How To: Start a Seed with a Biodegradable Pot

There is something incredibly exciting about watching a seed grow. From planting in the soil to seeing the first green sprouts poke out, everyone loves the feeling of success that comes with helping a seed come out of its shell. These seeds can be started in the classroom, and then either planted at school, or sent home with the students to continue growing at home!

A seed doesn’t need much to start. A container to hold it, a bit of soil, some water and light will make it perfectly happy. But where will you get containers for an entire class? A great way is to make seed pots out of newspaper! These biodegradable pots help protect the seed as it grows. Seedlings can then be transplanted outside once they are stronger. The pot, along with its seedling, can be placed in the ground. As the plant grows, the pot will decompose in the soil. Alternatively, if you don't want to make pots, you can cut up cardboard egg cartons to make small seed pots. 

To start a seed indoors, you will need:

  • Seeds
  • Soil
  • Newspaper
  • Toilet paper rolls

To make the seedling pot:

  • Cut newspaper into rectangles that are a few centimeters longer than a toilet paper roll. 
  • Lay the toilet paper roll along the short side of the newspaper rectangle.
  • Roll the newspaper around the roll. Slide the newspaper so that it overhangs the roll. You will need enough overhang to cover the bottom of the pot. 
  • Fold the overhanging newspaper up inside the toilet paper roll, overlapping it or twisting it to create the "bottom" of the pot.
  • Gently remove the paper pot off the roll.
  • Fold over the top edges of the newspaper to ‘lock’ the top rim of the pot.

To plant the seed:

  • Fill the paper or egg carton pot with moist soil.
  • Plant a seed in the soil (check the seed packet for suggested depth).
  • Once the shoot has pushed through the soil, the seedling, soil and biodegradable pot can be placed into a bigger pot with more soil, or into a garden.

And there you have it! You're ready to grow your own plants from seed! Don't forget to share your growing garden story with us and earn a free field trip to Science World.

Ready to take it to the next level? Once your seeds have grown, you can plant them in a garden, like the students at Cobble Hill Elementary! They planted a pollinator paradise!

Fun Fact: Many students will say that both plants and seedlings need soil. The truth is neither really do. A seed has all it's nutrition built in and requires only water, warmth, and oxygen. Plants produce most of their own nutrition through photosynthesis. However, plants can't create the vitamins and minerals they need for growth on top of food they make for energy. The root system of a plant absorbs water, oxygen, vitamins, and minerals from the soil, these are all vital to the plants survival but the 'soil' itself is not.

This activity has strong connections to the Big Ideas in Science.