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How to Use Empty Toilet Paper Rolls as Compostable Seed-Starters

This trick is good for your garden and the planet.

Toilet rolls as seed starters

As spring unfurls its brightness, all sorts of things start to sprout—leaf buds on the tree branches, bulbs peeking up above the soil and birds singing their way home after their winter journeys. 

Spring is a time of seeding—figuratively, as we breathe in fresh, new air and literally, as we plan for the growing season ahead. 

I have read that peat pots, which are often used as an alternative to plastic seed-starting flats, can negatively impact the bogs from which they’re harvested. So if we’re trying to be clean and natural in our gardens, how can we smartly start seeds without harming the planet?

One idea comes from a surprising place—the bathroom. Toilet paper typically come on cardboard tubes that are untreated and, like peat pots, ready to transfer from your indoor seed-starting area straight into your outdoor garden beds, where they’ll compost and feed your soil with the brown fiber it loves.

The home décor website The Spruce offers an easy, effective way to upcycle empty toilet paper tubes into seedling pods. 

  • Take a clean, dry toilet paper tube and, using a sharp pair of scissors, cut 1.5-inch length strips around one end. Space the cuts approximately half an inch apart.
  • Fold the cut sections toward the center of the tube, snugging them together to form a bottom for your “pot.”
  • Fill the pots with moistened seed-starting medium or other seed-friendly potting soil. 
  • Plant your seeds and maintain them with light and water as you would with any other type of pot. 
  • Once the seedlings have grown, “harden” the plants off before planting directly into your garden—cardboard tube and all. Be sure to tear off any cardboard that sits above the soil line, as it will wick moisture away from the plants’ roots.

One more helpful tip—if your cardboard pots don’t want to stand up straight while the seeds are germinating, use some garden twine to gently hold them together.

Have you ever thought to use toilet paper tubes to start seeds? What other recycle garden hacks do you love?

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