In the wake of Earth Day, I thought I’d continue with the environmental thread. I like going green, and when I can combine growing plants with recycling things, so much the better!
When I decided to grow our second round of water spinach plants more than a year ago, I decided to give each plant its own space to grow. The first try growing them in a planter wasn’t stellar, as the plants were crowded in the limited space, and ended up attracting mealybugs. Spacing them out was my intent.
Since I had accumulated a number of 1.5 litre PET bottles at that time, I decided to use some of the bottles to grow the spinach in. My recycled bottle design of choice was a hanging pot. (See this post for instructions on how to make one, and for other ways to recycle plastic bottles)
It actually turned out to be a good choice, because once established, the plants grew nice and strong, even when they became root bound. They also looked very pretty, and when left to grow as long as they wanted to, also produced lots and lots of gorgeous white flowers that I eventually harvested seeds from.
More recently, I attempted to grow a new lot of spinach in a recycled styrofoam box. It was one of the shallower ones that’s about 15cm deep. I had planted the spinach in good organic soil, and expected them to surpass the growth of the plants in the hanging plastic bottles, but to my surprise, the plants in the box kept struggling and didn’t grow well, and I eventually gave up on them.
This leads me to conclude that spinach plants don’t mind being root bound as long as they have good depth to grow in. My hanging PET bottles were filled with soil from bottom to almost at the top. All I had allowed was about 5cm space from the top for the plants to lean out and grow so there was a good amount of space for the roots to explore.
I also experimented with a PET bottle design where the top was lopped off so it was like a tall, narrow flower pot, but the plants were less lush than their hanging counterparts. Maybe more moisture was lost because the top was more open than the hanging pots. So, I am advocating the use of recycled bottles (the big ones of at least 1.5 litres) as hanging pots as good receptacles to grow water spinach in. Give it a go!