Hello Spring! – DIY shredded paper Seed Starters

by Dana on April 11, 2011

That title’s a mouthful, sorry.
Have you planted spring flowers?
Here in Texas, when April rolls around the wildflowers pop up everywhere–along the highways, the side of a road, in a ditch, in huge grassy fields. It’s just lovely.
Naturally, the term “wildflower” means they grow wild. In fact, some are nothing more than weed flowers–which is rather sweet, like a diamond in the rough. But a few of these flowers are seeded annually along our Texas highways, which means you can also plant them at home in a flower pot. The local deer enjoy them too.
I searched Home Depot and Walmart for wildflower seed packs and found nothin. Then on a whim, I noticed this huge pack of wildflower seeds in the dollar section at Target….and these cute little seed planters. All for $3?! We’ve got enough seeds now to last a few years.
With our cheap little finds, the kids and I came home to work on a seed planting project together. But first, we needed our secret ingredient….

Shredded Paper Seed Starters:
Made of recycled paper shreds and tissue paper (for color), you throw the seeds on top when the starters are wet, let them dry, and then plant them in a pot! Of course, you can easily just plant seeds in the soil. But the seed starters are just too cute and they act as mulch to help your seeds grow. We learned about these at our local library over Spring Break.

Okay, here’s what you do…
Grab some recycled copy paper shreds and tissue paper to give it color.
Use equal amounts of white paper and tissue paper and place it in a bowl.
Pour water to the mix and stir it around with your fingers (you may want to wear laytex gloves if using a dark tissue color. The green tainted my skin a bit, but just for the day). Use your fingers to pull the shreds into small pieces. The longer the paper sits in the water, the easier it will be to pull apart and the colors will blend together. When everything is soft, drain out the water (just use your hand to keep the paper from falling out and tip the water out.)
Grab cookie cutters to create fun shapes for the seed starters.
NOTE: you can also roll the mulch into balls with the seeds hidden inside and call them seed balls!
Then you need a flat surface for squeezing the water out of the shape and into a bowl. You can use a flat strainer, a pizza pan with holes, or a pasta strainer (like I used here).
Place the strainer over the bowl, with the cookie cutter inside. Then grab some wet paper mulch and place it in the cookie cutter.
You only need a few clumps of paper, since the seed starter doesn’t need to be very thick–just thick enough that it holds its shape when you take the cookie cutter off.

When the paper is evenly spread in the cookie cutter, use your hand to push and squeeze out as much water as you can. I also used a paper towel to squeeze and sop up the extra water.
Then pop the paper starter out and you have a pretty shape!
Place it on a piece of cardboard or a paper plate to dry. You want to use something that absorbs water–rather than a glass plate–so it will dry faster.
Keep going with this method till you’ve used up the paper mulch and made multiple starters.
Then, add seeds!

You can use any type of seed for this project. Always read the back of the packet for info about planting and growing in your area.
Place the seeds on top. We definitely used more seeds than we’ll ever need. But eh, it was fun for the kids (and me) to smother them on top.
Let the seed starters dry out for a few days. They’ll dry faster in the warm sun but make sure it’s not a windy day or your seeds will blow away!

When dried up, the starters look like this–and feel like light-weight hockey pucks:
Now you’re ready to plant.
We used a seed starting soil mix to fill the bottom 1/2 of the pot.
Then we placed the paper seed starters inside:
And covered the top with more soil.
“Planting is fun!
(did Owen eat some dirt?)
We gave them a bit of water and placed them in the warm sun by our front door. The kids have been anxious for the seeds to start growing. This was my one concern with the project–that their patience and interest would wear off since the seed packet said it could take a few weeks for plants to grow.
But lo and behold! 5 days later, some buds have started!
Two little green plants.
The kids and I were thrilled. We’ll keep watering and sun bathing the little guys till they’re big enough to move into a larger pot. And one day, they might look something like this:
Happy Spring Monday!
If you’re a green thumb and have tips for everyone, please share with us in the comments!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marnie March 20, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Adorable!

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2 Jeri Hansen April 23, 2013 at 5:35 pm

I have so may wild flower seeds I like it.

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3 Sarah March 26, 2012 at 11:17 am

I love these so much! Thank you for sharing them!

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4 Josie Guerra March 30, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Thank you for sharing! I pinned this to my Summer Camp board on pinterest!

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5 Cecily September 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Hi! I love the idea of these and want to use these for my wedding favours if you don’t mind? One question: do you have to let the paper dry out for a bit before you put the seeds on or should you put the seeds on the top straight away?

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6 Cathy Milne March 4, 2013 at 6:56 pm

What a great idea! Your kids are getting so big. I love Celebrate the Boy site.
Also thanks for the great recipes.

I will be adding this to my Web site: http://Raggs2Baggz.com

Ta Ta for now, Cathy the Bagg Lady!

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7 LaProfesoraFrida April 28, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Super cute idea! :)

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8 sue tolkkinen July 24, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Thanks for sharing! Just what I was looking for. A great use for the shred paper I can’t seem to throw out. I love how you involved the kiddos in gardening.

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