DIY Seed Paper
The seed catalogs have started rolling in, and it's got me in the mood to plant. It's way too early to start, so I settled on taking old paper and turning it into new paper embedded with seeds...ready to plant when the weather warms!
Start by gathering old paper (junk mail, newspapers, scrap booking leftovers (as I did)....anything. Just make sure to remove any plastic, staples or other additions, and don't use shiny/slick papers as they contain substances that will be toxic to our seeds). Cut/tear/shred to get small pieces.
Soak your paper overnight, or at least 12 hours. You want it good and soggy!
While that's soaking, build a screen. You'll need a simple frame. You can build one or use an old picture frame with the glass/backing removed. Stretch a piece of nylon screen tightly across and staple in place. My staples were too long so I didn't get this done well and my screen began sagging by the end of the process.
Encase the edges in duct tape. The paper pulp won't stick to the tape, so it gives you a nice edge. In my case it helped secure to screen.
Our paper yielded about 1 1/2-2 cups soaked paper. Add that to your blender (some would advise you to use a blender other than your primary food prep blender...due to the inks and such ) I have a separate blender I used for this, but I probably would've used my one and only if that's all I had!
And plenty of water and blend until you're happy with the consistency. Mine was like very runny oatmeal.
My 5x7 suspended across a 9x13 pan, so we just spooned and poured on our paper "pulp", then added our seeds (and petals in this case). Add a bit more pulp to help hold the seeds. This is calendula.
Cover with wax paper and use a flat edge (spatula or in this case the flat, hard edge of a scrub sponge) to work out from center smoothing and pressing water down through your screen. CAREFULLY remove the wax paper (If any pulps lifts off you can either A) start over or if it's just a small spot B) spoon on a bit more pulp and smooth again), and clean up the taped portion. I just wiped with my finger, being careful if I noticed the sheet being disturbed.
After the dripping has stopped, move your frame to a towel and begin drying the pulp with a sponge. The thinner the paper, the harder this is. We started pretty thick so that my 5 year-olds could help. Just press with the sponge, then wring it out. Continue until your not getting anymore, then flip your frame over and dry from the other side. You won't get much through the screen, but that's okay. I thought a kitchen towel worked better than the sponge on the back.
Now the moment of truth. Take a deap breath and use a knife to gently start removing the paper from the screen. Just do one edge. If it's wanting to tear you need more drying first. Get that one edge broke loose and flip it over.
Use one hand to anchor the paper down on the towel (I know I'm holding it in the pic...just hold it down) and the other to lift the frame off the paper. Easy does it!
Now for courser paper you can either press between two towels, or for a smoother paper we covered with wax paper and rolled out from center. Remove from your wax paper (It will be stuck...careful you don't rip it!), flip it over and roll from the other side. If you press between towels you will have the texture of the towel imprinted, so the slicker the better!
Left paper was pressed between towels, right rolled. Allow your paper to dry overnight, then you can either be done, or use a WARM (not hot) iron to flatten it (a towel b/w your paper and the iron).
Ready to plant paper!!! We made the bookmarks for my mom...she reads a lot...I figure she can enjoy a good book now, then head outside when it warms up and plant some calendula and bee balm! I wrote the plant type/planting instructions on the back. Have fun!!
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