Friday, April 03, 2009

Time to Hit the Bottle!

Outside it is 6 C (43 F) and the sun is playing peek-a-boo with heavy clouds. Fifteen minutes of brilliant sun and 15 of clouds. This means I am running in and out constantly, as when the sun shines the temperature in the greenhouse, even with door completely unzipped, quickly rises to 35 C (95 F). Then the sun goes behind a cloud and the temperature heads for 12 C (56 F).

Poor baby plants! If it were warmer I'd just let them sit outside, but it is too cool for that. So I keep clomping up and down the stairs zip, unzip, turn lights on, turn lights off. Next year the Jerusalem of an enclosed, heated space with supplementary lights. This is for the birds!

But as my wee plantings start to develop secondary leaves it is time to start thinking about moving them from their tiny 1" cells to individual pots. And I've found just the thing I have been looking for!

I found a great site with instructions on making "self-watering" planters from plastic soda bottles. The first thing I learned from this site is not to call them "self-watering" containers. The correct nomenclature is "sub-irrigated", so we now will switch from referring to this kind of growing technique as SWC and call it SIP (sub-irrigated planter). At any rate the idea is that water is available in a reservoir and the plant pulls what it needs from the reservoir by capillary action.

The instructions on making SIPs from plastic soda pop bottles is here, complete with step by step photos. You simply pick up the top part, fill the reservoir and pop (no pun intended) the upper half of the planter back on top of the reservoir.

I am trying desperately to remember where I have squirreled away my little glue gun. It would be the perfect tool for boring the aeration holes. It certainly is no good for gluing anything. But that hot tip would melt a hole in a plastic soda bottle in a second!

But before I do that I have to clean and cut the bottles anyway, so I could get started without digging around for the glue gun. I do not feel like doing that one bit! I can see that plants like lettuces, kale, baby bok choi, and other greens, which do not need intense sun all day, could be grown in planters made of bottles which are set into a vertical rack, so that the SIPs sit at about a 15 degree angle. Voila! A way to make use of the six by six space at the front of the trailer which gets morning sun, filtered sun midday and is shaded from the late afternoon sun.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you are off to a glorious start. Despite the running in and out and the whim of the sky trifecta I think you will be enjoying many fruits/vegetables of your legs/heart/lungs labours.

I wish you a great growing season.