Over the winter I came across a blog post that recommended using emptied toilet paper rolls as mini pots for starting seeds. It looked neat, clean, and easy, and it seemed like a great way to use up a free resource. The author simply cut the tubes in half, placed the smooth (uncut) side down in a baking dish, and filled the tubes to 1″ from the top with damp soil. Seeds were placed on the soil and buried to the appropriate depth.
I could have been neater about it — here’s what I wound up with when I planted peas:
When I added a little water many of the rolls immediately began to unravel. Right now I think they have enough integrity that when the seeds sprout I’ll still be able to plant the plugs without too much drama. As it is, added water needs to go on the bottom of the dish, otherwise all the soil would wash out of the tubes.
I also did some tweaking on the lighting rig. It’s now smaller, at about 20″ x 8″:
The lights are now nearly touching each other, and the light is much more concentrated. The lights themselves are around 1-1/2″ above the soil. It’s very bright, if only in a small space of 16″ x 8″. That’s enough room for direct light on about 15 paper roll tubes. The dish could probably hold 25 tubes or so. It seems like a good compromise that doesn’t totally dominate the counter top.
The first time I tried the lighting rig (version 1.0) most of the plants wound up leggy, partly because the lights were a ways apart, and (I think) partly because I needed to leave the lights on for more hours than I did. This time I’m targeting ~16 hours a day. 16-18 hours seems to be the consensus on the interweb. We’ll see. Assuming this works we’ll start beans and Brussel Sprouts the same way in a couple of months.