Growing your own plants is a fun way to gain some food sovereignty – and in a world of uncertain futures, limited super market trips and a lack of fresh produce on the shelves, it can be a lifeline for those of us with fresh vegetable cravings. The trouble is, growing your own food and flowers often comes with a lot of plastic waste as collateral damage. While somethings are harder to find good swaps for, such as plastic propagation stations (although 2L plastic bottles can be quite the impressive substitute) a simple way to use up household waste, prevent the purchasing of extra plastic, and plant your seedlings out without disturbing their little roots is to grow them in little cardboard ‘pots’ made out of toilet paper rolls.
First, grab yourself some cardboard inserts from toilet paper and paper towels. Cut the paper towel ones down to toilet paper size. You can use thick or thin tubes; the thicker ones will hold up a little longer so aim to use your thicker ones for the seedlings which will need the most indoor growing time, like your chilli peppers and eggplants/aubergines. The ones from Who Gives a Crap toilet paper are awesome for seedlings, for your tush, and for the planet!
Next, use a scissors to make four short (1 inch) incisions in each tube.
Then, fold in the flaps until they cover the bottom of the tube. Press them in slightly, so that they push on each other and form a base for the tube. Push the bottom of the tube down on a table to get a firm and mostly level bottom.
Fill with fresh compost for seedlings and cuttings, water thoroughly and pop 1-2 seeds in each tube. Place upright in your little propagation stations and wait for them to grow. Use grit around them if you’ve got it for drainage and support. Don’t worry if they get a little mouldy – just open your propagator’s little air vent so they get their air circulated.
Once your little seedlings are ready to be planted on in bigger pots, simply plant the entire cardboard tube in the pot! It will bio-degrade over time and provide some yummy worm food, and best of all it won’t destroy the root system when replanting!
PS – you’ll notice a colour coding system in the last picture! As a candle loving artist, I save my old matches for seedling season, and dip them into different coloured acrylic paints so that each seedling stays identifiable. This stops the name of the plant from coming off of its label in the humidity of the propagation lot. Just make sure you don’t lose the key!