As an advocate for recycling, I have been saving up five litre water bottles to use for sowing seeds. I tried cold sowing with water bottles and milk bottles last year, with varying degrees of success. I used coco coir as a medium for the seeds although there are not enough valuable nutrients in it for long-term planting, seeds don’t care. Some will germinate in damp kitchen roll but once they show their little green leaves, they start to get hungry and coir just isn’t sufficient for their needs. I also understand that although coir is good to use for germination, it may cause problems if whatever other nutrients or fertilisers you use are not coco coir safe. I would like to experiment a little bit more since I think the qualities it does have would protect the little seeds. According to Advanced Nutrients, the ancient name for the coconut tree is ‘The Tree of Life’.
This is from an article on their website:– “Coco coir is naturally anti-fungal, anti-microbial and anti-bacterial (though oddly it creates a wonderful and friendly environment for “good” bacteria). It can help protect your plants against pathogens like Pithium and… at the same time, it will allow beneficial bacteria to thrive. It’s almost eerie how true to its name, “The Tree of Life”, it really is”.
This year I am trying a different approach but sowing even less seeds but sowing some in little plastic drinking cups. I don’t need many plants so four seeds per cup and three cups per water bottle will deal with the quantity. I cut the bottles almost right through, about two thirds of the way up and leave just enough as a hinge, then put drainage holes in the base. I am using an all-purpose compost this year instead of the coir and in addition to the compost in the cups, I have added a couple of inches to the bottom of the bottle as ballast. It will also provide a little extra if roots find their way through the drainage holes in cups.
The other thing I am thinking of trying is using compost topped with a layer of coco coir so that it will give the little seeds and seedlings a friendly and safe environment and when they are ready to leave their nursery lair, they can send their little roots down to the compost for more nutrients. So far the seeds I sowed last year were suitable for an earlier start but I will try with some later spring sowing seeds
Once everything is in place I seal the bottle round the cut edge with tape, label it and leave only the cap off for water and air and it can all be forgotten about until time to plant them out when they should be easier to split.
There is no excuse for not sowing seeds, you can use many things as a makeshift greenhouse. Bottles are only one suggestion, plastic containers with lids should work just as well with air holes drilled in the base. A flower pot with a plastic bag, ready meal containers with lids. No lids? Use cling film. I’ve germinated seeds in a freezer bag with a little vermiculite mixed with water and liquid hydrogen peroxide. There are plenty of ideas on the internet if inspiration is still on vacation.
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2 thoughts on “A Recycled Gardener”
Hi again Agnes
Thanks for your ideas for germinating seeds. Is the time right now to start and should the containers be kept in our house? We have a small unheated greenhouse.
I started in January last year but am a bit late this year due to circumstances at the moment. The cold sowing method is ideal even if you have a greenhouse. Once you get the cartons, bottles, whatever you are using set up, you sit them outside regardless of the hail, rain and snow, leave the caps off the bottles to let air and water in.and let them carry on. You should be able to see the growth without needing to disturb them until ready for potting on. The plastic fridge cartons I used last year had good germination but no room to grow so you would need to pot on seedlings if you used a shallow container. You can see in to photo how the red sweet pepper grew in the 1 pt milk carton but I left the sweet peas in too long and they grew out the top of the 1 ltr carton. When you think of nature, a plant going through flowering, seeding stage, lets the seeds fall and some of them will make it through to spring to start sprouting without human help. So a little extra help should not go amiss. Just make sure you label them. You could put them in the greenhouse I suppose but you would need to water them yourself so why do that if it can be done for you.