Garden in a Bottle

My tomato plant growing happily under glass

HerbDoc describes an interesting gardening technique:

I know everyone is anxious to begin their spring planting, but as anyone who has seriously gardened in Rhode Island knows, it’s not safe to put out tomatoes, peppers or eggplant until Memorial Day.  That is unless you follow this ingenious idea from a young mother I know.  I like to call her the “Queen of Recycling” as her gardening practices include all manner of reused items.

She managed to convince a local water company to give her the damaged jugs that they could no longer use for refilling and delivery to their customers.  Some have cracks or chips but they are perfect for giving heat seeking vegetables an early start.  The bottom of the jug is cut off with a hacksaw and used as a hothouse by placing it over a potted plant or directly over the soil.  Because the walls of the clear jug are thick and the overall size is bigger, they work much better than milk bottles.

I’ve used this method for the past several years since she graciously gave me four of these jugs.  The one in the photo is a cherry tomato, but I’ve also covered my ancho peppers in the garden and have never lost any of them to frost.  They are usually planted around May 1st and develop huge center stems as big around as my thumb and many flowers by Memorial Day.  Water is applied through the top and down the sides of the bottle.  Condensation will appear almost as soon as the jug is in place.  My only caution is to watch the growth carefully!  The first year I attempted this method, I had a hard time removing the jug without damaging the plant as it had grown right to the edges and almost to the top of the bottle.  The leaves will be very deep green and you definitely will have tomatoes three weeks to a month before normal picking time!


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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3 Responses to Garden in a Bottle

  1. Wendy says:

    What a great idea for a gigantic cloche! Memorial day?! What a wait!


  2. HerbDoc says:

    Ah, yes, the New England weather is too unpredictable for earlier planting
    of the plants that love warmer weather. You just never know when it’s going to get chilly. Yesterday morning the temperature was 32 degrees at 5 AM so the cloche spent the previous evening in my dining room!
    Some of the seedlings that volunteered in my herb garden are a deep purple instead of green; I’m hoping they survive!


  3. CaroLine says:

    I tried using water bottles over my tomatoes. When they were calling for a minus 3 I went out and covered them. They all died. What did I do wrong?


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