DIY Vertical Garden (Green Wall) with Automatic Irrigation
How to Build a Vertical Garden from Soda Bottles
Here is a way to maximize your limited porch or garden space by growing vertically. You'll learn to make drip-irrigating garden towers out of recycled 2-liter soda bottles. This method works well for growing flowers, herbs, and small veggies.
Create a Base for the Tower
Cut around the base of one soda bottle. Make the cut a bit below where the label ends, ideally so that a tiny bit of the bottom curve inward is preserved. This will help the bottles nest tightly together when you stack them. Discard base of bottle
Poke two drainage holes with scissors, on opposite sides, about three inches above the cap.How big? No bigger than the diameter of a Bic pen.
Fill the bottle with potting mix, compost or garden soil, pressing the soil in lightly.Leave an inch of space at the top of the bottle.
Tie the base for your tower onto a supporting structure, such as chain-link fencing or wire, with twine.
Build the Tower Levels
Cut the bottom off a bottle, just as you did to create the base.Remove the cap and discard.
Fill the bottle gently with soil, as for the base, reserving one inch of space at the top.
Nest the bottle firmly atop the base, and tie it on.
Repeat this part 1-3 times, depending on how tall you want your tower to be.
Create a Drip Irrigation System
Cut a bottle in half about midway toward the top.This bottle will be shorter than the others, and will serve as a funnel for watering.
Cut the bottom off a final bottle, just as you did for the base and tower levels.This will be the watering bottle.
Drill a one mm hole in the cap, or pierce with a nail, and replace cap.
Place the funnel atop the tower, nesting it firmly in the soil of the level below.
Place the watering bottle atop the funnel, and (optionally) tie down.
Plant and Grow
Cut three lines in each soil bottle with a box cutter, as if you were drawing the top and sides of a square.(Each side of the square should be about 1.5-2 inches.) Leave the bottom of the square uncut, and instead fold down the flap. This creates a valve to hold the soil and seedling in.
Poke a hole, and insert a small seedling or seeds.
Fill the watering bottle every few days, as needed.
QuestionOn the funnel bottle do you also put a hole in the cap, or is it removed?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, the funnel bottle has a cap with a hole in it. One professor suggested filling the funnel bottle with a handful of sand to help filter the water.Thanks!
QuestionWould this be good for cantaloupes or other melons?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. The fruit is too heavy and will pull the structure down. Similarly, pumpkins and other large varieties of squash also won't do well in a vertical garden. These types of plants prefer to sprawl over long, horizontal distances rather than vertical.Thanks!
QuestionCould I grow strawberries this way using bigger bottles?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou certainly could; you could use the same format but use gallon milk jugs. Each one can have three or four strawberry plants in it, just cut more "windows."Thanks!
QuestionDo you put holes in all of the other caps except for the first one? How does water get to other bottles?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou don't put the caps on the bottles except for the first one and the top funnel bottle (which also has a hole in it.)Thanks!
QuestionWhat was the substrate? Peat based?Community AnswerIt doesn't matter, use the soil that suits the plants you're going to grow.Thanks!
QuestionHow does the water get to all of the bottles?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThis system uses gravity to water all of the bottles in a chain reaction sort of way. The tower is made from three different types of bottles. The watering bottle at the top drains through a tiny hole in the cap into the tower bottles in the middle, which have soil and no caps. Each of those drain through the open cap holes into the tower bottles below it. Finally, the lowest tower bottle drains into the base bottle, which has a cap on the bottom to keep the soil in, but also has a few holes on the sides to allow for proper drainage so your plants do not drown.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I grow, apart from lettuce and herbs?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAnything small that won't overflow the bottles with roots or break it due to weight. If you scroll down to tips, it has a list of great suggestions.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I do with excess marigold flowers?Community AnswerTurn it into compost. Basically, you let it rot and then mix it into the soil of other plants. It gives them nutrients. Go to the article on How to Compost for more information.Thanks!
QuestionIs there any concern about chemicals leaching out of the 2 liter bottles?Community AnswerYou're right, chemicals might leach into the soil and poison the plants. If you're concerned, line the bottles with something.Thanks!
- If the watering bottle ceases to drip, check the drainage hole in the cap for clogging.
- Try adding a handful of sand to the watering bottle to slow the drip rate and allow more gradual and efficient watering.
- Wondering what to plant? This method can work for growing smaller veggies such as lettuce, arugula, dandelion greens, beets, radishes, beans, or peas. Also try various herbs or medicinal plants (aloe, parsley, mint, basil, oregano) and flowers (marigolds and zinnias do very well).
Things You Will Need
- 5 or more 2-liter soda bottles
- Box cutter or exacto knife
- Twine or baling wire (about 3 feet)
- Chain link fence, wire frame, or other supporting structure
- 3 or more seedlings, or seeds for 3+ plants
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