An Early Start to Seed-Starting

Seed Starting at Farmhouse38

Shame on me if I don’t seize the opportunities that this temperate Southern California climate bestows.  I know it’s probably painful for some of my frozen-over friends out there watching me start my seeds (outside!) right now, but–how much worse would I be if I wasn’t taking advantage of this???  It’s okay if you need to look away….I understand.

I am always looking for new ways to go about my seed-planting; in previous years I have started them in egg cartons, pots, commercial starting trays, straight in the ground (gasp!), and multiple other methods that have had varying degrees of success and failure.  Lots and lots of failure, people.  This year, the experimentation continues….with toilet paper rolls (in addition to a few traditional seed-starting trays leftover from last year).  Ooooh yeah!  I get real excited when I can re-use something (especially ‘trash’) that I already have.  Especially because, allegedly, you can just pop these suckers into the ground whole, and they will biodegrade.  So, like a hyper chipmunk, I have been scavenging and hoarding TP and paper towel rolls beyond the bounds of proper decorum.  But that is only part of the experiment.  The other?  Starting my seeds in large plastic bins.  I first saw this idea here, and knew immediately that I must have it for my very own!  Not only do the bins help protect the fragile little babies, they make it easy to move all those itty-bitty pots around to your heart’s content.  Too cold at night?  Bring them inside.  Not enough sun?  Move them to a warm spot.  BRILLIANT.

I may have gone a little bit overboard at Baker Creek Heirlooms when I ordered, and those crafty, wonderful people throw in freebies, too:

An Early Start on Seed-Starting from Farmhouse38

I make no apologies!!!

Because of this raging mass of seeds, it is extremely important to me to be able to mark them accurately, once they go into their ‘pots’.  But the markers?  They must be cute.  See how I made these weather-resistant seed flags over here.

Weather-Resistant Seed Flags from Farmhouse38

And so begins this year’s experimentation….(and let it be stated for the record that I’m not claiming that any of this is gonna work!  Let’s find out, shall we?)

After purchasing several clear-ish Rubbermaid storage bins from the HD (Home Depot, that is), it was time to get crackin’.

An Early Start to Seed-Starting from Farmhouse38

Miniature greenhouse? Who’da thunk it?

An Early Start to Seed-Starting from Farmhouse38

A single bag of my foraged rolls.

The toilet paper roll prep was fairly simple.  Typically, I see this done where you fold the bottom of the roll up to create a little pot, but I wanted to make my rolls go as far as possible, and it seems like that wastes a perfectly good half of a roll.  So I cut mine in half (or in 5ths for the paper towel rolls) instead.

An Early Start to Seed-Starting from Farmhouse38

But how then, does one keep the soil inside the roll?  With a tiny square of paper towel, that’s how (1/16th of a single piece of paper towel, to be exact).  Cut (or rip, as I did) your small piece of paper towel and stuff it inside the TP roll so that it pretty neatly fills the inside of the ‘pot’.

An Early Start to Seed-Starting from Farmhouse38

With two fingers push the paper towel fragment down to the bottom of the TP roll.

An Early Start to Seed-Starting from Farmhouse38

With the bottom of the ‘pot’ sitting on a flat surface, fill it with seed-starting mix and tamp it gently down.

Now plant your seed of choice according to the seed-packet instructions, and line ’em up military-style inside your bins.  Be sure to mark them as you go!

An Early Start to Seed-Starting from Farmhouse38

With a working combination of toilet paper rolls, seed trays, and storage bins…. I haven’t even come close to planting all the varieties I bought.  ARG!!  Back to Home Depot with me.

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26 thoughts on “An Early Start to Seed-Starting

  1. mothlit February 23, 2013 at 8:35 pm Reply

    Totally dig it. I’ll start foraging for tp and pt rolls now, then start my Denver babies in March. Might do a little thrift store mining for plastic bins then head to HD (or the local brand thereof) if necessary.

    Such great tips. Based upon experiences last year, and watching my girlfriend’s garden grow, I sort of assumed I’d have to go with whatever the local nurseries were providing when it came to tomatoes. You’ve inspired me to try some different varieties from seed. Many thanks.

  2. Christi {Jealous Hands} February 23, 2013 at 8:54 pm Reply

    I LOVE the cutie flags! Now to get some tape…

  3. hopefarms February 24, 2013 at 1:15 am Reply

    I’m thoroughly enjoying your brilliance and creativity from all the way over here in somewhat-temperate-compared-to-North Dakota North Carolina. I wish I’d been more patient and not thrown those TP and PT rolls away in a fit of organizational chaos.

    Can’t wait to see updates on the progress!

    • farmhouseK8 February 24, 2013 at 5:22 am Reply

      Thanks, Sheila!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. home, garden, life February 24, 2013 at 4:04 pm Reply

    MOST clever, this idea! Now I will keep the rolls out of the compost bin until I use them one more time, yet I wonder if one could plant the roll? Ever tried this? Everything project you devise is beyond pretty! Kudos!

    • farmhouseK8 February 24, 2013 at 6:06 pm Reply

      I’ve never tried this before–but allegedly, you do just plant the toilet paper roll with the seedling and it biodegrades—so we shall see how well this works out! 🙂

      • home, garden, life February 24, 2013 at 6:09 pm

        Please keep us posted lady genius! 😉

      • farmhouseK8 February 24, 2013 at 6:14 pm

        You’re so funny! I will definitely do an update for this one! 🙂

  5. roberta February 25, 2013 at 12:53 am Reply

    Very organised! I just started saving the roles, be ready for next year…

    • farmhouseK8 February 25, 2013 at 1:01 am Reply

      I got a bit of a late start on saving the rolls, truth be told, and I most certainly do not have enough! Good to save them the whole year, I think! 🙂

  6. April S. February 25, 2013 at 5:54 pm Reply

    Great post! Your plastic bin greenhouse should work just fine. I have actually used a similar method (minus the TP rolls) using the little seed starter pods & plastic milk jugs & juice bottles as greenhouses before with reasonable success. That’s here in Michigan weather. I did them on my deck starting in March. The container protects them some from the weather and gives them a couple weeks head start – also solves the problem of hardening off the seedlings (which I have always struggled with). Looking forward to seeing updates!

    • farmhouseK8 February 25, 2013 at 11:59 pm Reply

      Thanks, April!! Very curious to see how this all turns out…. 🙂

  7. seasonedwithsarcasm February 25, 2013 at 8:51 pm Reply

    I’m loving the little flag markers! I’ll be crafting some of those this week. Last year, I was a little lazy with the marking of what seeds were what so I ended up not knowing how many of the 7 different pepper plants and 5 tomato plants actually seeded. Oops. I vow to be more diligent this year! I broke down and purchased a little 5 shelf green house too. We’ll see how it works. I’m scared to put it out in the yard with any seeds starting in it just yet. It’s still so stinkin’ cold here in western Pa! But I’m itchy to start gardening!

    • farmhouseK8 February 26, 2013 at 12:00 am Reply

      It’s so easy to get them mixed up! I still get them mixed up despite my best efforts. 🙂 Good luck with it this year!!

      • seasonedwithsarcasm February 26, 2013 at 1:45 pm

        Oh I know! And thanks. BTW, I whipped up some of these markers last night while watching tv. I’ve got loads of scrapbook paper and had a roll of clear packaging tape handy. And we always have bamboo skewers – because I usually use those to “stake” the tomato seedlings when they get too tall for their pots! Thanks again for the idea!

      • seasonedwithsarcasm February 26, 2013 at 1:45 pm

        Oh I know! And thanks. BTW, I whipped up some of these markers last night while watching tv. I’ve got loads of scrapbook paper and had a roll of clear packaging tape handy. And we always have bamboo skewers – because I usually use those to “stake” the tomato seedlings when they get too tall for their pots! Thanks again for the idea!

      • farmhouseK8 February 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm

        AWESOME!!! I bet they are so cute with scrapbooking paper–so much more variety! Love!

  8. Luisa February 26, 2013 at 3:53 pm Reply

    Love that the TP rolls are biodegradable!

    • farmhouseK8 February 26, 2013 at 7:30 pm Reply

      Me, too! Hope it works out–makes so much sense! 🙂

      • Luisa March 14, 2013 at 3:29 am

        So…I totally tried this and blogged about it. Gave you all the credit and showed your blog some love too! Hope it works! #fingerscrossed

      • farmhouseK8 March 14, 2013 at 3:00 pm

        Yay! Thanks, Luisa! Fun!

      • farmhouseK8 March 14, 2013 at 3:04 pm

        BTW….I just signed up to follow your blog–love it!

  9. Drea March 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm Reply

    I love, love, love gleaning ideas from others who explore ideas that I have only dreamed about!! I’ve never had a garden, but I have an upcycled celery, uh, bottom, lol, that has grown about 2 inches in the last 3 days! I’m so geeked!!!

    • farmhouseK8 March 22, 2013 at 4:37 pm Reply

      Oh–that’s awesome!! Sounds like a windowsill garden! 🙂

  10. Looking A Little Seedy Around Here April 11, 2013 at 3:00 am Reply

    […] start her seeds this year…and it inspired me to do the same. Below is a pic from her blog. She recycled toilet paper rolls to use as planters. I’m all about recycling so I decided to […]

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