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Paper Tube Seed Collars For Direct Seed Sowing

I couple of years ago I purchased some ridiculously expensive seeds. I knew I was going to direct sow the seeds in the garden and I knew that eventually I'd forget where they planted and would probably get neglected. That same day I had made a number of homemade seeds pots, in particular some paper tube seed pots and I got the idea to take the paper tube seed pots outdoors in the garden.

Out I went into the garden with extra paper tubes, some seeds and a pair of scissors. I cut the paper tube into sections about an inch tall and sunk them into the soil, I then placed a couple of seeds inside of each of the sections of paper tube and watered them in.

paper tube seed collars and seeds

Here's an image of the paper tube seed collars to give you an idea of what it looks like. I took advantage of the warm weather we're having in Chicago today and took my nephew with me into the garden to help me direct sow some seeds. I'm direct sowing Asclepias syrica, Common Milkweed, seeds that I took from some Asclepias seed pods I found in an empty lot this past winter. Common Milkweed is a native perennial plant to Illinois but doesn't produce fertile seeds without cross-pollination, but since I found a patch of them growing together I'm being optimistic. I'm also planting Asclepias currasavica in the garden in the hopes of boosting my butterfly variety this year beyond the 'Red Admiral' Butterflies that already visit the garden in droves.

paper tube seed collars, direct seed sowing
I don't do a lot of weeding in my garden because even the lowliest of weeds have a benefit of some kind if I think about it, but making seed & seedling collars out of paper tubes helps me remember where I direct sowed seeds in the garden. I find this really helpful especially with seeds that I've never grown before and can't recognize the seedlings from weeds. The seed collars also come in handy the times when I give a garden chore to the nephew (4-year-old) who is always looking to "help." Sometimes I'll let him pull some weeds or dig around in the dirt and with the seed collars he knows what is a "plant" that should be left alone or not stepped on.

The seed collars also help me conserve water because instead of watering all of the garden to keep the seeds moist before they sprout, I can keep the watering concentrated to the areas where I know new seeds have been planted.

If you want to get fancy you can write the name of the seeds on the sections of the paper tube before or after you cut them. Unlike the plastic plant & seed markers the paper tubes will eventually decompose. I suppose that you could also plop a seed collar around an established seedling to protect it from garden slugs and snails. Coat the seed collar with a repellent the same way Margarita Glasses are salted. I'm a big supporter of using items recyclables to grow seeds but if you're new to growing from seed or gardening in general direct sowing seeds where you want them to grow in your garden is a great option, just follow the instructions on the seed packet.

More Seed Starting Posts:

Paper Tube Seed Pot Holders
Homemade Seed Pots
Ghetto Greenhouse
Sandwich Bag Seed Starter
Direct Sowing In The Garden
One Seed Chicago 2009
Edible Gardening in 2009


  1. That is a great idea! I always forget
    about the seeds.

  2. What a clever idea! And it is great that you are passing on this knowledge to the young one, my memories of helping Daddy in the garden stayed with me ... and I didn't even know I was listening :)

  3. Those paper collars are great for attracting earthworms too as they decompose. Why oh why did I not save my TP tubes? Thanks, Mr. BT, I will remember this idea when I plant my fall/winter garden seeds.

  4. I'm new to gardening and LOVE this idea. I've got about a 20x3 foot area to work with, which is a bit overwhelming when i think about it, and a 5 year old who also likes to help (which translated into trampling and digging mostly)

  5. Great idea (You always have them!) :-) Thanks.

  6. I like this idea. I always overseed and this sounds like it would curb my excess. Especially since I also dislike thinning . . .

  7. You are a genius! What a great idea. I always end up forgetting where I planted certain seeds, and they end up getting pulled out (if I don't recognize them) or neglected. I'm going to do this in my garden this spring.

  8. I love this idea- I am trying a veggie patch this spring and I have already forgotton what is where. I have been saving paper tubes since you posted about them months ago- will have to put them to use now!

  9. Clever. I did my wintersowing using paper tubes; passed this on a!

  10. Good idea Mr. BT. Me thinks it'll be used here. That is if I can remember to save the empty tubes. ;~)

  11. Hi,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday.I read your blog quite often and this idea for the paper collars is such a good one. I have little "helpers" once in a while and this is an easy way to show them where not to step.I have learned a lot from you. Thanks

  12. I love it! Thank you! I'll be using this idea this year.

  13. How frickin' ingenious! Love this idea...makes for a leaner, greener, more efficient garden. Can't wait to try this in a few weeks!

  14. These would be so great for cut worms. And they'll compost down into soil, you can't beat reducing garbage and increasing garden soil!

  15. I'll have to pass this idea on to my wife. She won't allow weeding in the garden because I don't know where she planted and she can't remember exactly where either once the snow melts :)

  16. Yes, I am already finding out that they see my truck coming from pretty far away! LOL It is pretty Crazy.. But ... I Like it...


  17. Anonymous1:50 AM

    Damn it! Where am I going to get 100 paper towel tubes? AWESOME idea!!

  18. Another great idea! You've had quite a few so far.

  19. Excellent idea! I saved a bunch of them to use as pots for seed starting, but decided to go with peat plugs instead. Now I have a use for all those empty tp rolls piled up on my desk in the basement!

  20. What a neat idea! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  21. Ah, thank you! Great idea for next year...then I'll have an idea if what's currently sprouting out there is weeds or seedlings. For now, I have to wait!

  22. What a great idea. I have a small herb garden and way too many snails. I think I'll make them a little Margarita salted tube cocktail!

  23. Oh I love this idea - I can never remember where I plant my seeds. Truly brilliant brother! Love your blog.

  24. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for commenting. I believe I've caught up and returned comments on your blogs. If I haven't let me know and I'll go for a visit.



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