Even though the first day of spring has already passed, it’s still way to cold for us to plant anything outside yet. In our neck of the woods, it isn’t really safe to put anything in the ground until after the last frost, which is somewhere around Mother’s Day and that’s still a long way off. This leaves people like me really antsy, especially after staring at mounds of snow for one too many weeks.
To combat a serious lack of Vitamin D and the smell of freshly grown green things, I can often be found starting seeds indoors with our kids. Each year, they get a kick out of our seed starting projects and it’s become a weird, quirky tradition in our home.
To keep our seed starting projects focused on them and their interest in gardening, I encourage them to pick out the seeds that we will grow. I never discourage their choices and only offer advice when asked. This often leads to a bizarre little collection of seeds, but it keeps them interested and involved – and that’s the whole point.
They also love testing out new containers to see which ones will work or not. In the past, we’ve used all sorts of recyclables to pot up seeds in like yogurt containers, berry baskets, tin cans, and other more, but we had yet to try out the most basic seed starting container of them all. The toilet paper roll.
Seeing that we have an endless supply of empty toilet paper rolls in our home, I thought it would be a perfect way to put them to good use. They are very easy to use and due to their recyclable nature, the kids can just plant the entire tubes in the ground once it has thawed.
There are several ways to use toilet paper rolls as seed starting containers. You can cut the bottoms into flaps and fold them under, or you can just leave them as tubes and rest them carefully in a large glass tray as we have done. I prefer this method because it allows the roots to grow down and the plants to grow up. However, if you like the flap method for a neater display, just make sure you unfold the flaps before planting your tubes in the ground.
TOILET PAPER ROLL SEED STARTERS
- Used toilet paper rolls
- Potting soil
- Water & Dropper (we used an old medicine dropper)
- Windows (We used East and South-facing ones)
Step 1: Arrange all of your materials on a large work surface. You may want to cover your table with a large sheet for easy clean up as this is a messy project. Kids 8 and older can probably do this gardening craft on their own, but smaller hands will need help getting the soil and seeds into the toilet paper roll.
Step 2: Cut your toilet paper rolls in half. Using a sharpie, write the name of the seeds on each roll. This will keep your organized as they start to grow. Place your toilet paper rolls in a large tray (we used a glass pyrex lasagna tray).
Step 3: Fill each toilet paper toll with potting soil and gently tamp down. Make a small hole in each one and plant seeds according to package directions (larger seeds like peas may need their own paper towel rolls, smaller ones like chives may be planted together).
Step 4: Carefully water the seeds using a water dropper. You don’t want everything to be sopping wet or else it will mold. Just moisten the soil.
Step 5: Wrap the tray loosely with saran wrap. You need to create a little microclimate in the tray! Place near a sunny window, but not too close to a heat source or they will shrivel and die.
Step 6: Check on your seeds every few days. Some will germinate faster than others. Your kids will be able to clearly see the growth of the roots and then the shoot. If you notice any rot occurring, throw those rolls out so they don’t infect any other seedlings.
Step 7: Once the ground has thawed and your seedlings are established little plants, you can carefully pot them up in a bigger container if they still need some TLC, or you can plant them in the ground. Remember to compost your paper towel rolls – just rip them up and add them to your bin!
Do you use recyclables to pot up plants? Let us know what your favorite recyclables are in the comments below. Or, tag us on Instagram, @weknowstuff, so we can stop by and see what you’ve been up to!