Bottle and bag gardening: success confirmed (Tolledot / Willem)

Already published on my desertification weblog on May 25, 2007

Bottle and bag gardening: success confirmed (Tolledot)

May 25, 2007

Posted by willem van cotthem in container/bottle gardening, horticulture/gardening. trackback , edit post

Here is a nice confirmation of the potentialities of my suggestion to apply bottle gardening at a large scale :

“Willem, I have been using bottles myself on my balcony for some time with much success. I usually try to recycle what I can – see the link to my Flickr photos showing a bottle with 4 pepper plants (now flowering), 2 Tomatoes in a home-made plastic bag and some Lettuce growing in a supermarket yoghurt tray lined with a large plastic bag – 2 party cups in the middle with shoe-laces provide automatic watering. I don’t claim originality – some of the ideas are from others with some development. I think it’s great you’re promoting this idea which is so simple, practically free and, if enough people do it, will certainly help somewhat towards a cleaner world. Keep it up!”

Going to Tolledot’s photos I discovered some interesting variants of plastic bottle gardening and plastic bag gardening. Thanks, Tolledot, and let us continue to exchange good ideas and variants.

Please go to

to see 5 photos of Tolledot


Photo : Lettuce in Supermarket tray
Tolledot’s legend : Self-watering! – just keep the cups filled with water and the shoelaces will draw the water to the soil – fill up to half the final depth, spread the laces evenly on the soil, then fill up and plant seeds or seedlings. Kudos to Topper (Topper’s Place) for the idea.

My comment : Excellent idea ! You used a supermarket yoghurt tray (perforated for drainage, I hope), but any plastic tray of a certain depth could be used for vegetable production. Having developed the TerraCottem (TC) soil conditioner (, I recommend to mix the potting soil in the tray with the optimal dosage of TC. This is to stock a maximum of water. I also recommend to cover the potting soil with a mulch layer of 1-2 cm of river sand, thus limiting evaporation. The use of shoe laces or any other tissue ribbons, hanging in plastic cups with water and dispersed in the potting soil, is a brilliant idea to keep the substrate moistened (a variant of drip irrigation).


Photo : Bottle 4 Peppers

Tolledot’s legend : There are slits all around the bottle about 1″ (2.5 cm) up from the bottom for drainage which will allow a water reservoir so you can easily skip some days without watering. If you paint it, it would make a nice hanging container…

My comment : The idea of making slits 1″ (2.5 cm) above the bottom all around seems good, because this way some water can be collected at the bottom (for water adsorption through capillarity if daily watering is impossible). However, the danger exists that this little quantity of water can create some acidity in the substrate, which could have a slight negative effect on plant growth. I prefer to add a water stocking soil conditioner to the potting soil and have the drainage hole precisely in the plastic bottom of the bottle.


Photo : Bottle 4 peppers 2

Tolledot’s legend : I cut out a small hole and cut an X to allow easier insertion of the plants. Depending on the size of the plants and the bottle, you can put more or less plants in one bottle.

My comment : This is again a marvelous idea, offering possibilities to have more than one single plant growing in the plastic bottle. of course, this is only valid for larger bottles, offering enough space for the root system of several plants.


Photo : Hanging bag Tomatoes

Tolledot’s legend : I water from the top and cut some slits around the bottom for drainage.

My comment : I wonder why the slits, in which the tomatoes are planted, are sitting at the bottom of the bag. Logically, the slits should be at the top of the substrate, in order to let the roots grow downwards. Any special reason ?


Photo : Hanging bag Tomatoes 2

Tolledot’s legend : –

My comment : Nevertheless, the tomatoes seem to develop very well.

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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