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Inexpensive Rooting Box

An inexpensive rooting box.

Inexpensive Root starter box

Inexpensive Root starter box

To create a good environment for rooting cuttings you need  good light and control of humidity until the roots can support the needs of the new plant

PETE Grow box

PETE Grow box

An inexpensive rooting grow box can be created by using clear PETE, vacuum molded,  salad containers.

To the left you will see a drawing that demonstrates the concept of removing enough of the flange of one container to set the top one into the bottom containers’ flange.

I remove the flange in two passes as the convolutions make it difficult to get a good job done in one pass. Remember to remove only the amount needed to set one into the other as the remaining flange stiffens the edge.

PETE container labels

PETE container labels

The first thing to do is remove the labels from the container that you will be using for the top. Important! do this as soon as possible. A dry, new label peels cleanly off easily.  Just lift the edge and peel slowly, use a sharp knife to assist with sticky spots.  A wet or old label is very difficult to remove. Use that container for the bottom!  😦   PETE is resistant to most solvents if you really do need to clean up old glue.

Top flange fit into lower flange

Top flange fit into lower flange

If the shape and cutting is correct the top will fit into the lower tray flange. This will preserve a high humidity environment for the cuttings while they force roots to form. The clear PETE transmits a maximum amount of light so that the cuttings can make sugar to feed themselves.  And you can see any water in the base.  Be sure to open the box from time to time and talk to your new babies. they don’t care what you have to say. But they do appreciate the CO2.     😎    pg

Important note: store out of the summer sun! A dry empty clear PETE container will warp badly if left in hot direct sun. Even in the Green House.  pg


39 responses to “Inexpensive Rooting Box

  1. Zeke March 14, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Nice project pg. I always use sand for cuttings because it is cleaner in the humid atmosphere.

    So, are those tomatoes?

  2. p.g.sharrow March 14, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    @Zeke; glad to hear from you. Yes clean sterile sharp sand is the best medium to induce rooting. I generally use a seed starting soil less mix, because that is what I have and a jell rooting dip. You are correct those are tomatoes, but tomato root stock for grafting fruiting tomatoes to. The root stock is much more resistant to various root diseases. It is a very vigorous growing wild like tomato that produces a very small yellow cherry like fruit, Barely edible. Soon I will do a tomato grafting post. I have to come up with a better way to get good photos from my crappy old digital camera. pg

  3. Zeke March 15, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Grafting, from a cutting – a tale full of twists and turns! (: I have never tried grafting before and would love a peak at the process, with pictures.

    Nice to know tomatoes can be rooted.

  4. PG Sharrow March 15, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Oh yes! Tomato cuttings root fairly easily and a good way to extend a favored plant line. Seedlings are all somewhat different, but, clones are all the same.
    Tomatoes are perennials and can be kept alive for a long time, just keep the roots warm, over 50F. If the roots get cold too long they will exhaust themselves. A rooting will flower as soon as it starts growing. A seedling will have to grow at least 50 days before it is mature enough to begin blooming. Some of my cloned lines are 4 generations and some plants are starting their 3rd year in the greenhouse.
    One thing, cutting roots grow out, not down. Plant them deep as you can, and they will root more from the buried stem. I have rooted broken off tomato plant branches in the garden. just cut away nearly all the leaves and side branches and bury the piece up to its’ “ears” As long as the soil is damp, not wet, it will most likely take off. pg

  5. Zeke March 17, 2014 at 8:56 am

    pg says, “One thing, cutting roots grow out, not down. Plant them deep as you can, and they will root more from the buried stem. I have rooted broken off tomato plant branches in the garden. just cut away nearly all the leaves and side branches and bury the piece up to its’ “ears” As long as the soil is damp, not wet, it will most likely take off. pg”

    The last time I bought a tomato plant, I did bury it to the tip, and it shot up, and was very sturdy all season, now that you mention it! (:

    The reason I bought a tomato from the nursery is because it is getting too cool up here, and I did not want to end up with nothing but a bunch of green ones. I can see you will never buy anything from a nursery (: That’s good.

  6. PG Sharrow March 17, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    @Zeke, tomatoes love heat and sun. If you live in a cool area, plant against a south or west wall of your house and trellis. this will extend your growing season quite a bit and the tomatoes will be sweeter and of better flavor. They can be put in the ground as soon as the soil stays over 50F. When frost starts to threaten in the fall bring all tomatoes in, they will ripen over the next 2 months. Not as flavorful as summer fruit, but better then Safeway! 😉 Grandpa would pull the whole plant and hang it, upside down, inside and continue harvesting. pg

  7. Zeke March 18, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    I’m going to do it. You twisted my arm. (: The hens will eat half of them, but I love tomatoes.

  8. Zeke March 29, 2014 at 11:59 am

    I planted my tomatoes from seeds, which were only 25 cents. Sun dried tomatoes for sandwiches and pasta is the plan. (:

  9. p.g.sharrow March 29, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Sun dried Tomatoes! good in rice cooker too. Just crush and cook with the rice. 😎
    I dried San Marinos last time. This year I will try Amish Paste, they make great sandwich slices, much better then beef steak tomatoes. Meaty and large, small vesicles with few seeds. An heirloom tomato so I saved some of the seeds. Took a dozen large tomatoes to get teaspoon of seeds!
    I canned about 8 gallons of tomato paste after 50% reduction!

    It looks like I have 3 good rooted cuttings from last years best Amish paste plant. They are about 3ft high now, in the greenhouse and I must plant tomatoes and hot peppers tomorrow. My 3 sweet bells from last year are in large planters in the greenhouse and have peppers on them. pg

  10. Zeke June 24, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Pg, I am really glad we talked. The hens got into my greenhouse and dug up all my tomato plants, but I just picked them up and buried them up to the top crown. They LOVED it. (: It was probably better to thin them out a little too. Now if I can keep the better half from yanking out all these weeds with little yellow flowers, lol.

    This lady on the internet said she got 40lbs from one cherry tomato plant.

  11. p.g.sharrow June 24, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    @Zeke, A least your lady helps with the weeding.
    My lady refuses to do gardening and harvest. At least she will cook and and help eat the garden produce.

    40lbs Cherry tomatoes from one plant! That is a lot of those little buggers to use up. Now 40lbs of Little Yellow Pears is delicious. 😉 lol
    Right now I am fighting gophers for 2 rows of Amish Paste cooking tomatoes. I planted them 2 months ago and there are about 1/3 of the original plants left. I have taken cuttings from the large survivors for new plants as I ran out of seedlings. As the cuttings root, I replace the eaten plants and trap and bait the gophers. I think I’m winning! slowly 😦 Must have those Amish Paste to make tomato paste and chile sauce. 😎 pg

  12. p.g.sharrow June 24, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    This week I thinned 1 of the beds of beets and am enjoying steamed baby beet/greens, emm better then spinach, by far.

  13. Zeke June 24, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I wondered how your garden was proceeding! Those are pretty big “varmints” you’ve got.

    I am just in a holding pattern with mint and rose jelly until something else decides to get ripe.

    I am trying beets this year too. They are sugar beets though. Shall I try the greens when they get bigger? The article says the greens are good for goats. (:

  14. p.g.sharrow June 25, 2014 at 4:40 am

    @Zeke; Hm beets are beets. Young leaves of sugar beets should be a sweeter version. They all taste a bit like spinach. You may need to remove the stems if they are tough.
    Goats will eat nearly anything, even poison oak! So I am not sure if I would depend on their sense of taste. 😉 pg

  15. Zeke June 25, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Well the books say it’s goat food. I will just give it to the kids to eat. It will be good for them. (;

    There was a jar’s worth of pickles out there this morning from the 25cent seeds I planted in March. Exactly 60 days to harvest.

  16. Zeke June 26, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    So you can’t miss any watering.

    I am now opening my green tomato relish and salsa from 2008, and they are fine. At least I got over my phobia of growing tomatoes now. Thanks. (:

  17. p.g.sharrow June 26, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    @Zeke; Glad to hear that you are enjoying “The Fruits of Your Labors” somehow home grown tomatoes just taste WAY better then those from the supermarket. Once you figure it out, growing tomatoes is a no brain er. They are just weeds that love warmth and some water. Very easy to root cuttings, any limb that touches the ground will soon root, and will live for years if they are kept warm. Below 50F they begin to use up their sugars and will soon “starve” to death.

    Canned salsa from 2008! not bad. A good job of preservation is an art of it’s own.

    Your cucumbers are a bit ahead of mine. I was a month late planting so mine are just now running up the trellis. Soon enough there will be way too many to use . Feast or famine!

    Next thing is to get people to get rid of their “summer” squash. Plant Butternut and spaghetti squash. The young ones are great sliced and steamed like summer squash and if there are too many just let them mature and they will keep 12 to 14 months in a dry place ! In a closet or under your bed. I pick dinner all summer and fall and then gather mature fruits for the winter, And no one turns down a gifted one. Try that with a zucchini or crookneck. 😉 pg

  18. Zeke June 28, 2014 at 10:43 am

    “Your cucumbers are a bit ahead of mine. I was a month late planting so mine are just now running up the trellis. Soon enough there will be way too many to use . Feast or famine!”

    There is a funny gardening comic I saw once, where two people were standing on the sidewalk next to a parked car, which had its window rolled down. They both look around and then one says, “Okay, no one is looking.” So they place a bag of zucchinis in the front seat of the car, and leave. (:

    Yes, squash is a good idea and I did not know they stored so well w/o refrigeration! They used to do a lot with just a simple cellar.

    Reply: yes I have seen that cartoon. Kind of a bad joke to anyone that has raised the things! You can only consume so many. pg

  19. p.g.sharrow June 28, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    @ Zeke; there are some things that need cool and damp, potatoes & carrots, some that need cool and dry such as cabbage & tomatoes, warm and dry like winter squash & sweet potatoes. Store not ripe tomatoes cool and dry then transfer to warm sunny shelf to ripen. The best thing to do is pull the fruit covered plants before a real frost and hang upside down by their roots in a cool dry place. Harvest all winter!
    The old timers knew and used every trick as they had no supermarket or refrigeration. A dug cellar could be used for much of this but under the bed works the best for sweet potatoes and winter squash! I have had winter squash and sweet potatoes last 2 years! under the bed, but the quality suffers after a year due to some dehydration. Besides the the chickens LOVE any that you can share. pg

  20. Zeke June 30, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Thanks for the tip PG, I will hang them up in the garage this time.

  21. Zeke July 3, 2014 at 9:16 am

    The little pickle cucumbers are good in the blender with some garlic and sour cream. It makes a Greek sauce.

    Have you seen the Turbo 500 still?

    It also works for essential oils.

  22. p.g.sharrow July 3, 2014 at 11:09 am

    @Zeke; Hi, I have a s/s water batch distillation unit that works with an electrically heated tank that I generally use. I also have a fairly complex vacuum still that I have not used. Both received as gifts from people that did not use them. The batch still will work with fairly course stuff. The vacuum still must have clean liquid only as it would be a bear to clean. Right now I am considering building an oil extraction unit based on a isobutane/butane refrigeration system. Isobutane was the refrigerant that F-12 was the direct replacement for, so, old F-12 equipment will work and I need a walk-in cooler, a twofer! Essential oil extractor and cooler.
    That Greek sauce sounds good but I might add some Basel as well. Lots of garlic! can’t have too much garlic 😉 keeps the vampires away! also ex-girl friends and ex-wives. 😆
    Just made the first batch, for this year, of Blackberry jam, Monday evening. Good stiff stuff, it will stand up to peanut butter. Peanut butter & Jam on bread is nearly a meal. pg

  23. Zeke July 4, 2014 at 8:35 am

    PG says, “Right now I am considering building an oil extraction unit based on a isobutane/butane refrigeration system. Isobutane was the refrigerant that F-12 was the direct replacement for, so, old F-12 equipment will work and I need a walk-in cooler, a twofer! Essential oil extractor and cooler.”

    PG that looks like a brilliant idea. I would have to read up to see how that would work. What is your interest in essential oils?

    Blackberries come much later here. You must have a different variety. Our state is covered with them, but you can make as much jam as you like if you get out there and gather them in time. So that is delicious (: Happy Fourth to you!

  24. p.g.sharrow July 4, 2014 at 10:58 am

    @Zeke; the blackberries in question are Giant Thornless, a European variety, a true blackberry with large thumb size berries and NO thorns! But they are on huge canes that are very strong.and they ripen a month before the local wild Pacific Dewberries or “blackberries”. They are heavy producers and did I say NO thorns! Easy to pick with the berries about 3 to 6 feet above the ground, but they must be well trellised and pruned to to maintain access or they would become an impenetrable cane brake with the berries atop 16 feet of bush. I can pick a gallon of berries in 20 minutes and enjoy it. Out in the wild berries it would take a couple of hours and I’d be bleeding and picking out stickers.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY United States of America! May she continue to be the hope of mankind that free men can manage their own affairs without the “help” of kings, emperors, or dictators. pg

  25. Zeke July 27, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    The beet greens are incredible! I got curious and threw some in a quiche. Very rich, like spinach, but thicker leaves and perfect texture after cooking.

    I had to cut around the leafminers though….

  26. p.g.sharrow July 28, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Yeah, The leaf miners are a pain. Just cut new leaves and trim. You can spray with “Safer Soap” but I just trim as I rarely spray. Too many other things that need doing first.
    Almost time to start canning “spice beets”, looks to be a good crop to work with.
    Just made some strawberry jam and over did the cook down. Stuff is a bit too stiff to spread on all grain bread! Taste is fine but a knife is needed to cut it from the jar. 😎 pg

  27. Zeke July 29, 2014 at 9:48 am

    I have never seen the little blighters on my property before I planted beets this year. Then they all show up for lunch…

    Spicy beets sound delicious, hope you get it all done at once, and can then cool off. I will look up a recipe to see what that is all about.

    If my jam doesn’t set I announce, “I have made a SAUCE.” And if it sets to cement I announce, “I have made a mixture for smoothies.” (:

    I have been trying out various recipes for the handfuls of little cherry tomatoes. I have some sundried in various cuts. I roasted them and put them in a blender, then mixed them with basil pesto. They are kinda sweet, and dry almost like a raisin. Needs experimenting.

  28. Zeke July 29, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Do you have strawberry beds?

  29. p.g.sharrow July 29, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    @Zeke; Canned spice Beets by pg:
    These are great! We even fight over who gets to drink the liquer drained off. 😎
    We have 1 strawberry bed that is in production, about 22ft by 4ft and a second that was planted last summer that is just starting to fill in. WE started picking in early April and will have berries into the fall. About 2 cups a week production. just enough to eat and make 3 or 4 pints of jam a month.
    My lady asks, What do you use the Greek cucumber sauce for? My cuks have started production, now what do I do with all of them?? I do need a better pickle recipe! A new challenge. pg

  30. Zeke July 30, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Hey Team Sharrow. What is the sauce for? I really wanted to find a replacement for Hidden Valley Ranch, which I use on cold pasta salads and potato salad. Like fresh herbs which you freeze in ice cubes, the small variety cucumbers can go in a blender, and then be frozen in ice cube trays. When the cuke cubes are thawing, you can pour off some of the juice so it is not as watery.

    The Greek recipe for Tzatziki uses yoghurt and mint and garlic with the cukes, so you can see how that is used – for dips, grills, and roasts.

    In various experiments, I have been adding the cucumber puree to sour cream, yoghurt, cream cheese, and even with lemon rice. All the cucumber sauces need to rest for a time in the fridge, I have found, for the flavors to flow together. So the cream cheese mixture makes a nice spread, with some chives.

    In other culinary misadventures, I attempted to make a cucumber leather for sandwiches all year. However, it does not form a leather, it just becomes sort of a grainy powder. Perhaps a tomato leather would taste good with some cucumber, but that does not sound as appetizing (unless it tastes like a kind of mixture that we like so much in V-8 juice, which is something very precisely mixed). I have not juiced any cucumbers. I need something that forms leather, but has very little taste, to put the cucumber puree in. So that is what I have so far! (: I have made over 20 jars of dill pickles though, and it is only July…fun. (:

  31. Zeke July 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    A new pickle recipe…a man told me his mother used to put one grape leaf in her pickles. I am going to try that later.

    Reply; Old leaf or new leaf?

  32. p.g.sharrow August 8, 2014 at 7:33 am

    @Zeke; I completed a batch of Peach jam from “White Peaches”a friend gave me. Nice orange pink color, My lady is so impressed that she demanded I “Reserve” it for her! lol, now she asks that I add some “3spice”
    I fine chop/puree a quart of fruit to a quart of sugar and add 2 tablespoons of Lemon Juice to preserve color and flavor during cook down.Jam is best with bits of whole fruit but I am lazy and have a “Kitchenaid” hand blender, so my chop is rather fine. The lemon juice seems to be a very important ingredient and must be added as soon as the fruit is exposed to the air. The acid also helps to “Spike up” the flavors. This seems to work with all the fruit that I have tried. pg

  33. Zeke August 13, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Nice of your friend to bring by the white peaches! I was given a couple of bags of perfect dark cherries again this year. I saw some peaches for sale in a small town after you said they make good jam, but did not end up buying them. I usually do not buy any thing because so much grows around here. But like you I am thrilled to take donations of extra fruit. I am in awe of people who keep good fruit trees. Cherries and peaches are just too high maintenance. People around here plant them all the time in their yards and they get covered with very bad diseases very quickly. It is disgusting, because the leaves blow into other people’s gardens. Also they must be kept small and well pruned, other wise they shoot up two stories very quickly.

    I read and reread the Ball Blue Book of Preserving every year. The lemon juice provides the acids that prevent the further growth of many bacteria and molds, once the food has been cooked and brought up to certain temperatures. I follow what the Blue Book says and I do not can anything that is not high acid. I may get a pressure canner some day but I just stick with a boiling water canner and use those recipes. I vary them only with caution. I also have some antique Kerr canning books. They are really sweet little pamphlets with good recipes and long forgotten tricks in preserving. And the food does keep indefinitely.

  34. Zeke August 21, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    pg, I keep forgetting to try the grape leaf suggestion. I’m sorry. I do know that Greek dolmades recipes use a medium sized leaf to wrap the filling. Cheers as always.

  35. p.g.sharrow August 21, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    @Zeke; yes, a large new leaf is used ti wrap dolmades.
    Generally, I can, with hot water bath method. The use of the large pressure cooker is a pain and tends to over cook the foods. Great, if you are cooking low acid or tough foods. Soon I will need to can more “spiced beets” This will be a major undertaking this year as I planted 3 beds over spring and early summer, about 5 weeks apart. The first bed is now fist size! A bumper crop! Way too much work, but everyone loves them.
    Emmm………………………… wonder if they want to help for a share. 😎 pg

  36. Zeke August 28, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    pg says, Way too much work, but everyone loves them.
    Emmm………………………… wonder if they want to help for a share.

    They will help you if they want to have some of your normal cooking. (: Cheers to the bumper crop. Get er done. (:

    I had the most fortuitous accident in the kitchen. I forgot to set the timer on my seasoned, roasted tomatoes, so they were truly blackened. They were half charred cherry tomatoes. I tasted one and did not have the heart to throw them away. I decided to throw them in the blender as planned, out of curiosity.

    The color was wonderful, and the taste was excellent! I remembered that Baja Fresh uses this method of charring to make their sauces. I put olive oil, a few black olives, a little water, and more salt in, and I have a very rich tomato spread with a deep red color and a smooth texture.


  37. p.g.sharrow August 29, 2014 at 7:51 am

    @Zeke; you are right about blackening to gain more flavor. I made a tomato and chile pepper sauce last year that people really like. Half tomatoes very reduced and a fourth chile peppers and a fourth cayenne peppers plus a good dose of onions. Used the mamasetia method of slow roasting the deseeded peppers over a smoky fire, Manzeneta. Then pureed. Not super hot, but hot enough for most. you only need a spoonful, very rich flavor.
    This year I had a total failure of the cayennes, slug ate all the seedlings, but a bumper crop of Ancho/poblanos so this years effort will have a different result. pg

  38. Zeke September 3, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    PG, sorry about the hot peppers lost to the slugs. You’ll miss the hot ones. Do you use them for salsa? After I got done with the grapes, pears, and the blackberries, I had a little mid season burn out and got behind…

    Hope you finished your beets. (:

  39. p.g.sharrow May 15, 2020 at 9:36 am

    lots of Amish Paste tomatoes as well as Anaheim and Cayenne pepper plants this year, maybe a salsa /sauce canning year. Blackberries are stunning! will need help working thru them. And maybe too many strawberries as well…pg

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