Bottle tower gardening: how to start ? (Willem Van Cotthem)

Together with my friend Gilbert VAN DAMME (Zaffelare, Belgium) I have set up some successful experiments with vertical gardening in “container towers”.

We are using all kinds of recycled containers, e.g. plastic bottles, pots, buckets.  The containers are stacked into “towers”.

Today, I will describe the way how to start a “bottle tower”, illustrating the different steps with some photos:

2011-09-07 - Step 1 :We leave the lid on bottle No. 1 (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 2 : We cut the bottom part of bottle No. 1 (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 3 : Bottom part of the bottle No. 1 cut off (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 4 : With a sharp object (here scissors) the wall of bottle No. 1 is perforated at 2-4" (5-10 cm) from the top of the lid (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 5 : A second perforation (drainage hole) is made diagonally across the bottle No. 1. Below the 2 holes a small reserve of water is kept in the bottle. Through these drainage holes a possible surplus of water can be evacuated(Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 6 : Bottle No. 1 is filled with potting soil (or a mixture of dirt and manure) up to 1-2" (2,5-5 cm) of the edge of the bottle (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 7 : Bottle No. 1 is the bottom bottle of the future tower (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 8 : For the next 3 bottles (No. 2, 3 and 4, without the 2 drainage holes) we take the lid off and cut the bottom part (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 9 : After filling the 3 bottles (No. 2, 3 and 4) with potting soil, they will be put upon the bottom bottle of the tower (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 10 : A tower of the 4 bottles (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 11 : The bottle tower is kept upright with a couple of simple wires (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 12 : We use the top part of a bottle (No. 5, without the lid) as a funnel and push the bottleneck into the soil of the upper bottle No. 4 (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 – Step 13 : A bottle No. 6 will be used as a watertank on top of the funnel (Bottle No. 5). Therefore, a small (1 mm) perforation of the lid is made (here with a drill) (Photo WVC)
2011-09-07 – Step 14 : Bottle no. 6 is the top bottle, used as a watertank, water running slowly through this small hole (Photo WVC)
2011-09-07 – Step 15 : Watertank bottle No. 6 is pushed into bottle No. 5, the funnel (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 16 : The whole tower is now gradually moistened by pouring water in the top bottle No. 6 with its perforated lid. Water drips into the funnel (Bottle No. 5) and through this it infiltrates into the potting soil of bottles No. 4, 3, 2 and 1, where a possible surplus of water will be evacuated through the 2 drainage holes in the wall (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 17 : Water runs slowly from the watertank (Bottle No. 6) into the funnel (Bottle No. 5) and from there into the soil of Bottle No. 4 (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 17 : Water running slowly from the watertank (Bottle No. 6) into the funnel (Bottle No. 5) (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 18 : With a sharp knife we cut a horizontal slit and two vertical slits in Bottles No. 4, 3, 2 and 1(Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 19 : Thus a small "window" is created in Bottles No. 4, 3, 2 and 1 (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 20 : With a finger one can push a small cavity in the potting soil (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 21 : The rootball of seedlings or young plants can be planted in the "window" of each bottle (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 22 : Pretty soon new roots will be formed in the humid potting soil and the young plants will start their growth without to be watered regularly, because the complete tower is almost not loosing water (almost no evaporation) (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 23 : It takes only a couple of weeks to see all the species of vegetables and herbs, planted in the "bottle windows", developing into fantastic fresh food, full of vitamins and mineral elements (Photo WVC)

2011-09-07 - Step 23 : A remarkable kitchen garden is born with minimal means and efforts. It can be set up at any location in rural and urban areas, a very effective tool in the combat of hunger, malnutrition and poverty (Photo WVC)

 

 

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About Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.
This entry was posted in container/bottle gardening, food / food security, hunger / famine / malnutrition, plastic (PET) bottles / bags, plastic containers, vertical gardening. Bookmark the permalink.