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Starting my plants

March 24th, 2010 at 07:39 pm

I want a garden this year and I don't want to pay a fortune for already started plants. I have usually just bought the plants already started, but this year I want to try to start my own.

I have read a lot about "earth boxes" which are pretty cool. You take two containers and cut the sides of one so that upside down it fits inside the other. It splits the container into two distinct spaces where the water can go in the bottom half and the soil can go in the top half. You put a pvc pipe down to the bottom layer and cut a hole in the shelf and use some smaller container with small holes in it to allow the soil to be in contact with the water. The theory is that the soil in contact with the water will wick the water up into the soil where the plants are planted. This way the plants get just the amount of water they need, you can fill up the bottoms and not have to worry about over or under watering them. Look here for a better understanding: http://www.earthbox.com/index.php

So, I thought the same thing could be done with starting pots. My mom gave me a great idea of using 2-liter bottles, and I also did it with smaller pop bottles as well.

All you need to make my earth pots is a 2 liter bottle, some panty hose and scissors. Oh, and soil, water and seeds.


Start by cutting the two liter in about half. It took a bit of playing with the dimensions, but I eventually ended cutting it into three pieces so the top piece will fit nicely in the bottom. I had about 1 1/2" of scrap when I was done.


Cut the pantyhose into short strips:


You use the pantyhose to cover the neck of the bottle so the soil doesn't fall out. I twisted each side then pulled tight and tied them on:


Then I filled the top with soil:


and the bottom with water:


and then put the top into the bottom. The soil will contact the water, and the soil will wick the water up into the top part. Here is one I did last week, with the little spaghetti squash already up:


I did a few more today, this time with smaller bottles:


Hope this works. If not, I'm out a few seeds, I guess.

I have spaghetti squash, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers getting started now. When I get some more bottles I'll start eggplant and cucumbers.

12 Responses to “Starting my plants”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    Very cool! A nice way to reuse.

  2. campfrugal Says:

    I getting ready to start mine. I will take pics and post.

  3. momcents Says:


    Very clever little trick! Might be a project to do with the kids on spring break! Thanks for sharing (and inspiring).

  4. all4money Says:

    That is so cool -- I will have to try this!

  5. dmontngrey Says:

    I love this idea! Good way for us to reuse all the Sobe bottles we just got at Target. I think I'll try this over the weekend - thanks!

  6. patientsaver Says:

    Wow, that's very was enterprising of you. I started some lettuce and broccoli indoors (just coming up now), but i think i'm too lazy to do much else indoors.

  7. cptacek Says:

    Thanks everyone. The spaghetti squash soil is very moist after a week, so I am reasonably sure this will work. Sometimes I overthink, and my little schemes don't work out like they should. But this way, just pick up the top section, fill the bottoms with water and replace the top again.

    Oh, and don't fill the bottom completely up with water. The top section will displace some of it, so you might overflow if you go too high!

  8. Broken Arrow Says:

    Hey very cool! I've always wanted to start up a real container garden some day, so I'll be very interested to see how all this works out. Thanks for sharing!

  9. frugaltexan75 Says:

    Wow! This is a really neat idea!

  10. cptacek Says:

    Now I have to figure out how to get those puppies some sunlight. I have one south facing window that isn't covered by a porch, and it is in my bedroom, but the bed is right up against the wall. I'll have to rearrange to get the plants close to the window.

  11. Homebody Says:

    OMG, ingenious! Love it.

  12. Jerry Says:

    Those are great planters! We have been using them for seedlings and even larger plants, and the system leads them to grow like crazy. They are kind of the same idea as these larger planters that my parents have, but FAR cheaper and smaller to use. I love that you have insurance that you can't over-water the plants, they just use what they need.
    Jerry

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