Two weeks into the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown people are stuck at home with loads of time but no idea how to use it productively. I decided to look to those in my bubble for ideas. My flatmate is into gardening and was happy to teach me. But what do we do when there are no garden centres open? 

So my flatmate and I have put together three great DIY garden ideas and two failed DIY garden ideas that anyone can do, with only things from your flat and the supermarket, and maybe some dirt dug up from the footpath. 

Seedlings in toilet paper rolls

This one uses something many people have an abundance of: toilet paper rolls. This is a good starter for just about any type of seed, you just need to transplant them once they sprout. 

You need:

  • A tray (takeaway ones work great)
  • As many toilet paper rolls as will fit in the tray 
  • Tape (doesn’t have to be duct tape, we just couldn’t find anything else)
  • Dirt
  • Seeds
  • Water 


Arrange toilet rolls in the tray and tape them together. Tip the dirt in until it’s about 2cm from the top. Make a hole with your finger about 1cm deep and put the seed in it. Then grab a handful of dirt and fill the rolls the rest of the way up. Finally, give it water. Water every one to two days. 

Who knows if ours will grow. We used dry pumpkins seeds we found on the ground near our compost bin. 

Garlic in Tetra Pak container

This one is great for dairy intolerant and vegan people who stress about not being able to recycle Tetra Pak. You can plant a lot of small veggies and herbs in them, but we went with garlic because we forgot about it and it’s already sprouting. 

You need:

  • Tetra Pak container
  • Garlic clove that you have left long enough that it’s sprouted a little green shoot
  • Scissors
  • A tray
  • Water 


Chop the top off the Tetra pack and punch some holes in the bottom with the scissors. Fill it two thirds up with dirt. Peel the garlic, and peel one clove till it’s smooth. Make a hole with your fingers in the dirt and plant the garlic in it. Pat the soil down around it and give it water. Water every 1-2 days. 

This one should work because the length of our garlic sprout has doubled each day. 

Propagating succulents 

This is an easy one, and you can steal bits off your flatmate’s plants or off your neighbour’s ones when you’re out for a walk. 

What you need: 

  • Sour cream/yoghurt pottle
  • Wall pin
  • (Stolen) succulent 
  • Dirt


Make a bunch of small holes in the bottom of the pottle with the pin. Fill the pottle with dirt. Cleanly snap off a small piece of a succulent and pop it on the dirt. If you use a single leaf just lay it on the dirt and it should start to root. Water every 2-3 days

None of these will feed you through an apocalypse, but gardening is fun, and these are a good way to learn. However, in putting together these how-tos there were some casualties. Failure is okay, but here are some things not to do: 

Lettuce in a bucket

I heard that lettuce was easy to grow at home, but I made the fatal mistake of not Googling how to actually plant it. I got a two-pack of lettuce from the supermarket and thought “oh sick, it has roots, I’ll just plant it in a bucket”. This is it two days later. When I looked it up apparently growing lettuce from scraps is a complicated and unrewarding process. You're meant to leave the bottom part in water and eventually it will regrow a few sad leaves before it dies. 

Spring onions in a Coke bottle

Same mistake with this one. Saw roots and just planted it, then Googled how to do it afterwards. Apparently, you should only use the white bottom bit and leave it in water until it sprouts, then replant it. However, this one hasn’t actually died yet so we’ll see how it goes. On another note, Coke bottles are really difficult to make drainage holes in unless you have a drill, so stay away from them unless you are a powertool fiend. 


To end on a positive note, the garlic is looking incredible and I had heaps of fun, even though I got dirt all through the carpet and wasted a bunch of lettuce.