What first comes to mind when you think of Seattle? Did I hear you say rain? This week’s Science Saturday project is about water and is from Seattle.  Anne, a Seattle mother of three, shares her pictorial  How to: Self-Watering Seed Starter Pots.  Who better to know about water than a Seattlite, right? It’s still a little too early for starting seeds here in northern Minnesota, but I am anxious to give this ingenious method a try. Also with Earth Day around the corner, we’ll  add this to our list of ways to reuse plastic soda bottles.

A few weeks ago the girls and I did a project that I’ve been enjoying every day since.  We repurposed 2 liter bottles and turned them into self-watering planters for starting our tomatoes and cucumbers indoors.  They’ve been sitting on the window sill near my desk and I’ve been watching them grow every day.  It’s been the perfect antidote for the bummer weather we’ve been having here in Seattle.
I’ve tried starting seeds indoors several different ways over the years.  So far this is my favorite method because the soil is always exactly the right moisture level and it’s very easy to see with the naked eye when it’s time to add water to the planter.  There’s no guesswork involved and the plants seem to love it.
Here’s how we made them:
You need 2 liter bottles, potting soil, seeds, thick string or yarn (either cotton or poly seems to work), a Phillips screwdriver, hammer, and a sharp blade to cut the bottle.
Cut the bottle in half.
Use a Phillips screwdriver and a hammer to punch a hole in the center of the bottle cap.
Cut a length of yarn/string about 1′-1.5′ long, double it over and tie a loop on one end.
Thread the yarn/string through the hole in the bottle cap so that the knot is on the inside of the cap.  This will act as a wick, drawing water up from the basin below and into the soil.  The plant will take only what it needs, so the soil moisture will be perfectly regulated.
Put the cap back on the bottle top and nest the top of the bottle in the base. As the plants grow and use up the water, you can just lift off the top to add more to the base instead of pouring it over the soil.  As the soil dries, water will be sucked up through the string into the pot.
Label your bottle so that you remember what you planted.  🙂
Add potting soil and seeds…
You need to water the soil from the top the first time in order to make sure that it is uniformly wet and that the string also is wet.  Otherwise the surface tension of the water will prevent the whole thing from working correctly.
…and wait.

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Anne is also a talented soap maker with a fantastic line of artisan soaps at Seattle Sundries.
Here is her latest, and with a currently very dirty Shop Dog Higgins, must say greatest soap. But really,  you have to take a look at the packaging, each one is more clever than the other. The list goes round and round, like Bitchn’ Kitchen, Potty Mouth, Gender Neutral to Manly Man. You can even  private label soaps for wedding favors, corporate events, etc.
Thanks for all your inspiration Anne!
While I’m still thinking “water” and am inspired – better make it bath time for Higgins.