey

Meal Plans

  • 3 months of Paleo Meal Plans ($29.97) by Deliciously Organic
  • 4 months of Plan to Eat Meal Planner ($19.80) by the Plan to Eat team
  • 2 months of PrimalPal Membership ($9.99) by Chad and Chris (with several contributors)

Personal/Home Care (Skin, Hair, Teeth, Cleaning)

  • Clear for Life ($27) by Seppo Puusa
  • Salve Made Simple ($7.95) by Jennifer
  • My Buttered Life:  Gift Edition ($5) by Renee Harris
  • Cure Your Skin Compulsions ($19.95) by Tracy Raftl
  • Natural Cleaning ($15) by Katie—The Wellness Mama
  • Ultimate Secrets to Acne Freedom ($29) by Tracy Raftl
  • My Buttered Life:  Summer Edition ($5) by Renee Harriss
  • Simple Scrubs to Make and Give ($3.99) by Stacey Karen
  • Homemade Health and Beauty ($4.99) by Sandra Calixto
  • My Buttered Life:  Personal Care Edition ($5) by Renee Harriss
  • Questions to Ask your Dentist Handbook ($29) by Will & Susan Revak
  • The Holistic Mama’s Guide to Homemade Skincare ($19) by Roxanne King
  • Tips and Tricks to Remineralize and Repair Your Teeth ($12.95) by Ramiel Nagel
  • Awaken Your Roots:  Secrets of a Master Hair Shaman ($29.95) by Anthony Morrocco

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Fertility, Pregnancy, Babies, Children, Motherhood

  • First Bites ($9.99) by Hilary Kimes Bernstein
  • Birth Control Unlocked ($14) by Stefani Ruper
  • Fertilise Yourself ($19.95) by Natalie Kringoudis
  • Fertility Yoga Program ($9.99) by Hethir Rodriguez
  • Eat Your Way to Parenthood ($35) by Gabriela Rosa
  • My Buttered Life:  Baby Edition ($5) by Renee Harris
  • A Practical Guide to Children’s Health ($17.95) by Kate Tietje
  • From Maiden to Motherhood ($6.99) by Stephanie Brandt Cornais
  • Mother’s Little Herbal Helper and Home Remedies ($12.50) by Natalie Vickery
  • Real Food Kids:  In the Kitchen plus videos ! ($30) by Wardee Harmon and Jami Delgado


  • The Paleo Miracle ($19.99) by Joe Salama
  • Primal Deliverance ($14.97) by James Gregory
  • Building Incredible Willpower by Dean Dwyer ($25) by Dean Dwyer


  • Bodyweight Overload ($19.99) by Todd
  • Run with No Pain ($17) by Ben Greenfield
  • Sandbag Training ($6.99) by Ben Hirshberg
  • Dog Yoga with The Lightfoot Way ($10) by Allison Culver
  • Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness ($20) (1 month for 1 penny) by Sarah & John Fragoso and Jason Seib


Intentional/Simple Living

  • 25 Intentional Days ($25) by Andrew Miller
  • Inside-Out Simplicity ($2.99) by Joshua Becker
  • One Bite at a Time:  52 Projects for Making Life Simpler ($5) by Tsh
  • Simple Living:  30 Days to Less Stuff and More Life ($2.99) by Lorilee Lippincott


  • Diet Recovery 2 ($9.99) by Matt Stone
  • The Vegan Solution ($9.99) by Matt Stone
  • Exuberant Animal ($9.99) by Frank Forencich
  • Common Sense Health ($8.95) by Laurie Neverman
  • Change Your Body, Change the World ($9.99) by Frank Forencich
  • A Brief Guide to Intuitive and Mindful Eating ($2.99) by Ben Hirshberg
  • 21 Life Lessons from Livin’ La Vida Low Carb ($15) by Jimmy Moore
  • Sow, Planting the Seeds for Health, Well Being and a Superhero Life ($5.55) by Joe Rignola


  • 21 Day Paleo Cleanse ($25) by Neely Quinn
  • Detoxification:  70 Ways to Cleanse, Clear & Purify Your Body, Space and Life ($9.99) by Linda Zurich

Online Magazine Subscriptions

  • Paleo Magazine (12 months—6 issues) ($29.95) by Cain
  • Paleo Living Magazine (3 months—7 issues) by Jeremy Hendon
  • Healthy Recipes Magazine 3 Month Trial (7 issues) by Jeremy Hendon



  • The Bos Life—Meat
  • 10% off OraWellness
  • 25% off Squatty Potty
  • 20% off Chomp Sticks
  • 15% of Louise’s Foods
  • 10% off Culture for Health
  • 10% off Paleo on the Go
  • 20% off Primal Pit Paste
  • 20% off Tisano Chocolate
  • 20% off Vintage Tradition
  • 30% off Kasandrinos olive oil
  • 15% off Nikki’s Coconut Butter
  • 50% off PrimalPal for 6 or 12 months
  • $65 off PaleoFit/PaleoPlan for 12 months
  • $100 off 12 month package from Dietitian Cassie
  • 20% off Wild Mountain Paleo Store—Seafood isle
  • 15% off Redmong Trading (real salt, earthpaste, etc)
  • $30 off a $100+ purchase from






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Day 16 Sit Spot Challenge—Where Does Your Water Come From?

Playa lake image by agrilifetoday

Playa lake image by agrilifetoday


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© 2013 Shanna Lea

Today, I decided to explore further out from my neighborhood.  I drove around the back roads in the country outside of the city.  I drove past several playa lakes and just watched for a bit before moving on down the road.

Playa lakes are important to the whole ecosystem for all of us here on the Texas High Plains.  They are circular, shallow wetlands filled by rainfall and irrigation run-off and can average 15-30 acres or more in size.  Playas is a Spanish word, meaning “beach”, and there are over 21,000 playa lakes in Texas and New Mexico.   Because of constant changing conditions, they can be wet or dry at any time of the year, and all plants and wildlife have to be adaptable to these changes.

Playa lakes support an abundance of invertebrates, plants like smartweeds and millets and are a haven for birds, ducks and wildlife.  Migrating birds, such as cranes, shorebirds and other waterfowl use playa lakes to ‘re-fuel’ on their routes to the Gulf Coast or further south where they over-winter.  The noise from huge flocks of cranes or geese can be deafening when they circle in or take off from resting and feeding at a playa lake.

Playa lakes are critical to recharging the Ogallala Aquifer, a huge underground water source for all of the Plains.

Ogallala Aquifer image by rebuildingdemocracy

Ogallala Aquifer image by rebuildingdemocracy


The water seeps from the playa lakes down through cracks in the ground below through the clay lining.  After rainfall, the clay swells shut and becomes impermeable, holding the water in the lake until it seeps down into the aquifer again.  The playas are critical to recharging 95% of the southern part of the aquifer.


“We know the value of water when the well runs dry.” – Benjamin Franklin


Today, the playa lakes are threatened, due to alteration from poor farming and ranching practices, road construction, agricultural chemicals, and sedimentation.  They cannot keep up with the recharging needed for the Ogallala Aquifer, which is also decreasing due to irrigation use, which provides enormous amounts of grain for feedlots.  Hydroelectric-power generation is another big user of water from the aquifer.  This once pure, and what we thought was an unlimited source of water, is threatened by toxic waste dumps, cesspools, landfills and the sheer volume of agricultural chemicals that leach into the groundwater.

…………We are running out of water.

With agriculture using 70% of the water to grow grain for cattle in feedlots that are designed to eat grass, clearly we need a change in how we produce our food and how we use our precious resources.  Sustainable farming, ranching and permaculture methods are going to have to be our future, if we are to survive here.

Where does YOUR water come from?  Explore further out from your neighborhood and make a bigger map in your Nature Journal, including the source of water for where you live.


Panhandle Playa Lakes

Playa Lakes

The Ogallala Aquifer

Kamana One Exploring Natural Mystery from the Wilderness Awareness School

Water:  A Natural History by Alice Outwater



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How to Use Leftover Egg Shells

Norpro Stainless Steel Compost Keeper

Norpro Stainless Steel Compost Keeper


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© 2013 Shanna Lea (formerly Shanna Ohmes)

Have you ever wondered what to do with the leftover egg shells after the kids’ Easter egg hunt, or after making a batch of deviled eggs for Thanksgiving or Christmas?  I know I’ve looked at them and wondered what I could with them and then felt guilty for throwing them away.  Well, there are many uses for those eggshells.  Some of the uses listed below require crushed egg shells.  This is easy to do, just use a mortar and pestle, a blender, coffee grinder or food processor to crush them.  You can also bake the eggshell halves to dry them and eliminate any (small) risk of salmonella poisoning.

How to Use Leftover Egg Shells:

  • Start seedlings—If the egg shells are intact halves, fill them with your starter soil and plant the seeds.  Mist with water.  Keep them in the egg carton, cover loosely with a produce bag, and keep moist.  When the seedlings emerge from the soil, transplant them into the garden.  The nutrients give them a boost as they decompose.
  • Soil amendment—add crushed egg shells to tomato plants or roses and give them a calcium boost.
  • Use as a cleaner—egg shells can clean away the nasty’s from hummingbird feeders, vases, thermos canisters, tea pots, garbage disposals and more.  Crush the egg shells, add a little water and scour or fill the container and shake.  Rinse and let the containers dry well.
  • Scour pots and pans—add crushed egg shells and dish soap to pots and pans to scour away that baked-on mess.
  • Egg Shell Art—dye the crushed egg shells with watercolor paint.  Make mosaic art with it!
  • Deter pests—crushed egg shells sprinkled around the base of your garden plants deters pests such as snails and slugs.
  • Jell-O or Candle molds—line a muffin pan with foil, then wash and dry intact eggshell halves and set them upright in the pan.  To make Jell-O, follow the package directions and pour into the mold.  To make candles, pour the molten candle wax into the mold, and insert the wick.  Let it set up and then peel off the foil.
  • Add them to the compost kitchen keeper pail or compost pile—as long as you’ve used natural dyes on them.  The Norpro Stainless Steel Compost Keeper fits right on your kitchen cabinet, is handy to throw scraps in while you are preparing food, and looks great in the kitchen.
  • Coffee sweetener—add clean, crushed egg shells in with the coffee grounds before brewing.  You get added calcium and the eggshells cut the acidic taste.  Afterwards, throw the coffee grounds and the eggshells into the flower beds, flowers love it!
  • Make a chia egg shell—grow chia or grass seed in the egg shell halves.  Draw a person or pet on the shell.
  • Unclog drains—add the crushed eggshells to the sink trap, it helps to open the drains.  Every time you run the water, calcium carbonate leaches through to keep the drain clean.
  • Boost calcium in your broth or vinegar—add egg shells to the broth when it is simmering or add crushed shells to vinegar.  The shells dissolve in the vinegar after a few weeks and add calcium to it.
  • Feed back to your chickens, dogs or birds—just bake at 250 ° til dry, crush and then add into chicken feed, the dog food or sprinkle on the ground for birds.
  • Feed the worms!—if you have a worm bin, add the crushed eggshells in with the other scraps.  The worms need the ‘grit’ for their gizzards.


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Seed Starting–How to Make Paper Pots Out of Newspaper

The New Seed-Starters Handbook

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©2012 Shanna Lea (formerly Shanna Ohmes)

Have you ever wanted to start your own seeds?  Seed-starting is easy and fun and you can make your own paper pots to start them in!  Recycling newspapers to make seed pots will use up that pile of newspapers you’ve saved and they will decompose in the ground when you plant your new seedlings, adding compost into your soil.

Many seedlings transfer well from their first pot and going directly into the soil.  But there are some like squashes and watermelons that don’t like their roots disturbed, so growing them in a paper pot and transferring the seedling, pot and all, is less traumatic for them.

Paper pots are easy to make and within a few minutes you will have a full flat made up ready to plant your first seeds!

How to Make Paper Pots Out of Newspaper

Materials needed:


Tin can (soup can, tomato paste can…) the size of can determines the size of pot

  • Cut one page off from a section of newspaper
  • Fold the page in thirds, lengthwise
  • Cut the thirds into 3 long strips—this is enough to make 3 pots

To make the paper pot:

  • Lay the tin can at one end of the paper strip, leaving an inch of paper not covered by the can
  • Wrap the end of the strip around the can, and roll up towards the top
  • When its rolled up, hold onto the side seam as you fold the ends on the top of the can inward
  • Place the top end with the folded edges down on the table and press hard to crease the paper into place
  • Slide the can out of the paper pot
  • Fold the top edge to the inside to secure the side seam
  • Now you have your paper pot!

Starting Seeds

  • Fill the paper pots with soil
  • Plant the seeds in the pots
  • Place the pots in a plastic tray
  • Do not water the pots… pour water in the tray (about ½ inch deep), and the water will soak into the paper pots

Plantings the Seedlings

  • Dig a hole the size of the paper pot
  • Place the pot in the ground
  • Cover with dirt.  Be sure to cover the top of the paper pot so water does not evaporate from the pot.  Make sure all paper is covered.

Good luck on a new season of gardening!

Enjoy this video by Dave’s Garden on how to make paper pots from newspapers.

Dave’s Garden:  Gardening:  Making Paper Pots


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