The Priceless Value of Shoeboxes & Cardboard Toilet Paper Rolls to a Gardener


I had planned on sharing a few pumpkin recipes today; however, our oven is on the fritz. This means I was not able to do any baking or take photos of the mysterious pumpkin yummies. We’ll try again in a few weeks.

When you can’t share pumpkin recipes the very next logical thought is, “Talk about cardboard.” Right?

First let me say, I’ve not done a ton of research on paper or cardboard. However, I know some people have concerns about the chemicals used in paper products. Naturally, the more you can stick to absolute natural materials the better off you’ll be.

Okay, now back to the list. :)

Here are just a few ways gardeners make use of shoeboxes, cardboard toilet paper rolls, newspapers, and other paper products.

1. Toilet Paper Roll Seed Starter Containers

Do a word search for toilet paper roll seed starters, and you’ll see a plethora of images on this idea. They’re easy to make and inexpensive.

A few months from now we’ll all be counting the weeks until our last frost-free date. This is also about the time you’ll want to start getting an indoor head-start on seedlings. So, start saving your toilet paper rolls. :D

2. Lasagna Gardening

Lasagna gardening is often referred to as sheet composting or as a no-till gardening.

Just like the pasta lasagna entrée, lasagna gardening is a process of layering. Layers of newspaper or corrugated cardboard, leaf mulch, grass clippings, hay or straw, manure, compost, and other organic matter are used. There’s no mixing, tilling, or “stirring” involved; just laying materials on top each other. All of these layers eventually decompose, creating nutrient-dense no-till soil.

There are many ways to provide your plants with the soil and habitat for microorganisms plants need. Lasagna gardening is one way to do that.

3. Compost Worm Bedding

Red wigglers and other compost worms use moist shredded paper or torn cardboard pieces for their bedding and as a food source. Shoeboxes, cardboard toilet paper rolls, old church bulletins, photocopy paper, newspaper, non-slick junk mail, etc. are the perfect building materials for a worm home.

Want to know more about vermicomposting? Check out my Compost Worms 101 series.

worm bedding 1worm bedding 2

4. Shoebox Winter Hibernation Chamber for Tender Bulbs

Tender bulbs have to be lifted or dug up in areas that experience cold winters, to be stored for a winter hibernation.

Lifting or digging up tender bulbs: Dig around the bulbs and roots, but be careful not to cut open, bruise, or otherwise damage the bulbs or roots.

Preparing tender bulbs for storage: Carefully remove any dirt or mud, and allow the bulbs and roots to dry. Do not rinse; just brush off the dirt. Make sure you place them in an area out of direct sunlight and from any wind or draft while they’re drying.

There are many types of bulbs: true bulbs, corms, tubers, tuberous roots, and rhizomes. Depending on the type and size of bulb, it can take anywhere from 1 day to as long as 3 weeks for the bulbs to dry. You don’t want them dried up, shriveled, and crunchy. :) You’re just wanting them good and dry so as to prevent rotting while they’re stored for the winter.

Storing tender bulbs: Find a cardboard box and place a thick layer of shredded newspaper (or shredded toilet paper rolls) in the bottom. Some people use peat moss instead of paper. Place the bulbs in the box in a single layer with plenty of air space between each bulb. Do not let the bulbs touch. This will help prevent any cross contamination of disease or rotting. Apply another generous layer of shredded paper on top of the bulbs and repeat. You can also wrap the bulbs individually in newspaper.

Place the box in an area of the house or garage that’s dark, dry, and cold (approximately 45 degrees Fahrenheit, although the precise temperature depends on the specific plant).

Checking on hibernating tender bulbs: Check on the bulbs a few times during the winter to make sure any bad bulbs are tossed out (into the trash or compost pile) before they bring down the health of the remaining bulbs.

How do you make use of shoeboxes, cardboard toilet paper rolls, and other paper products for your garden?

This was shared on the following blog hops and link-ups:
From the Farm Blog Hop
Homestead Barn Hop
Simple Lives Thursday
The Homesteaders Hop
Wednesday’s Prayer Girls & Link-Up Party

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4 comments to The Priceless Value of Shoeboxes & Cardboard Toilet Paper Rolls to a Gardener

  • B

    Thanks for more great ideas!
    I also use cardboard tubes (cut in half) as protection for my newly transplanted seedlings against pests, such as cutworms.

  • Hpuletz

    I bought a pot of beautiful calla lillies around Mother’s Day, but I’m pretty sure they have to be dug up for winter. Instead, I just put the pot in the basement. Will that work? Do they have to be dry if I’m keeping them in the pot indoors?

    • Holly

      I’ve not used pots for my calla lilies; although, I might next year.

      They should be fine. Make sure the soil isn’t too wet, and be sure to put the flower pots in a dark area (unless you’re wanting to let them bloom in a window sill).

      When you get ready to bring them back outdoors after the weather warms up, give them some good fresh soil.

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