Introduction: Wintersowing-Preparing 2 Litre Bottles

The following is a technique relating to Wintersowing.

For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Wintersowing is a method of starting seeds for your garden.
No need for complicated light setups or heat mats or any of the bother that starting seeds indoors using traditional methods is usually associated with.
No need to buy expensive seed starting flats.

You simply sow your seed in easily prepared, "found", recycled containers and set them out in the yard in the dead of winter.
They freeze, they thaw, get snowed and rained on and, come Spring, grow.
Sounds crazy but it works. Just like it does in nature.  

See or the Wintersowing forums at for details on what types of seeds can be sown in this way. 

Some of the most popular containers for Wintersowing are soda bottles.

2 liter’s being the most common.
They are very easy to come by, easy to prepare and use, and being clear, are very easy to monitor for sprouting, observing growth and progress.
Sometimes you may find green colored ones and they are fine also.
The basics are the same as for any Wintersowing container.
You need to separate or open the container so you have easy access to add soil and seed.
You need to make some drainage holes in the bottom.
And you need to need some way to securely re-close the container so it can be moved about as needed for watering or to place it in some other sun exposure.
Before you do anything you will need to remove the labels.
This is a simple matter of slitting them with a knife or scissor and peeling them off.
There are other ways to prepare these bottles for use but I have found this method works very well.

Step 1: Step 1-Drainage Holes

For this step you will need one of the following depending on your preference:
  • A soldering iron
  • An awl
  • A small screwdriver
  • A knife
  • A drill
 The objective is to get some holes into the bottom of the container.
I have found that a soldering iron will do this most efficiently but you can also heat the tip of a knife or the awl or screwdriver.
This is much slower as you need to continually reheat them but it is do-able.
Some may object to the smell of melting plastic.
You can do this outdoors if the weather allows.
Doing it in front of an open window with a fan is another option.
Some creative types have also done this over the stove with the exhaust fan on.
The drill is an option if you have one but it may be awkward to try and drill the rounded bottom.

You need to find what works best for you.

Click on additional image below.

Step 2: Step 2-Marking for the Cuts

 For this step you will need the following depending on your preference:
  • A Sharpie
  • A couple of “objects” of different heights to use to gauge the height of where you need to make the cuts.
  • A “gauge stick” made from a paint stick of other piece of wood 
The objective in this step is to layout guide lines for making the cuts you need to bisect (OK, cut) the bottle.
After doing a few of these you may be able to confidently handle this step without needing guide lines but they are helpful initially.
The bottom (cutting) line needs to be about 5” up from the bottom.
There also needs to be a second line roughly an inch above this line as a "stop line".
The dimensions are not critical.
Whatever you have on hand that is close will work. 
Using the object of choice (in this case a couple of items from the pantry) and the Sharpie mark the guide lines by rotating the bottle.

Step 3: Step 3-Making the Cuts

For this step you will need one of the following depending on your preference:
  • Scissors
  • A knife 
Now for the cuts.
The bottom line is the cut line to separate the bottle into two halves.
Use the knife to make a starting hole for the scissors and cut all the way around.
Make two vertical cuts on the upper part creating a small tab.
I usually use the area where the label glue was as a guide on how far apart to make these two cuts.
Cut up to the upper guide or "stop" line.
On the opposite side make two more vertical cuts a bit wider apart than the first two creating a second tab.
Now cut off roughly half the length of these two small tabs creating two notches with part of the tab remaining at the top.
Your bottle is now ready to receive soil and seed.

Again see or the Wintersowing forums at for details on what types of seeds can be sown in this way. 

Click on additional image below.

Step 4: Step 4 -Reuniting the Two Halves

Now that you have the seed sown you need to cover it to protect them.
Now explaining this part is somewhat difficult without video but I'll give it a try.

In actuallty the whole process takes just 2 seconds.
Take the top and, tipping it slightly, slip it down over the bottom. Use your finger to guide the smaller tab you created to the inside of the lower half.
Gently squeeze the lower part as you lower the top and guide it into the larger notched area you created.
Again use your finger to push the second tab to the inside.
Sounds a lot harder than it is, once you do one you’ll get it.

Step 5: Step 5 -Securing the Two Halves

At this point you need to do something to hold the two halves securely together.
You could use some duct tape or twist ties but I’ve worked out a method that works well and allows you to open and reseal them if needed.  
For this step you will need the following:

-Yarn or string (I prefer yarn as it is stretchy)

Cut a length of yarn sufficient to wrap fully around the bottle. 

Make a large loop (roughly 6") in one end. 

Divide this looped section in half and tie another knot making a figure "8"
Take one of the pieces of yarn and loop the "inner" loop of the figure "8" over the neck of the bottle, leaving the end loop hanging free.
Run the yarn under the bottle and secure things with a simple slip knot.
You now have a fully secured mini greenhouse.
You can easily lift it to move or plunge into a basin for bottom watering with no fear of it coming open.

Click on additional images below.