Last updated on August 26th, 2013
WHEN is a water jug not a water jug? When it’s a miniature greenhouse! Yes, the very greenhouse you need for seed-sowing in winter. Although I described this Cinderella-act in an earlier post, you might find it helpful to see the procedure in pictures:
1. Making Drainage Holes
Because your seeds will be watered with snow, sleet and rain, your greenhouse will need drainage holes, and lots of them . Thus, turn your container upside down and punch through its base about 15 holes, as illustrated above. Also make holes about a half-inch above the container’s base, say, 3 holes per side.
I have found that the easiest, and also the fastest way to make openings in a plastic container is not with a knife, which can slip and slide, but with a red-hot “Phillips” screwdriver. I heat mine over a gas flame at the stove. If you don’t have a gas cook-top, heat the screwdriver with a culinary torch. Failing either device, use an electric drill for your hole-making.
2. Making a Hinged-Cover
Just below the base of the handle, cut almost all the way around the jug, leaving a half-inch hinge, as illustrated above. Use a pen-knife or scissors for this easy job.
3. Adding Potting Soil/Water
Add, to your container, a quantity of potting soil to the depth of 2-3 inches, as above. Soak well, and permit to drain thoroughly at the kitchen sink. The soil, of course, must be well-draining. If your soil-mix is slow to drain, amend it with a small amount of perlite.
4. Planting Seeds
Sow your seeds on the surface of the soil. Very small seeds need no additional soil to cover them. Just leave them on the surface, regardless of what your seed-packet says. Large seeds, such as Morning Glories and Sweet Peas, require only a one-eighth-inch planting depth.
5. Labeling & Taping
Using a permanent marker, indicate on the jug the following data: name of seed, quantity sown (if possible) and date sown. Then close the container’s hinged cover, and secure it in place with 2 or 3 pieces of duct tape. It is not necessary to get a “tight” fit.
6. Lose the Cap
If your container has a cap, definitely remove it. The top opening of a jug permits not only ventilation, but the necessary entry of rain, snow and sleet. Especially on sunny days, your greenhouse will heat up and become quite humid. The vented top will permit excess heat and humidity to escape.
7. Out They Go!
Finally, bring your greenhouse to the wintry elements outdoors. My containers go on the wire-mesh patio table, which I moved to the sunny south side of my garden shed. In this position the jugs are protected from strong north winds. The greenhouses are arranged in a shallow sterlite box, which I peppered with drainage holes. The box mitigates the chance of tipping (should a strong wind get through), and also permits the easy moving of jugs, should this become necessary. If you place your containers in any kind of plastic box, make sure the box has drainage holes, or your seeds will be washed away when the snow melts.
And that’s it! Making a greenhouse and sowing seeds the winter-way is easy, easy, easy!
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