How To Use Toilet Rolls To Grow Great Carrots

Toilet roll plant pots
Image by Carmen Edenhofer

Have you ever wondered how to grow carrots in toilet rolls? This article will walk you through things to watch for as you germinate, cultivate and transplant these delicate seedlings.

To grow carrots in a toilet roll, stand up the tubes in a tray and tie all the tubes together. Moisten the soil to the desired wetness, and fill the toilet tubes. Put two seeds in each “pot” to ensure satisfying germination. Place the newly planted seeds in a sunny and warm location, and keep them well watered until they germinate in 2 to 3 weeks. Continue to keep the seedlings watered until transplant time. You can plant the whole tube right in the ground and it will decompose and feed the seedling at the same time.

Toilet paper rolls make great eco-friendly pots. However, there are some differences between them and traditional pots. Let’s take a look at how to grow carrots in empty toilet tubes.


5 Steps To Growing Carrots In Empty Toilet Paper Tubes

Carrots are not usually grown in pots. This is because the delicate seedlings are easily damaged during transplanting, and you wait until the seedling is more established, the long taproot quickly outgrows most pots. Starting carrot seeds in empty toilet rolls alleviates both of these issues. The length of the tube allows for the carrot to grow without hindrance. When transplanting time comes, the carrot can be planted into the garden, tube and all, with as little disturbance as possible.

  1. Prepare the toilet rolls
  2. Fill them with soil
  3. Plant the seeds
  4. Germination and care
  5. Transplant into the garden
Toilet paper tubes by Carmen Edenhofer
Image by Carmen Edenhofer

1. Prepare The Toilet Rolls

To prepare your toilet rolls for growing carrots, simply stand the rolls in a tray and tie them all together. Tying them together will add support and keep them from all falling over. Twine works well to tie them together as it is a biodegradable option for environmentally friendly disposal, but you can use whatever you have on hand. It is beneficial if your tray has high sides for additional support of the rolls.

Your tray can have drainage holes or can be solid. If you plan on starting your seeds in the house, such as on a window, a solid tray would be best to keep water from spilling out. Also, carrots germinate best with consistent moisture and a solid tray may make it easier to provide adequate moisture without soaking the tubes.

However, if your rolls get too wet they can collapse or burst. In this case, drainage might be better if you tend to be heavy-handed with the watering can.

Closing the bottom of the tube

If you plan on transplanting your carrots when they are still very small, you can close the bottom of the pot. Instructions for this can be found here.

2. Fill Them With Soil

Choose soil that is light and of good quality. Carrots do not grow well in dense, heavy soil as this impedes root development. You can purchase potting soil or use soil from your own garden. Carrots do not require heavy amounts of fertilizer or amendments, but having about a third of the mix as compost will feed the seedlings, and provide nutrients after transplanting. Compost also helps keep the soil light and airy for the developing roots.

Toilet rolls with soil by Carmen Edenhofer
Image by Carmen Edenhofer

Since carrots do well in constantly moist soil, it might be beneficial to dampen the soil prior to filling the pots. This starts the soil off with adequate moisture, without having to water too heavily. Heavy watering can disturb the tiny seeds and you also run the risk of over-saturating the toilet paper tubes. Put the soil you need in a bowl and slowly add water until the soil is damp enough to form into a ball when you squeeze it but dry enough that it is still crumbly.

Fill the pots with the moistened soil and lightly pack them down. Again, carrots don’t like heavily compacted soil but you don’t want the soil to settle too much, either. You can fill the soil right to the top of the tube as this will make it easier when it comes time to transplant.

3. Plant The Carrot Seeds

Plant one or two seeds in each tube. If both seeds germinate, you will likely have to thin one of them out but this is better than having a pot without any carrot at all. Many carrot seeds have a fairly low germination rate so most of your pots will end up with one carrot in each.

Carrot seeds are very small so sow them 6 mm (1/4) deep otherwise they might get smothered. To handle such fine seeds, use a slightly damp toothpick to pick up the seed, and another toothpick to push the seed off into the soil. You can also buy pelleted seeds, which is when the carrot seeds are coated in clay to make them easier to handle.

4. Germination And Care

Keep the pots in a warm, sunny spot to germinate and grow. A window ledge, sunny room, or greenhouse is ideal. Carrots need full sun to grow (at least 6 hours each day) and germinate in a soil temperature between 7°C to 30°C (45°F-86°F), but the best temperature is around 20°C (68°F). The sunnier and warmer the conditions the faster the germination will be but make sure the soil doesn’t dry out in the warmth.

Keep the soil moist from seedling right up until transplanting. As you wait for your seeds to germinate, it is a good idea to water with a spray bottle or mister. Pouring water over the seedlings runs the risk of moving the seeds around or washing them away altogether. Even once your seeds have sprouted, a slow of water can easily flatten the delicate seedlings.

Watering can by Carmen Edenhofer
Image by Carmen Edenhofer

5. Transplant Into The Garden

To transplant your seedlings into the garden, dig a small hole big enough to hold one of the tubes. Very carefully (because the bottoms are open) pick up a tube and put it in the hole so that the soil in the tube is level with the ground. Backfill the hole around the tube. Cut off any of the toilet paper roll that sticks up or it will rob moisture from the carrot.

When to transplant your seedlings into the garden is up to you. Carrots seedlings can be transplanted when they are 1 to 2 weeks old, but in many cases, it might be best to wait until they are a little more established as carrot seedlings are very delicate. Whenever you decide to transplant the carrot seedlings, make sure you do it before the tubes completely break down.

It is essential to harden off the seedlings prior to transplant, or in other words, acclimatize them to the outside temperature and weather. This can be accomplished by first taking the seedlings outside in the day, and bringing them in at night until they are used to being outside. (Since you will be moving the tray of tubes inside and out, this is another reason why it is a good idea to tie all the tubes together).


Ecofriendly Food Production

So much of our modern food production is hard on the environment. Large-scale production, storage, and transportation have a heavy impact at each stage of production. Growing your own food greatly reduces this impact, and even more so when you can use eco-friendly and recycled options. Using empty toilet paper tubes takes the waste from one industry (pun intended), and utilizes it in another.

Not only are you growing your own food, but you are feeding the soil and reducing your carbon footprint at the same time.

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.