Toilet Roll Transplant Experiment - Part One

Toilet paper rolls. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Or in my case, feel bad constantly throwing them out. In an effort to go one step above throwing these things in the recycling, we have decided to save them and use them as seed starting containers for some of our transplants. We have seen this done before and talked about, but have never tried this on our own before. Let’s begin part one of this two part experiment.


Setup and Planting


Because dirt is not naturally going to stay in the roll at first, we took an old planter catch pan to use as our base to catch any dirt or excess water and prevent a mess. We placed a red cup in the center, faced down in order to keep the rolls neatly spaced in a circle.


1. Place Toilet Paper Rolls


Next we placed the rolls and began filling them each with dirt, packing down the top slightly as we went.

Do not lift up the roll! I repeat, DO NOT LIFT UP THE ROLL!

Someone (maybe me) accidentally lifted the roll before wetting the dirt and letting it all settle together. This caused the giant mess of dirt that you see in the bottom of the tray. No harm done, but I won’t be making that mistake again.


2. Fill With Dirt


After filling the rolls begin to plant the seeds you would like to grow. Now as a warning, not every seed is a great candidate for this. Beans, especially broad beans are great choices for this as they grow skyward and quickly. We decided to go with Dragon Tongue Beans and a Sunflower Mix. Our sunflowers last year had been started from seed directly in the garden and were the victim of a slug buffet. They never knew what was coming and the next thing you know all of our sunflowers were gone (cucumbers were consumed as well).

To plant the seeds, push them down into the center of the roll and cover the top with dirt. It’s as easy as that.


3. Plant Seeds In Rolls


With our seeds planted, it is now time to water them in. Do not skimp on the water at this point. I made sure to not only get the top moist, but also the sides. In this case all I had on me was a turkey baster to get them watered, but get creative. The water, and eventually the plant roots, will help solidify the dirt and make it so that you can lift it up without loosing everything out the bottom.


4. Water Everything


With everything watered in, I decided to move this tray out to the heat mats that I used to start my seeds. This way it will provide some warmth that will encourage faster germination. At this point all there is left to do is wait. During the waiting period, you must make sure to keep the soil moist. If you let it dry out you risk the seeds not sprouting or dying if they managed to germinate. Neglect is one of the most common causes of plant starting failures.


6. Wait & Water As Needed



The sunflowers have all began sprouting, breaking through the potting soil in just four days. The beans are a bit behind, but I am still hopeful. Once these have germinated, I will move them to light and let them get a bit stronger before we attempt to move them out into the garden. Part two will cover that process and hopefully everything be successful. But as you know, nature has it’s way of complicating things, so we will see.

I encourage you to try this along with me and post any questions in the comments below.

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About the Author

Geoff has been growing plants and vegetables consistently for the last 6 years and actively experiments with, and writes about, all aspects of gardening.

1 Comment

  1. Toilet Roll Transplant Experiment - Part Two - The Four Season Gardener
    June 7, 2017 - 10:37 am

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