Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Sunshine and seeds

I had a slight set-back with the PhD yesterday. Hopefully not major, but enough to send me into a spiral of stress! By the late afternoon I was a bit calmer and in desperate need of a break and a fix of some all-too-rare sunshine. I was also aware that it was a prime time to plant tomatoes and aubergines; and I just happened to have some seeds waiting earnestly on the kitchen table…

All the seeds that I have chosen this year are supposed to be fine to grow in pots and tubs, perfect for the courtyard. The next hurdle is not growing tons of everything, that is usually easier said than done for me. A couple of years ago I grew so many tomato and pepper plants that I turned our conservatory into a jungle – I wasn’t very popular that summer!

P3100035In an attempt to keep a check on how much I’m growing, I decided that rather than plant the seeds in seed trays I would plant them in plastic bottles. This idea came from MrBrownThumb, it is ingenious! It’s cheap and it means that I can restrict my sowing!

I cut three 2-litre drinks P3100033bottles in half horizontally. Then I heated the tip of a fondu fork and used this to melt holes in the bottom for drainage. You could use tweezers or a long nail instead. I put the compost and seeds in the bottom half of the bottle, just like in a seed tray, but the seed were placed on a slightly greater depth of soil (about 8 cm). Gave the seeds some water and popped the top-half of the bottle back on. I cut a vertical slit in the top of the bottle so that I could squeeze it slightly and get it to sit just inside the bottom half. I thought this would be better that trying to balance it on top.

Next to the chitting-potatoes on my window sill I now have three little mini propogators! One containing Gartenperle tomatoes, one with Baby Rosanna aubergines and one housing King Richard leeks. I hope that they work! I’m not so sure about the leeks, looking at the calendar I perhaps should have left these a day or so before planting them. If they don’t work, I can always blame the moon!


  1. This is a very cool idea. Too bad I don't actually use anything that comes in a plastic bottle anymore--I would have had hundreds a year ago but we have different water at this house and it tastes much better. I might have to look into getting a few though--my kids would love this. How often do you water them?

  2. Good question! This is all a bit of an experiment. I'm working on the principle that as long the compost is kept moist then it should be OK, so probably check once a day and water as necessary.
    I'm also experimenting with watering them from the bottom, that way I don't have to remove the lids - will let you know if it works!

  3. Hope you've recovered on the set back. Great idea on the bottles, I'll check back to see how it goes. My husband got ambitious last year and decided to grow tomatoes in his office (he's an attorney) don't ask me why. Anyway, he bought the plants and had these large trays - he got one small tomato out of the entire batch (very tasty, mind you) - but he did not consider bees and pollunating, watering would have been good, and the like - its always the little things.

  4. Still dealing with it, but getting there - thanks.

    It's those 'little things' which tend to create the problem! I was rather taken with two sweetcorn plants I found in a local garden centre last year and tried growing them in pots. Bad idea - definitely not to be repeated. You need a block of plants to get them to pollinate, i.e. more than two plants. I think I had one cob which was more like 'baby corn' than anything else. So I fully emphathize about the tomato!

  5. Very springy blog post, refreshing! I wish I had a garden too...


I'd love to know any comments you might have.