If your children are looking forward to making Valentine’s Day cards, help them celebrate by sharing the coming spring. Children can easily make plantable paper, embedded with seeds.
This is a simple craft project that could even be a step into more serious and creative papermaking.
- Recyclable paper – Make it porous paper like a phone book, newspaper, or computer paper rather than glossy paper from a magazine. For color, add construction paper or cardstock scraps.
- Small seeds – It is most common to use wildflower seeds, but any small seeds will do. Herbs and some vegetables make great seed paper.
- Blender – Use your kitchen blender, but clean it really well.
- Warm water – Not hotter than your child is comfortable touching.
- Spoon – I like to use an old wooden spoon.
- Papermaking screen and tub – The tub should be just larger than your screen around and deep enough to hold water a couple of inches higher than the screen frame.
- Sheet of felt - If you do not have paper making equipment, you can still make a nice sheet of paper with interesting texture. The thicker paper can make a heavy card. A sheet of felt is a simple way to drain excess water, but you can also use smooth flannel or even a flat diaper with the smooth side up. Choose any fabric that is mostly smooth and very absorbent.
- Newspaper – If using felt. I put paper under the felt to absorb excess.
- Strainer – If using felt.
- Dish towel or diaper - To absorb water.
Tear. Tear the paper into small pieces. Fill the blender about half full. Don’t pack the pieces in.
Water. Pour in enough warm water to nearly reach the maximum fill line.
Blend. Start low then raise the speed to medium until there are no pieces of paper visible.
Seeds. Add about a teaspoonful of seeds. DO NOT BLEND. Just stir with the spoon.
With a Screen
Pour. If you will be using paper making equipment—a screen and a tub filled with water—place your screen at the bottom of your tub and pour the pulp into the tub of water. Using a screen allows you to get a thinner, more even sheet of paper.
Screen. Stir the pulp until it is evenly distributed across the surface of the water, and slowly raise your screen to capture the pulp. You may need to coax the seeds into spreading through the pulp.
Drain. Drain and remove the paper to dry on the dish towel. If you haven’t made paper before, this is the step that will take the most patience to master. If patience is not your child’s strong point, it might be best to choose the felt method.
Strain. Strain the pulp from the water. Press the water out with your fingers or a spoon.
Spread. Spoon the pulp onto the felt. You can make any shape, but, if you are making Valentine’s Day cards, spooning into a heart-shaped cookie cutter makes a beautiful little valentine.
Press. Press down on the pulp to remove more water.
Dry. How long this takes depends on your climate. Once the paper is dry to the touch on top, turn it over to dry the other side.
Message. I find homemade paper very difficult to write on, so I sometimes print a tiny note to attach to the thicker paper. If you used a very smooth piece of felt and you write carefully with a ballpoint pen or soft pencil, you may be able to write your message directly on the paper. Don’t use ink that will be absorbed and spread through the paper.
Be sure to include a note that tells your Valentine that they can plant the paper or card directly into the garden. It helps to tell them what they will grow as well, so they will know where best to plant the love note.