It’s almost that time of year again, folks! Time to start seedlings for spring planting. This season, why not save money on both pots and plants by starting your own veggies in recycled containers?
One of the best containers to use for starting seeds is a large, clear water bottle. Here’s how you can turn one into a handy greenhouse for all your veggie seedlings this season.
How To Make A Water Bottle Greenhouse
You will need:
- 1 Gallon or 3-Qt water bottle (I used an Ozarka bottle)
- Razor or box cutter
- Peat moss
- Soil from your garden plot
- Popsicle stick or pencil
- Spray bottle
First, cut the bottle in half using a razor blade or box cutter. Also, try to remove as much of the sunlight-blocking label as possible.
Note: Gallon milk jugs are NOT a good substitute since they are a cloudy plastic instead of clear.
Next, fill a large mixing bottle with equal parts peat moss and soil from the plot (I took mine from my keyhole garden) in which you will be planting your seedlings. Mix well and spray with water until thoroughly moist.
Why use soil from a plot instead of using potting soil? Using soil from the very plot you’ll be planting your seedlings in will help them adjust to their future environment.
Fill the bottom half of the bottle with soil and lightly press down to compact. Give the surface of soil another spray of water.
Since I have big ol’ clumsy fingers, I prefer making holes for seeds using a popsicle stick or pencil head. If you have gentle, delicate fingers, then poke away. 🙂
Makes holes as deep as seeds require. Typically, larger seeds like peas, beans and squashes require a 1″ depth. Itty bitty seeds like tomatoes, peppers and herbs usually require a 1/4″ inch depth.
Sow seeds and gently cover with soil. Apply one last good spray of water.
Why a spray bottle? A spray bottle waters the soil without disturbing the seeds. Pouring water directly over the top of the soil just creates a tsunami and usually dislodges the seeds.
Poke a few slits in the top of the water bottle using your razor and carefully fit the lid over the bottom half of the bottle. Push down until the edges overlap so the top stays in place. Lightly loosen the lid on the top of the bottle but do not remove it yet.
Place greenhouses in your sunniest window.
Condensation will begin to develop quickly which will create a consistently moist, happy environment for your seeds. Seeds do not like drying out or receiving inconsistent water, but they also do not like being water-logged.
To make the most of your water bottle greenhouse, make sure to keep an eye on things by doing the following:
- After a couple days, lift the top off. Check for mold on the soil surface.
- If there’s mold, leave the top off and allow the soil to “breathe” during the day. Replace the top at night to keep the soil warm.
- After the next day or two, remove the top again and check the soil moisture.
- If the soil looks cracked or feels barely damp, give another spritz of water. Return top but remove the cap.
- Over the next few day, continue to monitor soil.
- Pull out any weak seedlings to leave room for the healthier ones.
Here is how my snowpea seedlings look like after just 10 days in their water bottle greenhouse. In our area, this weekend will be 6 weeks before the last frost so I will plant them in the keyhole then. Technically you can plant peas directly in the soil, but I’d like to have one of each method. You can never be too sure out here in west Texas. I can only pray for a wee harvest and hope for the best. 🙂
NEXT STEP: Transplant
Since transplanting can be a delicate process, I will be sharing the tutorial in a later post. Stay tuned next week!