30: Autumn 2012

Author: Jill Pitman

Cuttings and seeds in bottles

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Cuttings and seeds in bottles
Jill Pitman

I am always experimenting with propagation and of course never satisfied -teacher’s voice ever ringing in my ears – saying “could do better”. What’s a gardener to do?

Well I blame a ‘G and T’ at 7.00 pm some evenings as the start of it! The empty tonic bottles were asking for another useful life – and that’s all there is to it.

Cut a tonic bottle in half with the very sharp knife – I use a florist’s knife bought at a Flower Arranging competition several years ago; it has a curved blade not more than 1½” in length. Keep the free hand on the bottle but away from the blade; I use the staging in the greenhouse as a guide to cutting a straight line. When you have two halves, cut around both edges with scissors, this makes the edges safe or else they will ‘bite’ – not pleasant!

Pour into the bottom half of the bottle 3 – 4” of vermiculite and then mix up a liquid extract of seaweed – quite weak – and fill the bottle to a level just beneath the surface of the vermiculite.

Use for rooting cuttings, or sowing seed: a tonic bottle will take five cuttings easily around its edge and as a bonus you can see both the stems and the roots, as they start to grow. Dip cuttings into rooting powder before inserting into the vermiculite. Cut a small slit in the bottom edge of the top half of the bottle about 1½” long and jiggle it back onto the bottom half with the help of your left hand thumb or right hand if you are left handed! Remove the screw cap or the contents will rot.

To sow seeds, sprinkle the seed on to the vermiculite and replace the top of the bottle without the cap and await results.

And that is all there is to the construction of your miniature propagator!

We amateurs can play about to our hearts content, and just let anyone say otherwise …!

Of course lifting them out of the bottle to pot them on will be another challenge.

First published in the Correspondents Group Newsletter, December 2011
and subsequently in Cornucopia Issue 30.
© Copyright for this article: Jill Pitman

This article was taken from a copy of Cornucopia that was published in 2012. You could be reading these articles as they are published to a national audience, by subscribing to Cornucopia.

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