With all the chemically-sprayed herbs that we sometimes purchase, one can help but wonder which products sold on the market are still being organically cultivated? How do we choose? The truth of the matter is, we’d be better of growing our own herbs, even our own fruits and vegetables. Sadly, not everyone has time, patience or sufficient garden space to do so.
If you’re a fan of Jamie Oliver’s cooking shows, you already know that he has a bunch of herbs and plants that he grows by himself, in his own kitchen and garden. Here’s a crazy idea, why not try to grow them yourself? We can teach you how to create your own bottle tower garden with items you probably have lying around the house. Just as the name suggests it, this is a tower built out of recycled plastic bottles that’s extra affordable to make, saves a lot of space and allows you to grow the herbs of your choice.
Don’t want to build your own? Check out our guide to the best tower gardens you can buy.
Benefits of Having a Bottle Tower Garden
Before we dive into the actual steps for making one of these, here are some reasons why this should be your next DIY home project:
- It’s a great way to recycle a bunch of old soda and water bottles.
- Since the tower is built vertically, it will help you save a lot of space. This means that it’s ideal for people who have small gardens or just don’t want to use up too much space for growing herbs and flowers.
- Aside from the seeds and soil needed to grow these plants, you most likely have every other item you need around the house, making this project not only useful but also affordable.
- It doesn’t take a lot of time to complete, so if you have this Saturday off, the project should be done in no time.
- You can always add more bottles with more soil to grow even more herbs and spices. That means that you can grow this little garden at any time.
- The system works in such a way that you won’t be wasting water to grow these plants and herbs (you’ll discover more about that when we go over the steps).
What You Need
As mentioned above, this DIY project uses items that people have lying around the house. Here’s a list of what you need:
- A generous number of 2-liter bottles, depending on how big you want your vertical garden to be. You should have at least 3-4 bottles for each tower and multiply that number depending on how many towers you want.
- A sharp pair of scissors for poking holes in the plastic bottles. Could also be a nail or anything sharp and resistant.
- A small incision knife or a box cutter, for cutting through plastic.
- A small ruler, for a couple of measurements.
- A marker, as you will need to but the bottles and poke them according to specific measurements.
- Twine or wire or anything that’s sturdy enough to hold the bottles into place on the support system where your garden will be placed.
- Garden soil, compost or potting mix.
- Seeds or seedling of several flowers, herbs or small plants that you want to grow.
How It’s Made
There are 4 major steps to finishing this project, but each of them is divided into smaller ones. First, you will need to create a base for the tower. Then, we move on to creating the actual tower levels. The third big step is all about creating the drip irrigation system and, last but not least, we will be planting the actual flowers or herbs or small vegetables that you want to grow.
We begin by creating the base for the tower. The 2-liter plastic bottles you are going to use probably have their labels on them. Before you remove those labels (this is optional, but let’s face it: your garden will look better if there are no soda labels showing off between your greens), make a cut below the end of that label. You need to make sure you preserve a small portion of the bottom curve inward. If you follow this instruction precisely, the bottles should later stack with ease. Remove the base of the bottle after cutting.
Measure 3 inches above the cap, on the opposite sides of the bottle (you can use a ruler and a marker to place the dots). Then, using a sharp pair of scissors, poke those 2 holes at the diameter of a BIC pen. These are the water drainage holes.
Now it’s time to add the soil inside the bottle. You can opt for garden soil, compost or potting mix, whichever is at hand. Make sure you leave about one inch of space at the top of the bottle. Also, press the soil gently so that there are no air gaps between the layers of soil.
This is the final small step of creating the tower base. Identify the supporting structure where you want to place your bottle tower. It could be anything from a wired fence, to a wooden one or even a chain-link one. Using twine or wire, tie the base of your tower to that structure, making sure it doesn’t wobble, as we wouldn’t want your soil-filled bottles to fall and make a mess.
Now we move on to creating the tower levels. Take another plastic bottle and repeat the first step.
Repeat step #3 and remember to press the soil gently as you add it inside the bottle and leave that one inch of space we talked about earlier.
Depending on how tall you want your tower to be, repeat the steps 5 to 6, always making sure that you remove the cap after adding the soil and tying the bottle to the structure so that there are no loose ends.
Note: You can add about 4-5 bottles stacked on top of each other to create 1 vertical tower, but that doesn’t stop you from adding parallel towers. You will just have to repeat the steps from 1 to 7 if you want to create a really generous garden.
Now we move on to the creation of the irrigation system. Yes, you will need more plastic bottles. Take one and cut it in half. As you can tell, this bottle is shorter than the others, as it will become your watering funnel.
Using a very sharp object (could be a solid pair of sharp scissors, a nail, a cutter or something similar), poke a 1 mm hole inside the cap of the watering bottle.
Attach the cap of the funnel bottle. Then poke two holes in the sides. Now, place the funnel on top of the tower you previously created, making sure that it rests firmly on the soil of the supporting bottle beneath it.
Above the funnel, you can now place the watering bottle (the one with the hole in the cap). The order of the bottles (from top to bottom) should be watering bottle (with the hole in the cap), the funnel, tower body, tower body, tower body, tower base.
Note: If the funnel and tower bottle don’t have enough stability, you can tie them down just as you did with the soil bottles.
Here we begin the final phase of our DIY bottle tower: planting and growing. Using a box cutter or a very small incision knife, you will need to cut small squares into each soil bottle. You can use a marker to draw a square on each bottle, facing forward, with each side measuring 1.5 to max 2 inches. Cut only 3 of the 4 square sides, leaving the bottom side of the square uncut.
Fold down the small flap you just created and, using your finger, poke a hole into the soil. Now, place the seeds or seedlings of your choice in that small hole.
You can now fill the top bottle with clean water, making sure you replenish the stock every few days.
Wait patiently and the enjoy watching your vertical garden grow fresh produce for your future meals.
This simple DIY gardening project is ideal for everyone who is either passionate about growing plants or is tired of purchasing everything from thyme to basil from the market. Don’t let the 15 steps fool you: creating a vertical bottle garden is actually very simple and it can be done in a matter of hours. It takes up little garden space and you really need is a sturdy support system for all the soil bottles you want to have. Did you try this how to? How did it go? Share your experience with us by commenting below!