Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023
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Starting any plant indoors can give you a jump start on the season. It can be particularly beneficial to start your sweet peas indoors so you can get the most of your blossoms. Here is an eco-friendly guide on how to start your seeds in recycled toilet paper tubes.
To make pots out of toilet paper tubes, you first seal off the end of the "pot" and fill it with your choice of growing medium. Then, plant your seedling and keep them watered (being careful not to soak the paper tubes). When your seedlings are big enough, it is time to transplant them into your garden.
Upcycling is a great way to reduce your environmental impact. Using recycled toilet paper tubes is a great way to do this, plus benefit your garden at the same time. We are going to look at how to plant sweet peas in old toilet paper rolls.
Using empty toilet paper tubes is a great way to upcycle. Once the old paper tubes have fulfiled their number 1 purpose (or is that number two?), they can be used in a variety of ways. They make great pots to start sweet pea seedling for transplanting into your garden.
One benefit of using old toilet paper tubes is that they can be planted directly in the garden with the seedling still inside. The tube will decompose over time and feed the plant in the process. Because of this, toilet paper tube pots are ideally suited for any plant that does not like to have its roots disturbed (typically anything you would direct sow) such as the sweet pea.
Sweet peas produce long tap roots which will quickly outgrow small pots or seedling trays, causing the roots to curl and get compacted, and ultimately stunt its growth. You can buy special seed-starting pots designed specifically for long taproots, but who doesn't have hundreds of empty toilet paper tubes at their disposal?
Starting your sweet peas in toilet paper tubes is very simple. Here are five steps covering preparing the pots to planting them into your garden.
Read Next: 2 Ways to eliminate toilet paper dust.
Image by Stacie
Start by squeezing the tubes into a square. This step isn't necessary, but it helps the finished pots be a little more stable than when they are left round. Start by squishing the tube flat. Then, line up the two creases you just made and squish it flat again. Now you will have four creases that become the sides of the square.
On one end of the tube, cut about 2cm (1 inch) down along the four creases, making four little flaps on one end of the pot. Fold the little flaps over and overlap them like you would if you were closing a cardboard box. This will be the bottom of the pot and keep the dirt from falling out.
If you plan on leaving your sweet peas in their pots for a long time, you can leave the pot open to maximize its length. If you do, be careful when you pick them up so the dirt (and seedling) don't fall out.
Now put your finished pots into a tray with drainage holes. This keeps them stable and makes them easier to move. If your pots still feel slightly tipsy, you can tie twine around them for extra support.
Read Next: How to grow peas all year long.
Fill your pots with potting soil, compost, or whatever planting medium you prefer. It is always beneficial to half fill the pots with compost, and then fill the rest with soil. The soil creates a nice space for the seeds to germinate, and the compost provides nutrients as the seedlings grow.
Water the soil so it is a nice, damp environment for the seeds to germinate. While the seeds will benefit from a moist environment, make sure you do not water so much as to soak the toiler rolls. This can cause them to sag and collapse. The toilet paper tubes can get wet just as long as they are not saturated. (If you have ever accidentally dropped a roll of toilet paper into the toilet, you will have a good idea how much water the tubes can actually hold).
Image by Stacie
It is helpful to soak your sweet pea seeds for 24 hours prior to planting. This isn't imperative, but the soaking will soften the outer shell of the seed, and they will germinate faster.
Now it is time to put in your seeds. Put one seed in each pot. This is important because when it comes time to transplant, you do not want to handle the delicate seedlings unnecessarily by having to separate them. Sweet pea seeds are a decent size to handle, so it is fairly easy to put one seed per roll.
Now, you can sit back and watch your seedlings emerge. Keep the potting medium moist, but not wet as peas can easily rot if the soil is too damp. Place the tray in a nice sunny spot. A window sill works wonderful, but in your greenhouse or on a heating tray if you have one is great. Sweet pea seeds like a soil temperature of 12°C to18°C for ideal germination.
The seeds will typically take 10 to 20 days to germinate, and you will soon see the first shoots peeking through.
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When your garden is ready, and your seedlings have been acclimated to the outdoors, transplant your flowers into the garden. Dig a small hole in your bed and put in the seedling, pot, and all. Before you put in the plant, you can carefully open the bottom of the roll to free the taproot. However, this isn't necessary as the toilet paper tube will quickly decompose and the root will grow right through it.
Cut off any of the tube that sticks up above the top of the soil. Otherwise it will wick valuable moisture away from the plant.
Image by Oregon State University
Reducing our waste by reusing "garbage" is a very important aspect of sustainability. This is true on the homestead or in a city backyard. It is an added bonus when this garbage can be used to improve the quality of the soil that most modern growing methods are quickly depleting. In a small way, something as simple as using old toilet paper tubes to grow a beautiful flower can have a large impact on the health and vitality of the land.
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