by Texas Homesteader ~
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Zero-waste seed starting using repurposed cardboard. Just plant seeds in cardboard tubes and when you’re ready to plant the seedlings you can transfer them – cardboard tube & all – right in the garden! The cardboard will decompose and enrich the soil too.
(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)
Repurposed Containers For Starting Seeds
Over the years I’ve used various containers for starting seeds, including repurposed plastic yogurt cups & such. But I loved those little biodegradable pots you can drop into the soil – pot, plant and all. How convenient!
But I didn’t want to buy them, I wanted a free version. So I’ve started planting my seeds in repurposed cardboard toilet paper rolls. They’re biodegradable, the earthworms love the paper when it’s in the garden, and they’re absolutely FREE!
When it’s time to put my precious seedlings into the garden that the whole shootin’ match – cardboard tube & all – can be placed in the soil!
The cardboard will simply decompose and further enrich the soil. I like that!
Planning A Spring Vegetable Garden
Spring is almost here!! I’d already formatted an excel spreadsheet with my garden’s layout to decide what to plant in the garden each year.
NOTE: The photo above is an example of my own garden’s layout. Your garden layout will be different but this photo shows what mine looks like. For your own garden you can use a *Garden Planner Notebook or maybe some sort of*Downloadable Garden Planner . And I’ve heard good things about Clyde’s Garden Planner too. (I’m not personally familiar with these products, just offering something to get your search started.)
I use this spreadsheet as my annual garden planner and it helps me keep track of what I’ve planted where each year, what grew well and what didn’t – even what seeds I have in my seed stash.
This helps me more easily rotate my plantings, pair beneficial plants together and keep plants that don’t play nicely together far apart.
Starting Vegetable Plants Inside
I use an indoor greenhouse system so I’ll have actual heirloom seedlings to drop in the ground around Easter (we’re in planting zone 8 here in NE Texas). It’s simply a clear, lidded tub. And it keeps the environment moist for easier germination.
But now it’s time to plant those seeds!
Saving Cardboard Tubes
These days instead of repurposed yogurt containers & such I’m planting those seeds in biodegradable pots. (ie: empty cardboard rolls)
I used to just toss the empty cardboard toilet paper tubes into my *tumbling composter. The cardboard at least helped supply much-needed carbon material for my Homemade Compost. (DANG I love my composter!)
But now I save those empty toilet paper rolls for an even better repurpose – seed-planting pots.
Accumulating Cardboard Tubes
When a toilet paper roll is emptied I simply mash it flat so it doesn’t take up much room as I accumulate them over several months.
Then when I get about 5-6 of them saved up I’ll roll the flattened tubes & tuck them all inside another empty cardboard tube so they’re all contained as I continue saving more.
But now I’ve been saving my toilet paper rolls for a while in preparation for seed planting. At last it’s finally time to put them all to good use.
I bring out my saved flattened rolls and a sturdy pair of scissors. Then I cut about a 3/4 inch slit into the bottom of each cardboard roll.
I flattened the tube the other way so that the slits are now on the sides instead of the middle and cut another 3/4 inch in the center of the bottom edge of the tube. This results in four short slits cut in the bottom edge of each tube.
They’re all 4 spaced approximately evenly all the way around. I don’t fuss too much with perfection here – that’s the way I roll, y’all!
While the cardboard tubes are flattened out I’ll take a permanent marker and write on each tube what kind of seed I’ll be planting in them.
Well lookie there – I’ve just made my own instant plant markers! LOL
Now it’s time to build my repurposed cardboard planting pot.
I want a squared-off bottom for my planting pots. So I just went around and folded each quarter section tab down tucking the last section underneath the first.
There, I’ve made a planting pot with a closed, boxed bottom.
Planting Seeds In Cardboard Tubes
Now let’s plant some seeds! I take my seed-starting mix and fill my new planting tube about 3/4 of the way, pressing firmly to pack it in well.
When all is ready, all that’s left to do is to add a seed and top with just enough soil to cover the seed. I use my fingertips to gently press everything snugly.
But I figured once I watered these tubes, the rolled cardboard might start to unravel with the moisture. So before that first watering I packed my planted tubes into various containers such as the bottom cut from a juice bottle, an old metal loaf pan and the like.
This keeps everything nicely contained. PLUS I can basically pour water into the holding container and allow the moisture to be wicked up through the bottom of my little homemade seed pots.
It will help keep the tiny seeds in place as they’re more gently watered through wicking, unlike water splashing down on top of them.
I need to give these babies the greatest chance for growing strong in preparation of planting those beautiful seedlings in my garden.
Moist Environment Setup For Seed Sprouting
Now that all those seed pots are planted and watered I placed them inside my Indoor Greenhouse. There they’ll have the moist environment they love to sprout quickly.
The clear tote holding my seeds are placed in front of a southern-facing window so they’ll get the most sunlight.
The waiting is always the hardest part, huh? Am I the only one that checks the newly-planted seeds on the VERY NEXT DAY to see if there’s been any development??
No I’m not impatient, YOU’RE impatient! LOL
But in no time I’m seeing many heirloom veggie seeds sprouting! It won’t be long before I’ll be hardening off seedlings in preparation for their productive season in the vegetable garden outside.
Planting Seedlings In Cardboard Pots In The Garden
When it’s finally time to plant my seedlings in the garden I’ll be able to drop the heirloom seedling – tube and all – into the soil.
By repurposing these cardboard tubes I’ve used something that used to be trash and repurposed it into something that’s very beneficial both to my gardening budget as well as those wonderful earthworms after it’s planted.
Y’all know my battle cry – #UseWhatchaGot. Gotta LOVE IT!
My Favorite Garden Hacks
- Easy Garden Planning Spreadsheet
- Getting A Jump: Planting An Indoor Greenhouse
- Repurposed Cardboard Seed-Starting Pots
- 3-Sister’s Garden – The Original Companion Planting
- Planting A Large Galvanized Trough
- Tricking Birds AWAY From Your Strawberry Plants
- Easy Compost For A Healthy Garden
- Propping Tender Seedlings
- Cheap (or FREE) Wood Mulch For The Garden
- Using Vining Plants For Living Mulch
- Homestead Hack: Remember Where You Planted Seeds
- Keeping Potted Plants Watered
- Planting A Blueberry Bush In Galvanized Tub
- Stevia – Growing Your Own Sweetener!
- How I Use EcoBricks In The Garden
- Repurposing A Coffee Can For Deep-Soak Watering
- How Leaves Benefit Your Garden
- My Simple, Zero-Waste Herb Drying Setup
- The Lazy Gardener’s Plant List – Plant Once, Eat For Years!
- How To Tell When Watermelon Is Ripe
- Luffa A Surprising Zucchini Substitute!
- How To Make Your Own Garden Soil
- Easy Homemade Seed Tape
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