Gardening (and living) between the stumps. Anything is possible.

An Experiment in Indoor Seeding

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There’s been some buzz among home gardeners about reusing materials in the garden: toilet paper tubes, for one. The idea is you use toilet paper tubes for starting seeds indoors or in your greenhouse. This would allow you to cut expenses in the garden, all while reusing materials that would otherwise be discarded.

Why not? I decided to test the idea.

Excited by the prospect of never buying seeding trays again, I was tempted to go with the toilet paper tubes all the way, but I wisely decided not to gamble my harvest on something I’d never tried. So for my next indoor seeding project, I set up a fairly scientific test, sowing identical sets of crops in each tray. The control was a set of deep-root plastic cells, and the experiment, the paperboard tubes. I filled them both with seed-starting soil mix from the same bag, stuff I’ve been using for years. I placed them side by side, under the same grow light, beneath the same window.

The results were definitive, if disappointing: plastic won, hands down.

Four weeks later, the plants in the plastic cells were taller, stronger, greener, broader, and surely healthier. The tube-planted seedlings were markedly smaller, their leaves curled and yellow-tinted. I’m not able to pinpoint the reason, but I’m going to guess the processing chemicals and/or glue in the toilet paper tubes leached out and adversely affected the seedlings.

The moral of the story: bathroom products and vegetables don’t mix. I’m glad I decided to test it out before diving in. I think I’ll save the rest of the tubes for craft projects.

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