Introduction: Recycled Seed Starters

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Audrey Hepburn once said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” One of our favorite ways to celebrate Earth Day is to start a garden by planting seeds in upcycled containers! Upcycling is a type of recycling that anyone can do at home by taking things you would normally throw away and reusing them. Today, we will be taking toilet paper rolls and plastic fruit containers and using them to plant seeds!

Have you ever planted a seed and watched it grow?

Seeds are made by many species of plants and are used to help the plants reproduce or make more plants. A seed is made of three parts: a seed coat, an embryo, and endosperm. The seed coat protects the contents of the seed from drying out and senses when conditions are just right for the seed to start growing into a plant. The embryo is a little baby plant, complete with a leaf and roots. Endosperm is a special food supply stored inside the seed to keep the embryo fed until it is time for the seed to start growing.

When a seed is given the things it needs to grow, it will go through a process called germination. Germination, or sprouting, is when the embryo inside of the seed starts to emerge and grow into a plant. What do seeds need to grow? The answer to this question often depends on the type of seed, but most seeds need water, oxygen, soil and sunlight.

To learn more about plants and gardening,




- toilet paper rolls

-a plastic fruit container or small box to hold your seed cups in





-potting soil

Step 1: Cut the Toilet Paper Rolls

Cut the toilet paper rolls in half so that you have two smaller tubes and then make three ½ inch tabs on one end of the tubes by cutting toward the middle of the roll as shown.

Step 2: Fold the Tabs In

Fold the tabs inward to create a small cup. Repeat for all of your toilet paper roll halves.

Step 3: Fill Your Seed Cups With Soil

Fill each of your seed cups to the brim with soil. You do not need to pack it in very tightly! Place the filled seed cups in your plastic fruit container. When closed, a fruit container acts kind of like a greenhouse, trapping heat and moisture in with the plants. If you don’t have a fruit container, you can use a plate, cardboard box, or tray to hold your seed cups!

Step 4: Wet the Soil Before Planting

It is always a good idea to water your soil before planting seeds! The seed cups will leak out of the bottom hole a little bit when you water them- this is okay! It is important for plants to have drainage, or a way for water to escape from the soil, to prevent the plants from being over watered.

Step 5: Plant and Label Your Seeds!

Once your seeds are in the soil, it will be hard to tell which plant is which until they grow a little. This can take days, or even weeks to happen! One way to know what you planted and where you planted it is to use plant labels. I made simple plant labels out of cardstock covered in tape, but you can get creative with yours! When you plant your seeds, label the cups. I like to use a spoon to make holes to put my seeds in, but you can use your fingers if you’d like. Read the seed packet for instructions on how deep the seed should be planted.

Step 6: Place Outside, Water Regularly and Watch Them Grow!

Your seeds are ready to grow! Find a sunny spot, either outside or near a window, and check on your seeds daily. Depending on what you chose to grow, you may seed sprouts coming up in just a few days! When your plants start to outgrow the toilet paper rolls, you can transfer them to a larger container or garden bed simply by planting the whole toilet paper roll into the soil.

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