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Soda Bottle Seed Starters

4.25.2014

 I found a few packets of seeds stowed away in my office closet the other day (why?) & realized I needed to boogie to get them started.  Considering I have exhausted every pot & usable square inch of soil, I had to get crafty.  To the recycling bin I go!

Wow, would you look at that mess...
One of the main issues I have with keeping my seedlings alive is their need for consistent watering.  Let's be honest- sometimes I just neglect those little guys.  So the idea of a self sufficient seedling is right up my alley.  That's the best part about this system- its self watering!

I dug out a few 2 liter soda bottles.
Clearly my husband loves Diet Pepsi- I'm working on that!
First step involved removing the label.  I wasn't going for pretty so I wasn't concerned with removing all the glue but feel free to use Goo Gone or nail polish remover if you want.
After removing the labels, I made sure to sanitize the bottles with 1 part bleach to 8 parts water.  Now this step may or may not be necessary.  I just figured it would probably be a good idea to remove the soda syrup from the bottom of the bottle.  It's not good for us so I can't imagine it being nutritious for my little seedling friends.  After I swirled the bleach concoction around in each bottle for a minute or two, I rinsed them once again with water to remove any remaining bits of harsh bleach.
Next step is to remove the necks.  I used a box cutter to slice each of my bottles.  This made for a lot of jumping & "ah!"-ing while carefully avoiding slicing open my thigh.  I don't recommend this technique.  Surely there's a safer way but this is the typical Julie way so...  Anyhow, I removed the necks by cutting just below where the label began (approximately the top third of the bottle).  After removing the neck, I cut off an additional 3-4 inches of the 'body' of the bottle.  The point of this is to allow your neck to sit lower in the bottom.  You want the open mouth of the bottle to be just about resting on the bottom of the bottle, rather than having 4 inches between the mouth & bottom.  Make sense?  No?  Ok, great.  Moving along...
too much space
After removing the additional bit from the body, ensure your mouth sits in the appropriate place on the bottom of the bottle (trial & error) before removing the neck again.  I cut 3-4 slits in the sides of the bottle neck to ensure water would enter the soil thoroughly.  Then I placed a bit of paper towel in the mouth of the neck to keep the soil from falling out. 
After you've placed your paper towel inside the mouth, add potting soil to the neck piece & fill the bottom piece with water.  Leave approximately 2-3 inches at the top of the bottom piece to ensure the water will not overflow once you add the neck. 
Replace the neck back into the bottom piece & plant your seeds.  Give them a small sprinkle of water to get things started & place in a sunny spot. 

I chose to label my seedlings considering I was having trouble remembering what I planted where in my previous seedling starters. 
This is my first time trying this technique so we'll see how it works out.  I've attempted to grow carrots in a 2 liter bottle before but they never developed.  The seedlings started out great but quickly became overcrowded so hopefully this technique will work out for getting these little guys started.  Check back later for updates!
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