The pineboard sides and seats of the kids’ sandbox have rotted and weeds have grown in the sand. I’ll soon remove the weeds, add horse manure, and plant tomatoes – exactly what my dad did to my childhood sandbox sometime after it lost my interest.
My small kitchen garden isn’t big enough to feed my family for an entire year. So, this year I’m trying to squeeze more food out of the garden space we have while adding alternative planting beds to squeeze even more out of our yard. One upcoming project will be to convert the kids’ abandoned sandbox into a planting bed for tomatoes. The sandbox already resembles a wild field evolving into a climax community forest. My other strategy for adding space is to plant vegetables in containers.
Here’s a project I did quickly this afternoon. I’ve never tried it, but I can think of no reason it should fail: I planted carrots in a two-liter soft drink bottle. The carrots are supposed to grow no bigger than six inches. Assuming a diameter of 1.25 inches per carrot, it seems that six full-grown carrots should fit easily in the bottle… but these carrots will never become full-grown; I’ll harvest them while they’re young and sweet.
A utility knife easily slits the bottoms of the soda bottle’s “feet.” These slits will let excess water drain out of the container, but won’t let potting soil wash away with the water.
A Carrot Planter
I rinsed the empty soda bottle and cut off the top where the sides of the bottle become cylindrical (just over four inches below the lip of the bottle). I used a utility knife to make slits in the very bottom of the bottle: one ¾ inch slit in each “foot.” Then I filled the bottle with seven inches of light potting soil.
Though carrot seeds are small, I was able to pick up one seed at a time and drop each on the soil where I wanted it. I made a circle of six seeds about an inch from the sides of the bottle. Then I placed four seeds an inch inside of those, and a single seed in the center of the planter. If all the seeds sprout, it’ll be crowded in the soda bottle. What’s more, as they grow, the carrots will displace soil, eventually overwhelming the bottle.
To finish, I sprinkled a quarter inch of potting soil over the seeds and spread it smoothly, and then watered very gingerly so as not to disturb the seeds. I completely soaked the soil until water leaked out through the slits in the bottom of the soda bottle planter.
If things eventually look uncomfortable in there, I’ll pull a carrot and we’ll eat it. After that, I have four concerns:
- A small container is going to need daily watering or more, depending on the weather.
My budget-priced carrot planter sits on a windowsill in my basement. I’ll move it onto my deck in a few days.
- A small container can act as a solar-cooker. If I set my carrot planter in direct sunlight, the heat may destroy my carrots. It’ll be important to keep the planter itself shaded, though I want the carrot tops to get as much sun as possible.
- In such a small container, the carrots will deplete soil nutrients very quickly. I’ll need to provide some type of food periodically to ensure the carrots’ health.
- Its small size makes a soda bottle planter very portable. However, the container is flexible and somewhat flimsy. If I do move it once carrots have sprouted, I want to be gentle so as not to damage the plants.
As I said: I’ve never tried this; it’s an experiment. I’ll let you know how it works.