Getting the kids outside and helping in the backyard might seem like a daunting task sometimes. The little ones love the dirt, the mud, the water-hose and the sun – but they’re not always so keen on weeding and backyard chores.

As parents, we sometimes have to get tricky, and in this case, it’ll keep the kids entertained, engaged and save you some dollar in the process. All you need?

  • A Pile of Old Newspaper
  • A Muffin Tin
  • Water
  • A Blender

That’s right – we’re going to make paper pulp! More specifically, we’re going to make paper pulp cups to start your seedlings in.

Wait?! You’re thinking – it’s the middle of summer, I don’t need seedlings! Changes are, if you’re an herb gardener (or thinking about becoming one) or a lettuce lover or anything of the like, it’s time to grow another batch (because your mint just didn’t survive the summer sun, or because your salad hankering lately has left you with less greens that you thought.)

Whatever the reason, it’s good to get another crop of some of your favorites growing so you’ll have fresh snacks well into the fall! So why not get the kids involved in backyard farming for their dinner.

To make it happen, do this:

  1. Cut the newspaper into large strips. You’re not shredding here, just making it easier to shove into a bucket of water. You can even have the kids help by ripping. You’ll want to have a fair amount, depending on what you want to plant, because this stuff is going to shrink!
  2. Put enough water in a bucket filled with newspaper bits to cover it and leave it to soak overnight. You can store the bucket outside so you won’t need to carry it out in the morning but make sure it’s in a well shaded area (near a plug for your blender) or you’ll have a big bucket of mess if it dries out.
  3. In the morning the newspaper should be soft and mushy. Have the little ones scoop it out and put it into the blender. Give it some pulses until it’s kind of like a newspaper paste. Dump it batch by batch into a new bucket.
  4. Let the kids get their hands dirty! You’re going to take the muffin tins and have the kids press the newspaper pulp into it like cupcake liners. It doesn’t need to be super thick, but it should be enough to hold the dirt and plant eventually.
  5. Once they’ve pressed out a bunch of gloopy newspaper pots, leave them in the sun to dry for the afternoon.
  6. You can now use your newspaper pots to plant your new crops in. You can also plant these directly in the ground once your seedlings have sprouted since they’ll disintegrate. You can water in the newspaper pots, you can also use a plastic bag to greenhouse them, just make sure they’re not drenched for long periods of time or you’ll have newspaper pulp on your hands again.

Tip: If you want more of a window box shape for larger plants, a round planter or anything else you can use anything you have lying around as a mold. Some things might take longer to dry than the cupcake pots, but the process stays the same.