Roll With It... Or On It
I usually start my seeds indoors in mid-March. At some point during The Great Pause of COVID, I read an article about how to repurpose cardboard toilet paper rolls into seed cups. When seedlings are ready for the garden, you simply bury the entire cardboard cup, and it disintegrates in the soil. Genius, right? Last spring seemed like a good time to try it. The toilet paper shortage was mostly over, and my family of six leaves empty rolls stacked like Jenga blocks on the back of the toilet as if it’s game night, so I considered it meant to be. So I set to work making each roll into two little seed cups. I filled them with potting mix and added the seeds while my youngest daughter labeled each plant marker with the 30-ish different types of seeds we’d chosen. Finally, we set them into a big tray in the sunroom.
Now, I should mention three things here. First, our family adopted an adorable new COVID kitty, Juno, who can be a bit of a rascal. Second, Juno’s most favorite place in all the world is the sunroom. She loves to lie in front of the big windows, watch the birds, sleep in the sun, and make weird cat noises at the chipmunks through the glass. Third, this was the first time we were trying out a new germination mat under our seed tray. We figured we would be safe to start our seeds in this sunny space like all the years before since our other cat, Birdie, has never bothered with them. We were wrong, friends. We were wrong.
Cat vs. Seeds
The first day, Juno sniffed at the seed tray and gently batted at several. The second day, Juno walked through the seed tray, swishing her tail, knocking over the cardboard tubes, spilling some potting mix, all while looking us dead in the eye as if to say, “Is this going to be a problem?”
The third day, I came downstairs in the morning to find that every single tube had been tipped over and spilled in the tray. By now I was beyond annoyed as I haphazardly pressed the mix back into random containers and guessed at which seeds were which, since the plant markers were scattered across the floor.
The fourth day, we found Juno stretched out in the seed tray taking a nap in the sun. On the nice cozy germination mat. Covered in potting mix and seeds. Completely content. She slow- blinked at me a few times to let me know that this was how it was. So we threw the seeds out and decided to buy plants from the farmers market instead.
Making these biodegradable seed cups is actually quite easy!
Cut a toilet paper tube in half. On one end, cut four ¼-inch slits spaced evenly around the opening. Fold the flaps in like the bottom of a box, fill with potting mix, add a seed or two, spritz with water, make the hand motion of “I’m watching you” to your cat, and voilà! DIY seed cups.
When Jamie isn’t trying to wrestle her cat from the seed tray, you can find her curled up with a good book and a glass of wine pretending she can’t hear her four kids and husband asking what’s for dinner.