D.I.Y Self-Watering Planter Using Recycled Beer Bottles

D.I.Y Self-Watering Planter Using Recycled Beer Bottles

We have monthly glass collection now for our recycling and after a month it’s quite interesting to see how many glass bottles are collected, especially beer bottles! I really wanted to find a way to be able to reuse them. In NZ we can recycle glass but it’s still nice to reduce the amount and if I can reuse it why wouldn’t I? The planters I’m talking about today can totally be made with plastic bottles and infact it would be a lot easier to make too. We don’t use a lot of plastic bottles and I find the glass is nicer looking when displayed.

Today I’m going to show you how I make an ordinary beer bottle into a self-watering planter perfect for herbs or microgreens.

All you need is something to score the glass, a tile cutting drill bit works well if you have no diamond glass cutter, candle and some ice water.

Here are written instructions on what I did, or scroll to the bottom for a quick video. I didn’t worry too much about straight lines and edges in this video as I wasn’t making glasses to drink from. This is not a tutorial, as that would imply I’m an expert at this 😉. More of an inspirational video on cutting down on your recycling!

First, start with a beer bottle and remove the labels.

I used some sweet orange essential oil to remove the sticky residue from the labels (though any essentail oil works), then I scored lines where I wanted to cut the glass, with a glass or tile cutting drill bit. I wanted to cut about a 2 thirds of the bottom off, and a third off the top.

Once the lines were scored, I filled a sink with ice water, then lit a tealight candle. Then I put on some gloves, and rotated the bottle, alongside one of the scored lines, over the flame about 5 times.

Then I dunked it in the ice water and the bottle broke along the line I had scored. Then I let the top come to room temperature before doing the same thing over the second scored line.

Once my bottle was cut, I sanded back the rough sides with medium grit sandpaper.

Then I painted them. Whatever paint you use (if any!) is up to you but try go for a non toxic one, or if you can’t, don’t have the water or soil touch the paint so it doesn’t leach chemicals . For a wicking material (what will carry the moisture up and do the ‘self-watering’ I used unbleached organic cotton. The same stuff I use when making beeswax food wraps.)

I tied a knot in one end and threaded it through the neck of the bottle so the loose end was hanging out the top of the bottle.

Then I filled part of the bottom of the bottle with water and placed the the top of the bottle upside down inside it, so the loose bit of fabric was hanging in the water.

Then I filled it with soil and herbs, though you could put in seeds or seedlings of whatever small plants you like.

Winter in the Garden- July To Do List

Winter in the Garden- July To Do List

To sow this month: broad beans, broccoli, cauliflower,peas, snow peas, radish, rocket, onions, lettuce, swedes, turnips, silverbeet, perpetual spinach, carrots

To plant from seedlings this month: asparagus, Chinese cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, lettuce, onions

If you’re keen on the idea of homegrown fruit, it’s still a great time to get some fruit trees planted. Here’s a link to Edible Backyard’s post on fruit tree planting. It’s brilliant and straightforward. One day I hope to have the space Kath has to plant fruit trees galore but in the meantime, I just live vicariously through those posts.

Consider planting comfrey underneath your fruit trees as these provide mulch when their old leaves drop off. Comfrey leaves are packed with nutrients as comfrey’s long tap roots bring up nutrients from deep in the soil and into their leaves. As the leaves break down around the tree, the tree will receive these nutrients. There is a Russian variety called called ‘bocking 14’ that only multiplies via root division, so if you’re worried about comfrey self seeding everywhere, try this one.

It’s getting to that time to plant potatoes. You can start chitting them now, to force seed potatoes to sprout. This takes about 4 weeks. Place them in a single layer in a cool light place, but not in any direct sunlight. Once the sprouts have long and strong shoots, keep the strongest 3-4 shoots and rub off the rest. Then they can be planted out.

It’s still time to plant strawberries! They can be planted all the way up to spring but planting them sooner rather than later will ensure larger roots grow and a strong plant means more strawberries! Read more on growing strawberries here.

It’s been cold, wet, raining and even in some cases hailing so our soils are taking a beating. Keep them well mulched to retain those nutrients. I find deep mulching my vegetable patch also stops it from turning into a bog as the rain can be soaked up by the thick layers of mulch.

It’s still cold out there but start sowing peas and broad bean seeds if you haven’t done so already. They’ll slowly establish their roots now and then as the weather warms up and the flowers appear, the bees will come and pollinate the flowers. Add in some quick growing crops such as baby turnips, radishes and more lettuce for something fresh to eat late winter/early spring. Onions can be sown now too, inside in trays or directly onto a prepared bed, as they need about half a year of growing time. 

What’s going on in your winter wonderland?

Happy gardening!

Winter in the Garden- June To Do List

Winter in the Garden- June To Do List

Winter is here! It’s been icy cold. We are apparently in for a very cold winter this year. This feels even more like a shock after the warm summer we’ve had. However, the cold is said to sweeten up some of our favourite vegetables so all is not lost!

Sow from seed this month: Garlic, Peas, Broad Beans, Chard, Silverbeet, Spinach

Plant from punnets this month: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbages, Kale, Lettuce, Spinach, Silverbeet

This month will mark the shortest day of the year, which means a lot less sun for our gardens. The growth of our vegetables will slow down dramatically and in some cases stop completely. Bear this in mind when sowing and planting this month. You probably won’t see any real growth changes until the soil warms up, closer to spring. 

Tree Health

Now that the focus isn’t on planting vegetables, it’s a good time to take care of your fruit trees, especially the deciduous ones.

If your trees suffered from fungal diseases such as curly leaf, blackspot or oozing wounds, now is the time to treat them. Fungal spores can harbour over winter and reinfect your trees next season. Spraying your infected trees with a copper spray (following the diluting instructions exactly!) and once again at the end of winter before the new buds burst can help tackle these problems.

Never mix copper with any other fungicide sprays. As with any fungicides, take care when using it and wear appropriate protection and be cautious with any runoff. Copper, for example, is toxic to fish.

If bugs such as thrips were a big issue you can also spray a horticultural oil on your tree which will smother the eggs that are hiding in the trees crevices. Copper spray and horticultural oil are fine to be sprayed alongside each other. Clear underneath your trees too and get rid of any decaying, fallen leaves. More than just fungal infections can hide there, like thrips for example. Once you have cleared under your trees, give them a good helping of compost and organic matter (aged manure, chopped seaweed, leaf mould…).

Protect your vulnerable trees from frosts, such as young citrus or avocado. You can easily make a frost cover enclosure by hammering in a few wooden stakes and wrapping frost cloth around it when you know it will be a cold night. In the evening, check if there are clouds in the sky. If it’s a clear night, it will be a be a frosty, clear morning too.

It’s a good time now to plant fruit trees too, especially citrus and feijoa. Just remember to keep those young citrus protected. Feijoa, fortunately, are hardier.

Plant Garlic (if you haven’t yet done so)

Planting your garlic on the shortest day of the year is tradition so by all means, plant it then. I have chosen to plant mine early this year to hopefully avoid the dreaded garlic rust. I’ll have to wait and see the outcome.

June New zealand garden

Feed your vegetables

Give your vegetables a monthly fertiliser boost with a liquid fertiliser to keep them strong in winter. They don’t need it as often as in summer as the growth is so slow, but it will help promote stronger roots and defences against winter bugs and pathogens.

June New zealand garden

Stay warm, and happy gardening!

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