This is how I germinated my vegetable seeds before spring using basic recycled bottles.

I have trialled two methods; one for outdoor germination and one for on-the-window-sill seed germination.

Both have been very helpful to me.

I sow only a small amount of seeds on any one day under a recycled plastic bottle. Results are very good!

I tried two methods.

Method 1. Directly in garden
Method 2. Sow in the bottom half of the bottle.

Method 1. In garden.

I cut a bottle in half.

Growing directly into the garden is easiest. I only used the top half of the bottle to cover seeds sown in an area the shape and size the bottle could cover. i.e. a small circle.

The seeds were protected from wind, from drying out, snails and heavy rain. I needed to water them daily. They were warmer too.

Method 2.

This is best for in-house germination. It allowed me to germinate seeds in a warm lounge window-sill while it was still winter outside; A head-start on spring.

I cut a bottle in half. Then made four cuts in the top half so It could fit overlapping the bottle half.

The seed raising mix
In my trial I mixed my own from active compost. I wanted to have adequate CO2 available to the growing seedlings from the decaying material. Shop bought seed raising mix might not do this as it is not decomposing. I also added crystal rain to the seed raiser mix to hold water.

I pre-watered the mix. Left it for 2 hours. By not having too much water the mix did not become waterlogged. No drain holes are then necessary. You can put them inside on your window sill to germinate.

The water recycles within the system. The sunlight is converted into heat. It becomes a mini glass-house. UPDATE: I discovered that I can fit the top-half overlap inside the bottom half, like tucking a shirt into your pants, so condensed water runs down the inside and does not exit and drip outside of the system.

The cucumbers germinated well. UPDATE: I have also noticed that snails cannot graze new shoots. UPDATE: They don’t get over-watered by rain nor tossed about by wind. Very protected.

The hens cannot peck them. In home where toddlers may be at large you may find this is more robust and allows you to show babies the plants without them crushing them.

Although this is still something I am trialling, I think it’s worth you trying on your window sill at home.

Further Reading

1. Recycling Plastic Bottles into Mini Greenhouses and Planting Pots 1 Nov 2011.


1. Sketch rough diagram, H. Ensing.

2. Photos – All Hank’s photos taken at home.

Water carfully

Get the seed mix to a nice dampness to start with. Most of the water stays inside the bottle and is recycled. When they need a drink, excess water must be able to drain out through holds in the base of the bottle.

Hank Family Home Evening Idea
This is ideal for a Family Home Evening activity. Sing “The Prophet said to Plant a Garden” and let the children sow the seeds. As children and teens see plants grow indoors they will feel ownership in your family vegetable garden.