Toilet Roll Transplant Experiment - Part Two

Transplanting The Rolls

You guys didn’t think I would leave you hanging on this experiment did you?

A number of posts back, I began an experiment to grow beans and sunflowers in toilet paper rolls in an effort to reuse something that would normally be tossed away. Get up to speed on that post here: Toilet Roll Transplant Experiment - Part One

As expected, the plants grew. And for the most part grew well. I choose sunflowers and beans because they tend to send up strong shoots and send roots down fairly quick. Unfortunately, to no fault of the experiment, the sunflowers did not make it. They did not get access to enough light initially when the experiment began due to there being to many plants in my grow room that hadn’t gone outside yet. Without enough light, they sent their shoots up too high and the stems became “stringy”. When this happens, the plant tends to be weak and not stand up straight and tall, instead choosing to lay sideways and in my case, die. Thus we were left with only the beans and the rest of this post will show you their trip to the garden.

The beans went from starting indoors in the grow room putting out a few leaves, to traveling to the wild outdoors to harden off. The sun is quite bright outside and putting them directly into the sun would most likely kill them or severely stunt them. For three days they sat in the shade all day and came into the garage at night. Three more days after that they were set out in the sun in the morning for a couple of hours to start acclimating to the sun and then moved to the shade for the rest of the day. And finally, for another round of three days, they sat in the sun all day long for the final hardening. I do this same process with most of my plants that are started indoors. It is kind of a pain to do, bringing plants in and out every day, but it is well worth it in the end.

All of that was done prior to the weekend of Memorial Day. That weekend is a good indicator of the temperatures to come, and we in Wisconsin are normally safe to plant some of our more sensitive plants outside around this time. Here is how the beans looked just before planting in the vegetable garden on Memorial Day.

The process of planting these is super easy! What I really like about this starting method is that you don’t have to fuss with trying to get the plant out of the planter itself (because it is biodegradable).

The initial step in planting is to dig a hole. I usually try to make one the size of the toilet paper roll deep. For width, i go slightly larger than the toilet paper roll wide.

After digging your holes, it is time to add some ingredients (if you’d like) before putting the beans in. This step is entirely optional.

First I add some worm castings for an added growth boost.

Next, as part of a side experiment, I added Mycorrhizal Fungi to the holes of two of the plants. I want to see how the growth differs between those that are planted with this beneficial fungus and those that are not.

After these additions, we add the beans. What you must make sure to do before planting the beans is to make sure that the toilet paper rolls themselves are damp. Moisture is what is going to help the rolls to decompose in the soil. If they are completely dry when adding them, this process takes much longer and could hinder the plants growth quality.

Now all you have to do is simply fill the rest in with dirt and cover with your mulching (if applicable). It’s as simple as that. To be honest, you feel quite good once they have been planted, knowing that not only did you recycle something that is commonly thrown away, but you will eventually get food from the plant itself as well.

All in all this was a success for me and I hope your tests were as successful as mine. Post your toilet paper roll experiment stories in the comments below.

Keep growing!

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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.

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