Then I checked out the book Self-Sufficiency for the 21st Century from the library (which is an absolutely brilliant book I might add, do check it out) and happened upon the fantastic idea of repurposing toilet paper tubes for seed pots.
It was one of those moments where I gave my forehead a good slap and thought, now why didn't I think of that? I had been saving toilet paper tubes for months and had a paper grocery sack full. Lee had been bothering me about what I was going to use them for and why they were taking up space in our tiny house. I finally gave up on finding a good practical use for them and tossed them in the compost bin only just before the book had arrived. Grrr. Up to that point, I had been spending afternoons cutting newspaper into the right size strips and folding them around the pot maker carefully, pressing each one into it's own finished product. The toilet paper tube trick was sooo much simpler! And more convenient. And less time consuming. Plus, it put those tubes to use.
I know a lot of you probably just throw them away. Save them. Even if you don't have a garden yourself, you can teach a gardening friend how to do this and save your tubes for them! If you only have flower beds and buy annuals, save yourself some cash and grow your own! You might spend $2-$3 on a six pack of marigolds? You could grow a whole flat of 70 plants for about the same price.
After learning about this trick in Self-Sufficiency for the 21st Century, I then started finding several versions of this idea online, and everyone had some tiny twist that they did differently. Here's how I do it, as plain and simple as possible:
First of all, you are going to find a nice, shallow box to hold the tubes. I have discovered that repurposing our strawberry flats are perfect for the job. They hold a lot of tubes, you can probably squish about 68-70 tubes in the entire flat. Of course, any shallow box will work or you can cut a taller one down. Just be sure it's at least half of the height of the tubes. A little taller is fine too, just not so tall that the walls make too much shade. Your seedlings will want all the sun they can get.
The first simple step to make a TP Tube Seed Pot, is to make several little snips at one end of the tube. The snips should be about an inch long, and they should be about a half an inch apart.
When you are done snipping, you should have a tube that looks like this with a bunch of little flaps.
Next, fold the little flaps inward.
Voila! That's it. Don't worry about securing the flaps, that's not necessary. They will stay put once all of the tubes are squished back together in the box, snipped sides down of course. Fill with seed starting mix and plant your seeds. Simple.
Now is a good time to start saving your TP tubes so that you'll have a good supply on hand for next Spring's garden.