Don’t Let Those Toliet Paper Tubes Go to Waste!

So, you’ve been hoarding toilet paper, eh? I mean, you could have just got a bidet, butt, no judgments here…

We are living in uncertain times, my friends. I feel like every day I wake up to a new page in a real-life dystopian novel I was too blissfully ignorant to write myself. When fiction becomes real life, well, that’s when the shit gets real, right?

And speaking of shit, there’s a lot more that a discarded toilet paper tube can do for you. Beyond child toy of endless entertainment possibilities, tp tubes actually make great seed-starting pots.

The internets do not agree on what the best method is. Some say cut them in half. Some say cut off the top third. Some say cut nothing except for the flaps. I say let your situation dictate how you cut them. It’s not a science.

My situation said I needed a lot of tubes, so I would cut mine in half. It said that I had exactly less-than-a-week to gather everything I’d ever need in life. Let’s just say that the apples have been falling far, far away from this proverbial tree (blog) and my urban-homesteading and preparedness ways of yore had been slowly dissolving to make space for a new me. One that trades CSA shares in favor of growing her own garden, and one who was buying things instead of making them at home.

I have been making space for a mother who was preparing to (finally) work outside the home again. Or from home. But at any rate, a mother who was making space for herself aside from her children, and what that looked like for me was time. I had slowly backed off from trading all of my time for urban homesteading pursuits to instead trade my words for money. So, my pantry was sparse, my preps were low and I had soooo many things to gather.

Short story long, I had no seed pots. I had only old seeds. Dear Husband and I had just begun to rip out six of our nine garden beds to level them out and plant, wait for it… grass. I hear your proverbial sighs ripple over your keyboards. But grass meant that I could devote more time to writing here and here, and the fewer things I had to keep alive the better, because I have been busy tending to my garden of words.

But now that’s all been changed. In an instant. In a flash. Every news notification that came through on my phone the past few weeks was always another revolution away from normal life in this spinning wheel of existence. Some things that used to be important now feel meaningless, and they are – when you wake up every day thankful to be alive and wonder how you will keep it that way.

How I have decided I will keep it that way is through toilet paper tubes. We don’t have an abundance of them because we didn’t hoard the tp, but when we do liberate another inner tube, we put it to good use. Thankfully, amazingly, we turned our leveled garden beds back into an enormous garden and scraped together enough materials to fence it off from our pandemic puppy.

Use your tp tubes to start your seeds. Cut four slits equally and across from one another and fold down the flaps to create a base. Tuck the last one under in the way you do a box you want to keep shut. Fill it with potting mix, your delicate seeds, and solid hopes for the future. When it comes time to plant, drop the whole thing into a hole, tube and all, or gently peel the tube away. The effect is the same. You’re working to feed yourself, and that feels good.

In this new period of forced resourcefulness, we have found other things to start our resilience garden with. We’re not calling it a victory garden, although we are in a way, at war. We are calling it our resilience garden because we want to teach our children that when your life breaks down, your resiliency determines how much you grow. Our garden will grow big, and tall and wide we tell them. It will feed our bodies and our hearts.

Our seedlings are finding homes in eggshells, empty milk cartons from the lunches we’ve been picking up provided by the school district, and in yogurt cups, fruit cups, etcetera. Anything that is small, will hold dirt and can have drain holes pricked into the bottom (if not a tp tube) will work.

Last week I called my grandma. I wanted to know more about what life was like during the war. We have this conversation often, but it felt especially relevant and familiar to have it now. She gave me hope. She said, “We made do. We never really went without. And we survived.”

One Comment

  1. Thanks, Jerica! Love your snappy writing! I’m getting ready to plant seeds here for a balcony garden.

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