Homemade Biodegradable Pots From Toilet Paper Tubes

Our household generates plenty of toilet paper rolls. We’ve switched to cloth on just about everything else, but I’m not ready to make our house a TP-free Zone just yet (sorry, No Impact Man).  
I save up toilet paper rolls (by the simple means of not emptying the powder room garbage nearly as often as I should) until I have a good dozen or so, and then convert them into biodegradable pots. If you currently pay good money for small peat pots, I encourage you to give this DIY-equivelent a try. The size of these makes them excellent for soft herbs and salad greens like parsley, basil, lettuce or chard.
Start with your rolls, emptied of paper, of course.
Cut in half.
Stand the rolls on end, cut-side-up so they rest more evenly, on a baking sheet or tray that can hold water.
One by one, fill your tubes with potting mix. Don’t worry about the open bottom. As long as your potting mix is adequately moist and you compress it a bit, everything should all hold together just fine. Think of these as a soil block with a girdle on.
Your homemade biodegradable pots are ready to plant! Follow standard seed-sowing practices
Water from the bottom and you can watch the cardboard wick up the moisture. Keeping the cardboard relatively moist will encourage it to fall apart sooner. In the case of a short-lived bio-pot, that’s a good thing.
All ready to plant out, tube and all. Because these pots don’t have a bottom, root growth won’t be constricted as it can be with peat pots. You do have to be a bit careful to support the bottom of the pot when you move it to prevent the potting mix from breaking away and falling out. And remember to bury the pot fully so that nice wicking action doesn’t act in reverse and draw moisture away from the plant roots once it’s in the ground. 
What do you do to reduce waste or repurpose garbage into something useful?
Third Time's The Charm: Doing The Leftover Dance & Reducing Food Waste
I Am An Urban Homesteader, Nyah Nyah

Comments

  1. What a great idea! We currently use our TP rolls as rabbit toys. I don't know what it is about them, but our rabbits go gaga over them.

  2. I use paper egg cartons as little seed-starting cups for greens. they have the same wicking features as the tp rolls. root binding is probably a possibility, though, since I don't cut out the bottoms of the cups.

    I also use plastic cookie trays — e.g. from a package of sandwich cookies, with 2 rows — to hold the cups & water.

  3. Great Ideas! Thank you guys for reading.
    Rachel – do the bunnies repay the favor with lots of fertilizer for the garden?
    hhw – good way to reuse the cookie tray!

  4. Great idea-so simple and clever. I am getting anxious for some fresh herbs and greens!

  5. Thanks for the Twitter follow today. I'm also using TP rolls, but not for seed starting pots.

    I'm using TP rolls to protect against squash vine borer in the garden. See my post today at http://bit.ly/gGPGfG

  6. Interesting use for them. I've used them for rings to protect from cutworms or whatever eats my broccoli seedlings, but never pots. Currently we give them to the preschool gerbil so that's recycling, right?

    My brother uses newspaper pots that do a pretty good job breaking down. I think cardboard would break down too slow for veggies to spread their roots, though again I've never tried it. I love my home made soil block maker. I plant up the same as you, but I have no pots to deal with, just soil blocks.

  7. Thanks Antone! I'm ready for more diversity in my fresh food too, but happy the winter greens are growing again!
    Bill – good idea to protect squash vines!
    Sinfonian-definitely recycling, especially if the gerbil pays you back in poop. :) One thing I like about the bottomless TP pot is that the roots can still go down while the tube is breaking down. Do you have a post on how you made you soil blocker? I'd love to read it.

  8. totally L-O-V-E this!

  9. Well, gotta go dig those t.p. tubes out of the trash lol.

  10. I love this version much better. I was show how to cut bottoms and fold in to make it more like a "pot" but will be trying this. I've got my wife saving these and her yogurt cups.

    Luis

  11. Good point about the roots going down. I just pulled apart two soil blocks that were growing together in the seedling tray as the roots intermingled. May be time to plant out lettuce under a hoop cover.

    I didn't actually make my own soil block maker, a reader did for me, though I plan on making another. Here is his link.
    http://www.jbest123.com/?s=soil+block+maker

  12. Anonymous says:

    I did mine and the rolls got all moldy. I had to seperate them from touching.

  13. Anon-yup, I have also found air circulation is important to keep the TP rolls from molding. Excellent point, thank you for making it!

  14. Great idea! After I read your post last month, I tried this with my chard seedlings. It's worked well so far, but I also noticed white fuzz growing on the outside of the rolls, so I upped the amount of time my fan is on inside. I'm planning to use a spatula to transfer them from the plate they're on out to the garden, to minimize soil loss out of the bottom of the rolls.

  15. Great ideas, thanks!

  16. I cut 4 slits in the bottom and fold them in like a boxtop… then it has a bottom… I open up that bottom when I plant them…. This cutting and folding is a great job for grandkids, by the way :) lol !

  17. I find them to dry out the soil too much… I prefer newspaper pots. http://www.mysuburbanhomestead.com/make-your-own-newspaper-pots/

  18. Great idea. Gives a whole new meaning to bottoms up. :-)

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