Toilet roll tubes

If you would like advice from the Kitchen Garden editorial team, ask here. Steve, Emma or Tony will pop in with their best advice.

Moderators: KG Steve, Chantal, Tigger, peter

Corby80
KG Regular
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:19 am
Location: Derbyshire
x 5

Toilet roll tubes

Postby Corby80 » Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:59 am

In the August issue of the mag, there is a debate about using toilet rolls for sowing (page 17) so I thought I should share my own experience. I have had very mixed results using these for sowing things like runner/french/broad beans and other large seeds and I believe this is due to the composition of these tubes. If you look at the inside, most of these tubes have a white painted? inside. This actually makes them quite difficult to water as it seems to inhibit the whole tube getting moist and germination has sometimes been erratic or maybe there's some chemical in the coating.
As a result of this I have switched to using the inside tubes of kitchen rolls which are pure cardboard with no coating on the inside. The only problem is that they are much longer so I cut them in half or into 3 for smaller seeds. When filled with compost they fit very snugly into a 24 section module tray so they stay upright. The only other issue is that when wet they start to unravel at the top so I stop this by sticking a small amount of masking tape across the join and this works very well. At the moment I have a tray of Carrot Autumn King germinating well and when they are about 1/2 inch tall, ie before the roots reach the bottom of the tube, I will thin them to one seedling and plant them out in their tubes very close to each other using a bulb planter as when cut in half these tubes are about the same length. Hopefully this will also stop them forking as they will hit no obstacle in growing. I'll let you know what happens.
2 x
Breq
KG Regular
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:54 pm
x 13

Re: Toilet roll tubes

Postby Breq » Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:47 pm

It must be brand-related as my loo roll tubes are not white inside. So it must just depend - good spotting! I collect them in a basket and outside of sowing season they are torn up and added to the compost bin. I guess I don’t use enough paper towels to try cutting them down for use! :D

I use them every year for my broad beams and sweet corn with no issues; the plants grow lovely with good roots. I just pack them into a tray, add the compost and use a small round pot tamper to ensure it gets to the bottom (not hard pressed, just tamped). Works great. I have roottrainers (bought ages ago on the cheap) that I use for my climbing French beans and climbing flowers. But I like the loo rolls for these crops, deep enough and small enough footprint.
0 x
Westi
KG Regular
Posts: 4830
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2008 4:46 pm
Location: Christchurch, Dorset
x 863

Re: Toilet roll tubes

Postby Westi » Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:15 pm

Mine aren't white inside either which is good! I bought a 'book' type root trainer, but I don't like it at all. There are no individual rows for each tray & just the volume of them keeps them secure, but then the ones beside open if you take a row out for transplanting and the end ones don't clip closed so compost slips out when you water. Anyway, as such I am back on loo or kitchen towel rolls & they are so much better. I use a paper clip at the top to prevent it unraveling & like the way it disintegrates in the ground so the roots are not disturbed at all. I also use the bulb planter for these.
1 x
Westi
Monika
KG Regular
Posts: 4396
Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2006 8:13 pm
Location: Yorkshire Dales
x 727

Re: Toilet roll tubes

Postby Monika » Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:16 pm

I gave up on using toilet paper or kitchen paper rolls years ago because, unless the weather was very wet, they did not disintegrate enough for the roots to penetrate, and the plants just rooted out of the bottom. We bought a number of root trainer trays, both short and tall, when they first came out (must be more than 20 years ago?) and they are still going strong. I know they are expensive to buy now, but they will repay you with years of service and such ease of growing and planting - no comparison to paper rolls!
0 x
Corby80
KG Regular
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:19 am
Location: Derbyshire
x 5

Re: Toilet roll tubes

Postby Corby80 » Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:41 pm

Breq, yes it must be the brand, we use Cushelle (not at all swayed by TV adverts!!!!). I also use Roottrainers for broad/climbing french/runner beans but only to save the tubes. I like the fact that you can just plant the whole thing without disturbing the roots. Great idea to add to compost, I have a hot bin and use a lot of grass cuttings so need to use extra shredded paper/cardboard as grass contains a lot of liquid so i get a lot of leachate.
Westi, have you come across the green container for 20 root trainers (4×5) which are compartments so you can remove one set without disturbing the other? Can't remember where I got them but will send photo if it helps.
Monica, good point about their disintegration but must admit not experienced that. However rooting out of the bottom might be just what needed for carrots, we shall see.
Regards all.
1 x
Westi
KG Regular
Posts: 4830
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2008 4:46 pm
Location: Christchurch, Dorset
x 863

Re: Toilet roll tubes

Postby Westi » Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:26 pm

Corby I have not! The idea behind them seemed sound & I didn't buy the cheapest but what was delivered was not as expected! I would appreciate pic if not inconvenient!
0 x
Westi
Stephen
KG Regular
Posts: 1589
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Butts Meadow, Berkhamsted
x 646

Re: Toilet roll tubes

Postby Stephen » Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:00 pm

Westi, I agree about the book type "root-trainers". Too flimsy to hold their shape, like you I got really annoyed when removing one "book" everything else fell over or apart. The plastic cracked, the "hinge" failed.
Probably the biggest disappointment of my gardening (only started in 2002). Strongly NOT recommended.
1 x
Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
Corby80
KG Regular
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:19 am
Location: Derbyshire
x 5

Re: Toilet roll tubes

Postby Corby80 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:32 pm

Westi, if you put 'compact rapid root trainers' into an Amazon search, they will come up immediately sold by Haxnicks at £7.99.
Steven, I have had the same experience with root trainer books bought recently, but have had them for a number of years and first bought them at the Malvern spring show a number of years ago and these are much more sturdy, but of course over time I have to replace them with new ones which are no where near as good quality.
If either of you buy the compact version from Haxnicks you might find the enclosed books are more substantial.
Regards.
1 x
User avatar
Geoff
KG Regular
Posts: 5092
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2005 5:33 pm
Location: Forest of Bowland
x 830

Re: Toilet roll tubes

Postby Geoff » Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:26 am

The quality went down soon after the original patentees sold out to Haxnicks.
1 x
Breq
KG Regular
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:54 pm
x 13

Re: Toilet roll tubes

Postby Breq » Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:23 am

Interesting Geoff, mine must be pre-sell-out. They are old but I take good care of them. I did see some in the last year or so and thought the material did look a lot thinner than mine. Shame. A great idea let down by the cost savings of using flimsy materials.
1 x
User avatar
Primrose
KG Regular
Posts: 7079
Joined: Tue Aug 29, 2006 8:50 pm
Location: Bucks.
x 1486

Re: Toilet roll tubes

Postby Primrose » Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:06 am

I have used loo rolls in the past with mixed results. I cram them all into a container to prevent them falling over and have a tendency to overwater my climbing bean seeds which has meant many of them have rotted rather than germinated, and in the container they tend to disintegrate. It also means that compost falls in between the rolls when trying to fill them up which ends in a generally messy situation.

This year I sowed my beans individually in reasonably sized individual cell trays and had almost 100% germination for the first time in years so I don't think I'll be reverting back to loo rolls, except in an emergency. They won't be wasted though as those which arn't saved for next year's emergency will be torn up and put on the compost heap.
0 x
Monika
KG Regular
Posts: 4396
Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2006 8:13 pm
Location: Yorkshire Dales
x 727

Re: Toilet roll tubes

Postby Monika » Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:40 pm

On the root trainers: they are still perfectly usable even if the 'hinge' breaks as long as they are in their holding trays. If I only want to use few rather than a whole 32-part tray, I put them in an ex-ice cream tub which usually holds 3 x 4-part strips. I certainly would not want to be without them.
0 x
Corby80
KG Regular
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:19 am
Location: Derbyshire
x 5

Re: Toilet roll tubes

Postby Corby80 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 1:08 pm

Primrose, yes I understand your problem which is another reason why I started to use the inner tubes from kitchen rolls as they are slightly less diameter than toilet tubes and fit very snugly into a 24 section modules tray. In terms of filling I firstly make sure the compost is slightly moist and then half fill each tube individually. I have made myself a little tamper from a cotton reel and 6" nail which I use to firm the compost in the tube, then put in the seed and fill to the top and tamp down and then put in the module tray. I do this individually with each tube, a bit fiddley but it works. I then put module tray in seed tray and water until each tube has soaked up water and leave to germinate.
1 x
Blackbird
KG Regular
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:15 am

Re: Toilet roll tubes

Postby Blackbird » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:05 pm

When planting out toilet rolls, make sure that the cardboard is below the soil surface, otherwise it will wick water up and become dry.
0 x

Return to “Ask the team”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest