Saturday, January 14, 2017

Growing Bottles

Ok, I'm not really growing bottles. But when I look in the community garden area, it surely looks like it. Rows of bottles. Complete beds of bottles. Oh my, what's going on? 

(The milk jugs are holding water, which can be used to give the seedlings a drink as need be.)

Certain veggie seedlings have a hard time surviving in this garden spot. There's a lot of cutworms. Occasionally an army of rats comes by and eats everything tender. Then there's those feral turkeys. Blasted birds can clean out a bed at one sitting. 

In the past I tried using plastic drinking cups with the bottoms cut off. They worked great against cutworms. But the cups had three drawbacks. 1- the quickly became brittle and cracked. Thus they were only good for one crop. 2- they were too lightweight and often blew away, 3- they didn't stop the rats and turkeys. Since I was given those cups, they didn't have the 4th drawback, cost. 

Since I love to experiment to find solutions, I looked around for something else to try. While turning in some recyclables I thought, why not use plastic bottles. They are durable in the sun, less apt to be wind blown, anti-rat, anti-turkey, and free. Actually, I could redeem them for a nickel, so in reality they "cost" me a five cent loss. But being that I didn't have to buy them or pay the deposit on them, in the first place I consider them free. 

I picked out the strongest and bigger bottles (20 ounces and above). Using a box cutter, I cut off the bottoms. Removed the label. Took off the cap. Wallah! 

I've only been trying these bottles for two weeks, but so far so good. None have blown away. Only two seedlings got hit by the cutworms, only because I unfortunately slipped the bottle atop unseen worms under the soil. No seedlings eaten by rats or turkeys. The seedlings are growing just fine. I feared that they might cook, but that hasn't been the case so far. 

Every other day I water each seedling. I give them about 1/2" to 1" of water. That seems to be enough. I'm not sure how long to keep the seedlings bottled up, but I'll wait for them to grow larger and stronger. This is an experiment still in progress. 

1 comment:

  1. I have been using plastic bottles too, for my sweetcorn, to prevent cutworms.
    I cut off the top though, to allow easier watering with a hose.
    In fact to me this is another advantage, in that I can half fill the bottle and the water is concentrated on the plant, not running off.
    Rats and turkeys aren't quite so bad here, to require the bottle top left on.