Since starting my tumblr http://growandeat.tumblr.com/ I have seen many amazing home gardeners. People with only balconies, and many with allotments. But there are also some really neat and nifty ideas for recycling and reuse of items to grow food. So here I am jumping on the bandwagon with recycled plastic bottles turning them into self-watering planters. When I first read the article my heart dropped a little. We don’t drink things out of plastic bottles! We don’t drink soft drink. And our milk is from cartons. We had 3 plastic bottles in the fridge, all from when my dad was visiting. So I tipped that flat soda water down the sink and started. Totally easy and so far successful.
But how to get more? I skyped all my friends. “Do you drink soft drink? Do you have 2ltr plastic bottles you can keep for me?” one response was “How about 1.25ltr bottles?”, to which I replied “Yes, ALL THE BOTTLES!”.
To which my friend Andy came through with 10 1.25ltr bottles in LESS THAN A WEEK! And they were all from his parents. God bless Andy’s parents!
The first step in this DIY project is to remove the caps and labels and give them a good wash.
Second step is to cut them in half. I used a stanley knife (or box-cutter as they are called in the states). I used scissors previously which also worked. Remove the little plastic ring on the top of the bottle also. And be super careful if you are using a stanley knife, honestly they scare the crap out of me so I am always very slow when using them.
Next you need some kind of material that will let water flow through (and even roots grow through eventually!) but not let the soil through. I happen to have a lot of white mesh material left over from curtain making at the old house. So I cut it into rouch squares. You also need some rubber (elastic) bands.
Drape cloth over the top of your bottle.
Secure with elastic band. At this point you can also neaten up the edges of any over hanging material. I have seen in the original posts about making these that the person used a type of felt which allowed only water through. Each to their own.
Turn top of bottle upside down and place into bottom half of bottle.
Fill the top of the upturned bottle with potting mix.
Here are two I made (I only had two rubber bands). I have put into these purple boc choy seedlings. (Because remember purple is the new super food).
Water well. And I mean over water. At this stage you want all the soil saturated and all the run off to collect in the bottom of the bottle. Stop watering when the water reaches just above the ‘top’ of the bottle. Or the bottom opening from the top of the bottle. Wow that is difficult to put into words.
The brilliant thing is. Its plastic so you don’t have to worry about evaporation from the bottom of the bottle. And the soil stays really wet, I’ve found so far I only have to water it minimum once a week.
Here are three I did early last week. And as you can see ANY shape of plastic bottle works. Here I have a standard 2 ltr bottle, a standard 1.25ltr bottle and what was a 1ltr weird squarish bottle we had aloe vera juice in. The thyme planted in the left two are doing the best I’ve seen them in months. One is a lemon thyme, the other is a variegated thyme, and on the far right is a small sweet basil plant. I am converted to this method, and cant wait to see roots in the bottom of the bottles!
Another thing that is prevalent on tumblr is the use of egg cartons as seed raising containers. I have two currently in use. It works, they get a little soggy, but its nice. Being I have so many seedling trays I don’t know if I will bother rescuing anymore cartons from the recycling bin though.
And now for a quick update on my greenhouse winter tomatoes. You can see a hint of green through all of that condensation.
Inside reveals Neo going super strong. His two companions are super happy too.
Just look at that beauty. I cannot wait to see how soon it starts to flower. We ended up mowing around the biggest plant from the lawn, and that has already started flowering. So this is still very exciting.