The beauty of this system is that -
- Empty plastic bottles, with a screw-on lid, that have previously held a non-toxic liquid.
Soft drink or water bottles are best. The bottle needs to have flat sides and a flat firm base to ensure it will not tip over. 1.5L size, or larger is preferred.
- Thin strips of 100% cotton woven or knitted fabric, or 100% cotton string of moderate thickness, for the wick.
- Sharp blade knife or scissors (this is for cutting the bottle).
- A Drill, or similar, for making a hole in the lid to pass the wick through.
- Cut your bottle right around its circumference, approximately 1/3 down from the top.
You will need to gauge the best proportion for this, according to the shape of your bottle. Allow enough room in the top section for soil and roots to develop, and enough room in the bottom section for your water reservoir. The lid of the top section, when inverted and balanced onto the lower section, should not sit lower than half way into the bottom section.
- Drill/cut a hole in the top centre of the screw-on lid. The hole needs to be large enough to pass your wick through, yet not so big that the soil in the top section will fall through.
- Cut the wick to be approximately twice the length of the uncut bottle.
- Thread the wick through the hole in the lid and tie a knot on the inside of the lid, to stop it falling through into the water. If your string is thin, you might need to use 3 or 4 lengths to ensure there is enough wicking ability for the water. There should be a good amount of wick floating in the water - the idea is to keep the soil damp.
I also leave a short length of wick stretching up into the soil area, to ensure the water gets right up into the soil.
- Fill the top section with soil mixed with a small amount of a slow-release plant fertilizing agent.
- Plant your seeds in the usual manner and place the inverted top section into the top of the bottom section.
- At that point I water the soil section from the top, just to get things started, then keep an eye on it over the next few days to make sure the wicking has begun to work.
- Depending on the shape of the bottle you have used, you may need to make half a dozen vertical snips down into the lower reservoir section of the bottle, to allow the top section to balance firmly. You will need to use your own judgement on this one because it quite relies on the shape of the bottle you have used.
- When your seedlings have grown to a good height for planting out, then you can plant them in your desired location. You'll need to water and feed them well, until you feel they are fully established in their final home.