I have been wanting to grow my own herbs for quite a while now, but have been a little intimidated by it. I’ve never grown herbs before and know that some can be finicky when it comes to watering.
However, after seeing many ideas for “self-watering” herb gardens, I decided to give it a try. Many versions use wine or other glass bottles, but for the trial run I decided to go with less expensive and easier to cut, 2-liter pop bottles.
They came together really quickly and required simple materials that you may already have on hand.
Just four materials to make these self-watering herb planters:
– 2 liter soda bottles (or whichever size you choose to use)
– cotton string, twine, or even strips of a cut up t-shirt (just make sure it is cotton so that it properly absorbs the water)
You should have seen my daughter’s eyes as I put these in the cart at Walmart! “Do we get to drink that!?!”
I decided to plant oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, cilantro, parsley and romaine lettuce (not an herb, but wanted to give it a try :) It was also nice that Walmart had organic seeds if that is important to you.
Steps to create the self-watering planters:
I let my kids have a little of the soda before dumping out the bottles, rinsing them, peeling off the labels and cutting them in half (a white strip of the label remained on each bottle…I probably could have found a way to remove it, but have I mentioned lately that I have four kids age five and under? I was trying to get this done before their show was over and they found me ;). I used a knife to start a hole and then scissors to finish the cut.
Next, make your wicks. I used cotton twine from Walmart. I used six strands in each of the wicks, but now, after testing the containers, 3 or 4 would have been plenty. Then tie a knot about two inches from one end (you can test it in your bottle to make sure that it touches the bottom of the water reservoir.
Next, drill holes in the caps of the bottles. The size will depend on what type of wick you are using. For my cotton string wicks, my husband drilled holes that were about 1/4″ in diameter.
Then put one wick through each cap.
And then return the caps to the tops of the bottles, and place the tops of the bottles upside down on their corresponding bottoms. Did I mention how simple and easy these herb planters are??? :)
Next, fill each top about 1/3 of the way with soil. I’m using a bag of Miracle Grow Potting Mix ($5.97 at Walmart…this isn’t sponsored by Walmart, it is just the closest retailer to our house :) Each bottle only holds about 2 cups of dirt, so we hardly put a dent in this big bag, you don’t need much.
They found me…I think they could smell the dirt…If you’re feeling brave, let the kids help :)
Then spread out the strands of the wick and continuing filling. I stopped about an inch below the top, I didn’t want them to get too full.
Then when they are all filled, plant your seeds and add water to the base. The amount of water that you can see in the containers below (three inches or so) lasted almost two weeks. As the plants grow, and as they are placed outside in the sun, they will use more.
And then wait…and in a week, look what we have! The lettuce was the first to appear, the others were a little slower (the packages say that they all take 7-14 days for germination). I made these as a birthday gift for my aunt, so unfortunately I don’t have a picture of them when they were more mature.
You’ll notice that some appear wetter on top then others. If they seem like they are drawing up too much water, just clip off a couple of strands going down to the water. And don’t worry if the top is dry as long as water is disappearing from the bottom. As the plants grow, the roots will find their way to the wick, so the top doesn’t have to be wet for them to get all of the hydration they need.
Talk the sweet carpenter in your life into making a crate or box to put them in. This time of year, the weather is still highly unpredictable in Minnesota, so the crate allows for them to be easily taken inside or out.
Once the seedlings appear, make sure to thin them according to the directions on the package.
And there you have it! Just keep water in the base and never wonder if your herbs are getting the right amount of water :)
I’m going to make another set to have at my house. I’ll be sure to post more pictures of how they grow and adjustments to the process if need be.
I had to read several (several) tutorials to get the complete picture of how these work, if I missed any steps, or if you have a question or suggestion, please leave it in the comments.
I also found this article very helpful once your herbs get growing and you want to start using them: 10 Mistakes New Herb Gardeners Make
Happy herb growing!
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