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Let me start this question by saying there are a lot of unknowns and I can't provide them so please don't be mad or frustrated by this!

As a green based work scheme each employee at my workplace has been given a cardboard tube about the size and dimensions of a coke can. Inside of this is some soil (it looks a bit odd, so presumably enriched with various things) and a bean seed to plant in it and grow in the office until large enough to plant.. somewhere. We all used the little plastic bag the soil came in to line the cardboard tube and prevent it becoming water damaged.

Given this what's the best educated guess about how much and often to water it please?

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Impossible to say with any accuracy, other than these general guidelines - once you've planted your seed into the growing medium, water it well. If the seed is very small, then get the growing medium nice and damp before you plant, but not too damp or the carboard tube will disintegrate. Then sow the seed into the damp compost. Check it daily, feel the top with your finger - if the cardboard looks damp or wet, don't water, if it looks dry and the compost feels dryish to the touch at the top, then water gently, sufficient to moisten but not to soak or wash the seed out. As the seedling starts to grow, follow the same watering routine. The rate at which the compost dries out will vary according to temperature and humidity levels, but having it too wet can cause damping off disease, which will likely kill your seedling. As the seedling grows, if it is a large tree, it will very soon need potting up into something larger, but without knowing what it is you're growing, impossible to say much more.

UPDATE: You've said you've lined the tube with plastic - I hope its not like a bag in that it's sealed at the bottom, you will need drainage, so make some holes in the bag if its not open at the bottom already. I'm very curious as to how you're expected keep your tubes upright in the meantime, and without water leaking where you don't want it.

UPDATE 2: A bean seed, well, not even remotely treelike then. keep the compost moist but not soaking - should germinate and need potting on within 9 days, they're rapid growers, although you've obviously not been told what variety of bean it is. I'm assuming its the runner bean type that kids get given to grow using blotting paper and a glass tube in school, so they can see root growth.

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  • Thanks for your guidance. I should have mentioned we have all lined the tube with the plastic bag the 'soil' came in to prevent the cardboard rotting out. – Paul Jun 24 '14 at 14:34
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    Paul, I am very curious as to why your company is doing this exercise. Why a cardboard tube unless you want it to decompose? What do they hope to achieve having employees growing a seed? Do you work for a school of some sort? You sounded a bit frustrated. Just curious, I guess, grin! You are working with the best of us gardeners, so you'll be successful...! – stormy Jun 25 '14 at 23:51

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