Care and Maintenance of Newspaper Seed Starters

08 May
Care and Maintenance of Newspaper Seed Starters

Welcome new followers to my blog. Recently, Billy Albertson and I had the privilege of speaking to students at Crabapple Middle School.

Here’s a BIG Shout Out to all of the students we met !!!


Crabapple students waiting patiently to make seed starters

One never knows what type of students they will encounter on these trips. Sometimes, we encounter a class filled with unruly folk, those who aren’t interested in learning; but not at Crabapple. It seemed like the more Billy and I shared about gardening, the more they wanted to know.

Here’s a BIG THANK YOU to all the students. You were great !!!

Now, for those who missed class, or want to learn how to make your own newspaper seed starter, here is a link to my blog post. Truly, this little project takes only a few minutes. Of course, I had my trusty seeds from Botanical Interests (available locally at Pike’s). Botanical Interests does an excellent job of including clear instructions on how to grow the seeds you purchase. However, the seeds at Crabapple are still in the teacher’s rooms. You can either take them home or plant them in the school garden.

Also, remember that I took a group photo with each class. I can only post those if the school has a signed permission slip on file. Once I’m certain your parent has signed a release, I’ll post more pictures.


Farmer Sophie

So, what’s the next step with your seeds?

CMS Go Green Day1

A new farmer in the making

When will my seed sprout?

Pick one weekday to water your plants. Let’s use Wednesday for example. Each week on Wednesday measure one tablespoon of water and pour it directly onto the dirt (or plant if it has sprouted). Using more water will make your seed rot. For those who planted corn, watermelon or pumpkin seeds remember those seeds take a little bit longer to sprout. (like fourteen days). Please do not give up on the seeds. The weather has been unseasonably cold, AND, we have seen very little sun.

CMS Go Green Day5

Crabapple student eager to lend a hand.

Seeds need three things: sun, warm temperatures, and water. Give the seeds a bit of extra time before giving up on them. If possible, place the newspaper starter in a window where the sun can reach the plant.

CMS Go Green Day 6

Soon these will be ready to plant.

After the seedling breaks through the soil and displays a couple leaves, start thinking about where you want to plant. For those living in an apartment or subdivision, you can still grow beans and peas inside a plastic planter. If you do not have a planter, please let me know. I will bring some to your school. There is no need to buy an expensive pot. You can pick one up at the Dollar Tree. The important part is to get a large container that is 8 to 10 inches. Vegetables have deep roots.

Where do I plant my seedling?

Some plants, like beans, will grow in partial shade. Others require full sun. Here is list of where to plant.

Vegetable:                                          Where it likes to grow:

Beans                                                I will grow in partial shade, and/or sun.

Peas                                                  I will grown in partial shade and/or sun

Corn                                                   I must have full sun

Pumpkins                                            I prefer full sun and room to grow

Watermelon                                         I prefer full sun and room to grow

Pepper plants                                       I will grow in partial shade and/or full sun

How do I plant my seedling?CMS Go Green Day 2

Those planting directly into the dirt need only to dig a hole in the ground, (approximately 6 inches across and 3 inches deep. Break up the soil, place the newspaper seedling in the dirt. Cover and your’re done.

Plastic container instructions:

Fill a plastic container half-full of dirt. Wet the newspaper seed-starter until all of the paper is very wet.

Dig out a hole in the dirt.

Place the entire newspaper planter in the dirt.

Cover the newspaper with dirt (leave the tiny plant sticking out).

CMS Go Green Day3

Another seed planted 🙂

Water well. Then watch the plant grow.

Little known fact about the corn:

For those who planted corn let me tell you about it. My great-grandfather Lum Winchester, who died when I was eighteen years old, grew that corn. He once lived in Rabun County Georgia with his wife’s family, who were the Ridley’s. Back then, you didn’t go to the store for garden supplies. People saved their seed. The seed you planted has been in my family for many generations. It is not genetically modified.

Some people call it “field corn,” others call it “dent corn” because on the end of each kernel there is a small indentation or “dent.” This particular variety grows very tall, almost fifteen feet tall. While you can eat it fresh, with butter, the corn is best dried and ground into cornmeal or grits. Fresh corn will not be sweet like you are used to. This variety is highly prized in the Low Country for grits. Of course the Low Country is famous for shrimp and grits.

So how can I make cornmeal? Allow the corn to dry on the stalks. Eventually the outside will yellow and get very hard. After that happens send me an email at reneawrites(at) and I’ll make sure we convert your corn into meal.

This corn also makes excellent animal food. Since it has not been genetically modified, it is safe for everyone to eat. I think my great grandfather is happy you are willing to grow it.

Renea reading from her book about Billy titled: In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes. Copies available locally at BOOKMISER.

Renea reading from her book about Billy titled: In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes. Copies available locally at BOOKMISER.

For those who don’t have a lot of land, corn can also be grown in big buckets.(Think one of those Home Depot Orange Buckets.

Corn requires FULL SUN and a lot of water during the summer. But, y’all are Crabapple students; you can do anything!

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of  In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. In 2012 she released Stress-Free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. 2014 will see the release of In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is currently working on her first novel. She would love to hear from you. Visit her at

Copies of her book are available locally at Bookmiser.


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