Sowing the seeds

10 years ago, I was a fledgling English teacher, and Ali was a tour guide and translator. One of the highlights of our year was the Istanbul Film Festival (which is going on now) because we worked on subtitles and got passes that let us in to any movie.
I still remember the thrill of slipping into a side door to a showing of the Chinese film noir, Blind Shaft just as the lights went out and finding two empty seats that seemed to have been waiting for us. And there was also a memorable translation that I still laugh about from a Turkish film that I was editing the English subtitles for: “Cut the crab!”
When I think back on those days, we seem like different people now. We’ve got two kids and a two acre garden. We’re more likely to fill sacks of manure together than go out to a movie or duck into a restaurant.
However, we were always headed here. Because there is one thing that we have done together without fail every year and that is sow seeds together. In February and March every year (with a few weeks on either side added in for good measure) we spend hours making paper pots and filling them, dropping seeds into little holes and writing labels. We’ve planted our seedlings in other people’s gardens, on our terrace, at my parents’ house, and now here, in our very own garden, which is literally our dream come true.
So although we never go out to do much of anything on our own anymore, I know we’ll have that time side by side with the seed packets when Spring approaches again, just as we have every year for the past decade.

cola bottles and the tops they wear

Out by us in Ulupinar, no one would ever dream of throwing away a cola bottle. Be it 1 liter, 500 ml or 2.5 liters, these handy bottles are used again and again. They don’t leak, so they are invaluable receptacles for fresh milk, diesel, home made pomegranate or grape syrup, and as I have discovered, great for watering.

This is the time of year when we peer at little pots of paper waiting for seeds to germinate. The paper pot, folded out of newspaper, is a wonderful thing. It’s cheap and easy to make, and pretty much any seed can be started in it. One thing that you have to be especially watchful of, though, is that they not dry out. Watering tiny seedlings sometimes no thicker than an eyelash can be nerve wracking, and is best done with a fine shower of water.

I used to have a rose for my watering can, but it was detachable, so naturally it got lost. Then I came across a couple of solutions that can be used along with the venerable cola bottle.

The first is a bottle top that screws on to the cola bottle. I got this from the Thompson & Morgan website when they were giving them away to anyone sufficiently spendy (I have my moments). It is a little fragile, though — I got four of them, and this is the only survivor. Still, it works really well, and it is serving us in the Yellow House as our seed sowing waterer.


In the apartment in Antalya, I am starting tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and cucumber seeds in black bags. It is warmer here, since we have heat, and I am using bags so that I can grow them in the bags for a few weeks without worrying about them getting too cramped by the time I can plant them out. I have a little sprinkler cap that I got at years back. It is intended for sprinkling water on your ironing. I don’t iron, so I can’t say whether it works well for that or not, but it makes a great waterer when paired with a cola bottle, and since it’s a cork you could just stuff it into any old bottle.




As usual, though, the best answer was staring me in the face. There’s nothing wrong with the bottle cap on the bottle itself. Here’s one that Ali burned holes in with a hot needle (a job best performed in open air, or at least with open window).

It works marvelously. Cola may be bad for you, but cola bottles are the gardener’s friend!