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toiletpaper seed starter

 
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I love this video.  So soothing to watch them make seed starting containers out of what would otherwise be a waste product.  
 
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I tried this last fall and literally nothing germinated.

Maybe I'm just really bad at it. Maybe I didn't water them enough... I do live in Texas so things dry out fast especially the fall seed starts (which I had left outside) since you start them when it's still 90+ out...

Perhaps I'll give it another try for the spring garden :)
 
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I know people who've used this technique, but a friend gave me a paper pot maker which gives me a wider diameter to work with, and I've figured out how to make them 3" tall when constructed, which really helps give the roots some good depth to work with, so I gave up on the TP tube version.

However, I found it's important that the pots have some airspace around them as if they're packed too close, the paper tends to go moldy.

I also found that I've had very little damping off, I don't have to transplant tiny seedlings into larger containers, and I tend not to get transplant shock as I plant the whole pot without disturbing the roots. With newsprint, the roots will grow right through the pot, and the video says that they will through the TP Tuber version also.

Despite my duck's efforts to control slugs near my garden, I seem to do better if I can grow my plants a bit larger before putting them into the ground. Our cloudy spring weather often stalls seedlings while they're too small still to cope with a slug visiting.

A full height minus bottom fold material Costco toilet roll would be 3" tall by 1 5/8 diameter.
My paper version, 3" tall by 2 1/4 diameter.
5/8" extra might not seem like much, but area is squared, and volume cubed, so I'm allowing more dirt to buffer moisture levels, and I try to used decent compost and not add anything artificial. I want strong plants, not big plants. However, that means I need a lot more dirt to start the same number of seeds, so the TP Roll version could be better if soil/compost was in short supply.

However, if TP tubes was what I had, I'd far prefer to use it over plastic pots. I try to use plastic pots only when nothing else will do the job.

I label the paper itself before it gets wet - separate labels tend to get separated... (yes, I really typed that, but it's the truth as I know it!)
 
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This can be A LOT simpler.
Step #1- Get a tray and tubes and damp soil mix
Step#2- Put your hand over one end of the tube (leave both ends open- no cutting or folding) and scoop it through the dirt, gently piacking it in.
Step#3- Set it in the tray and repeat with all the tubes. Steps 2-3 take about 10 seconds or less per tube.
Step#4- Water the tubes. The dirt will settle a little.
Step#5- Place seed on top of dirt and sprinkle soil on top to the depth required by the seed. And gently water the top.

When you fold the bottoms in, the cardboard is too thick to grow through soon enough so you have to unfold the bottom before planting out. By the time you are ready to plant out, with the bottom left open, the roots are right there and ready to go.

This method is best for plants that send down deep roots and don't like transplanting. I use it for sweet corn because I can have 200 narrow toilet paper tubes squished into a few trays under my grow lights and get my sweet corn started and transplanted with minimal disturbance of the roots. Most containers that are deep enough for corn, are unnecessarily wide which limits my shelf space. It also works for peas and beans. Not great for tomatoes, peppers and stuff like that.

It is also not great for things you are going to keep in pots for a while. I only keep the seeds growing in them for 2-3 weeks.

Yes, they do dry out fast and yes you get some interesting fungus growth on the outside but this has never injured my seeds. I water them from the bottom which helps keep the seeds from getting diseases.

I consider this method a halfway point between regular pots and soil blocking.
 
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I had no idea you can transplant corn! I might try that, since our season is too short for corn unless it’s in a greenhouse, and greenhouse space is too precious to waste on a corn crop.
 
Jenny Wright
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Julie Reed wrote:I had no idea you can transplant corn! I might try that, since our season is too short for corn unless it’s in a greenhouse, and greenhouse space is too precious to waste on a corn crop.



Corn doesn't like it's roots to be disturbed and my growing season is cool and short so starting seeds inside in the toilet paper tubes is the best way I've found to get a sweet corn crop. The ground is warm enough for me mid to late June so I usually start them inside the last week of May. If it's a cold June, their roots start growing all over the bottom of the tray by the time I can transplant but since I'm not pulling them out of a pot when I plant them out, they don't seem to mind it. Plus, like you said, indoor growing space is precious, so narrow and deep is the way to go with corn.
20190826_111440_HDR.jpg
My August corn that was transplanted in late June.
My August corn that was transplanted in late June.
 
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I've been reading about bio-activated compost lately (see below).
https://www.csuchico.edu/regenerativeagriculture/_assets/documents/johnson-su-bioreactor.pdf

They use an extract from their bio-reactor to make a coating for seeds, but their method takes one year to actually make the large heap of compost "activated" and I don't want to wait that long.

SO, I'm going to try and make a solution with distilled water and "ferti-lome", a rooting powder, or similar product to coat my seeds and see how they work out. Most Nursery or Garden Supply centers carry such products. I've had great success coating roots of "root stock" plants using this powder successfully.

Stay tuned! Spring is on its way!!!    :-)
 
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I tried using this TP tube method ands collected them all winter.  I did not have enough to do all my starts, so I also used my regular peat pots and plastic along side them.  I kept them in a perma tray to keep them moist and under the same conditions as all my other starts.  Almost nothing grew in the TP pots and sprouted much slower.  The same seed in other pots came out fine.  All I could conclude was that something was added to the card board that did this.  Sorry I don't remember the brand we were using, but I'd do a test run before you put all your hopes in one method.
 
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Kathy Vargo wrote:I tried using this TP tube method ands collected them all winter.  I did not have enough to do all my starts, so I also used my regular peat pots and plastic along side them.  I kept them in a perma tray to keep them moist and under the same conditions as all my other starts.  Almost nothing grew in the TP pots and sprouted much slower.  The same seed in other pots came out fine.  All I could conclude was that something was added to the card board that did this.  Sorry I don't remember the brand we were using, but I'd do a test run before you put all your hopes in one method.



Same thing happened to me. Also, the TP rolls came undone when moist.
Pots made from newspaper also didn't work for me.  Damping off or no sprouting under grow lights. I tried both methods last Winter among the  plastic cups where I melted bunch of holes at their bottoms and had no issue with those. None, what so ever. I take care of those so they last a looong time.
Not sure what I'm going to do now as I can't get/buy replacement  lightbulbs for my grow lights.....
 
Julie Reed
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Jenny Wright wrote:  Corn doesn't like it's roots to be disturbed and my growing season is cool and short.



Your corn in the picture is beautiful! I grew up where it was warmer and we had sweet corn ‘knee high by the 4th of July’. My father always said corn will tolerate cool air but needs warm soil. My soil doesn’t even hit 60 degrees until mid June. I’m thinking of maybe putting up a quick hoop house with 3/4” pvc conduit and 10 mil poly, maybe 10x10, to speed up the warming of the soil and early growth of the corn, then pulling the poly off once the corn is 4’ tall. I know corn does better in a squarish block than a long row, so that may work. We were admittedly spoiled about sweet corn, we had the water boiling when we picked it. So I’d love to experience that deliciousness again. I do know people who grow it in massive greenhouses, but they sell it for $2 an ear, and you can’t pick it so it could have been sitting a couple days.
 
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Jenny Wright wrote:This can be A LOT simpler.
Step #1- Get a tray and tubes and damp soil mix
Step#2- Put your hand over one end of the tube (leave both ends open- no cutting or folding) and scoop it through the dirt, gently piacking it in.
Step#3- Set it in the tray and repeat with all the tubes. Steps 2-3 take about 10 seconds or less per tube.
Step#4- Water the tubes. The dirt will settle a little.
Step#5- Place seed on top of dirt and sprinkle soil on top to the depth required by the seed. And gently water the top.

When you fold the bottoms in, the cardboard is too thick to grow through soon enough so you have to unfold the bottom before planting out. By the time you are ready to plant out, with the bottom left open, the roots are right there and ready to go.

This method is best for plants that send down deep roots and don't like transplanting. I use it for sweet corn because I can have 200 narrow toilet paper tubes squished into a few trays under my grow lights and get my sweet corn started and transplanted with minimal disturbance of the roots. Most containers that are deep enough for corn, are unnecessarily wide which limits my shelf space. It also works for peas and beans. Not great for tomatoes, peppers and stuff like that.

It is also not great for things you are going to keep in pots for a while. I only keep the seeds growing in them for 2-3 weeks.

Yes, they do dry out fast and yes you get some interesting fungus growth on the outside but this has never injured my seeds. I water them from the bottom which helps keep the seeds from getting diseases.

I consider this method a halfway point between regular pots and soil blocking.



I tried this for the first time last year and was amazed at how quickly and how much mold grew on the tubes. I folded the bottom of some and left others as is.

You mentioned bottom watering. Do you do that from the start, or do you top water until the seed germinates and starts putting roots down? I top watered everything the whole time. All of my brassicas died from what looked to be damping off and im not sure if the mold could have contributed to that or what.
 
Jenny Wright
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Brody Ekberg wrote:

I tried this for the first time last year and was amazed at how quickly and how much mold grew on the tubes. I folded the bottom of some and left others as is.

You mentioned bottom watering. Do you do that from the start, or do you top water until the seed germinates and starts putting roots down? I top watered everything the whole time. All of my brassicas died from what looked to be damping off and im not sure if the mold could have contributed to that or what.



At the very beginning I get everything well soaked but after that I water from the bottom. I also wait until the outer tubes start looking dry. The ones in the outside of the tray dry out first. This is usually every other day

I wonder if people have more problems than me because maybe their trays are deeper than mine. I use lunch room trays like the kind you get at a cafeteria so they are very shallow, maybe 1/2" deep. So I can't put too much water in them.

I also mainly use TP tubes for big seeds like corn and beans. Things that germinate quickly and grow fast and don't need to be kept very damp. I also have grown wild flower seeds and herbs in them with varying success.

I have a horrible time starting brassicas inside no matter what method I use. My house is kept pretty warm and the room I have my seeds in is even warmer and damp from the grow lights and moist dirt. I don't like planting straight into the garden without some backup seedlings in pots because my bunny population is voracious so last year I came up with the solution to start my brassicas up on my porch outside in the cold. It worked pretty well except for me forgetting to water them but I had more than enough seedlings to fill my garden that I ended up planting extra kale and broccoli in random spots in the yard.
 
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I didn't have success with TP rolls either. The seedlings were sickly and I put it down to some sort of chemical in the cardboard. I noticed that plain paper pots will mold easily and damping off is a problem. No mold at all on the TP pots which reinforced my suspicion about some kind of chemical.
 
Jenny Wright
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My toilet paper has brown paper rolls and the toilet paper always easily comes completely off with no leftover bits. Some friends saved some TP tubes for me and I noticed some of them were bleached white paper and a lot had toilet paper bits firmly glued on them. So it will be interesting to see if there is any difference in seed germination with the different brands of toilet paper tubes.

I'll try to remember to post picture later this spring of the results. Like I said in an earlier post, I don't use the TP rolls until late spring with the plants that I will plant out In June
 
Nick Kitchener
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Sort of related but off topic... Toilet paper does make an excellent seed tape medium. I make a glue out of corn starch, lay down the paper, place the seeds, add a drop of glue and leave to dry. Then roll it back onto an empty toilet roll.

I've used it for carrots, parsnips, and inter-seeded mixes like carrots / spinach / radish. In my zone 3 it makes sense because we have months where everything is frozen and we have the time to make seed tape or other crafts. When planting time comes, I just roll it out onto the ground and cover it with compost. Planting done.

In my zone, the planting time window is short and the weather conditions are unpleasant. Being able to precisely lay down seed quickly and get out of the freezing rain is a real benefit.

The paper itself just dissolves into the soil, unlike the toilet paper roll seedling pots that refuse to break down even after a year in the soil.
 
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Back to the TP roll seedling pots. If you plant them directly in the soil, make sure the bottoms are open so the roots can grow down because the cardboard doesn't break down in my experience.
 
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This thread makes me wonder if simple tubes of aluminum, plastic or steel might be good for seed starting.
The cardboard tube seems unlikely to decay fully in a growing season, yet it might mold.
If we are going to to open the bottom of each tube anyway, do we need to close it in the first place?
 
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Jenny Wright wrote:
At the very beginning I get everything well soaked but after that I water from the bottom. I also wait until the outer tubes start looking dry. The ones in the outside of the tray dry out first. This is usually every other day

I wonder if people have more problems than me because maybe their trays are deeper than mine. I use lunch room trays like the kind you get at a cafeteria so they are very shallow, maybe 1/2" deep. So I can't put too much water in them.

I also mainly use TP tubes for big seeds like corn and beans. Things that germinate quickly and grow fast and don't need to be kept very damp. I also have grown wild flower seeds and herbs in them with varying success.

I have a horrible time starting brassicas inside no matter what method I use. My house is kept pretty warm and the room I have my seeds in is even warmer and damp from the grow lights and moist dirt. I don't like planting straight into the garden without some backup seedlings in pots because my bunny population is voracious so last year I came up with the solution to start my brassicas up on my porch outside in the cold. It worked pretty well except for me forgetting to water them but I had more than enough seedlings to fill my garden that I ended up planting extra kale and broccoli in random spots in the yard.



I was watering ours from the top and probably every day. I’ve never bottom watered anything and I would be worried that the seeds would dry out on top. I had two different types of trays and the deeper ones definitely got moldy faster. Air flow helps a lot. I think I tried starting everything in the tp tubes last year and it worked out well except for brassicas. Maybe I should just start them outside in early spring instead of inside. The tomatoes and peppers needed to be transplanted from the tp tubes quickly but that was no big deal.
 
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