Seed germination in winter

I’ve always wanted a greenhouse to be able to grow all the exotic plants that require constant warmth and to germinate seeds in advance before spring.  But obviously I’ve been looking inside the box by trying to find one that doesn’t break our bank!

One day, the thought of a terrarium came into my mind.  No, I’m not really into ornamental house plants.  But a terrarium is kind of like a mini greenhouse.  At the same time, I was looking at how to use the empty toilet paper tubes and imagined that it would be very similar to those jiffy peat pots that you can raise seeds in and then plant the whole thing to reduce transplant shock.  So instead of recycling those empty toilet paper tubes, I collected them and when I had enough, I did this.

1. Label the empty toilet paper tubes.

2. On one end of the tube, fold inwards from 90° and 270°.  Make sure that the sides meet closely or overlap slightly.

empty toilet paper tube for raising seeds
Label and fold one end

3. Then fold again from 0° and 180°.  It helps if your first 2 folds were well creased.

4. Turn the tube the right way up so you can see the inside.  Press the folds flat (from the inside onto a flat surface) so that they hold well.

Empty toilet paper tubes for raising seeds
Fold again across the first fold

5. Fill the tubes with potting mix (or whatever works well for you).  I find that it is better for the potting medium to be damp first than having to water it later as overwatering will make the environment too humid and lead to mould forming.  As you can see, I’ve run out of tubes and used a styrofoam cup which the kids have played with but too good to throw out.  If you are using that, you have to transplant unless you cut the bottom away?

6. Arrange the tubes in the canister and sprinkle the seeds on top of the potting medium.

Tubes with soil in canister
Fill tubes and arrange in canister

7. Top up the tubes with potting medium to the required level.

8. Cover the canister and wait!

mini greenhouse for raising seeds
Mini greenhouse for raising seeds

I have managed to germinate 2 batches already (which is why I ran out of empty toilet paper tubes).  The first was cauliflower and the other was edible chrysanthemum.  Both of these I did indoors (by the window – southern aspect), germinated quickly but I found that they grew quite spindly.  So I’m now trying this outside against a north facing wall/window.  So far, it looks like it’s taking longer than indoors since the overnight temperatures should be lower.  Let’s see if it will be successful outdoors.

I hope you will have even better success than I did.  I reckoned it was worth a try as it won’t really cost anything and it will put all those toilet paper tubes to good use!  Have fun germinating seeds!

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