Gardening in a bottlerack (Willem)

 Already published on my desertification weblog on May 12, 2007

Gardening in a bottlerack

May 12, 2007

Posted by willem van cotthem in gardening kids, horticulture/gardening, desert/desert gardening, container/bottle gardening, family gardens, school gardens, success stories – best practices, water, soil, desertification, sustainability, technologies. trackback , edit post Being convinced there is a nice future for growing vegetables or other plants in plastic bottles, filled with a mix of potting soil and a soil conditioner like TerraCottem, I am continuously thinking about variants to enlarge application possibilities.

As in the drylands extreme drought, and thus extreme evaporation, is one of the main problems for agriculture and gardening, I suggest to limit this evaporation by using a plastic bottle to obtain a higher water use efficiency. Indeed, water can be stocked in a volume of potting soil, wherein a water absorbing soil conditioner can play its supplementary water stocking role. Please have a look at my former posting on this blog:

Mon potager dans des bouteilles en plastique / My vegetable garden in plastic bottles

May 10, 2007

This message contains info on how to transform a normal plastic bottle into an efficient container for growing all kinds of plants, even young trees (to be transplanted when reaching sufficient height).

Today, I present you an idea on a “bottlerack“, useful under different conditions :

1. In the drylands, where it can be interesting to fix the bottlerack against a shady wall (less evaporation when limiting direct sunshine).

2. Fixing the bottlerack on a wall protected from the main wind direction (less evaporation when less wind).

3. Fixing one or more bottleracks against a wall when not enough open space is available for growing plants directly in the soil.

Here are some drawings, made by my son Paul with the SketchUp program, to illustrate my ideas about such a bottlerack (with bottles prepared according to my suggestions in the former posting mentioned above).

Rack 1
Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Bottlerack with 20 bottles attached to a wall (double click on the picture to enlarge it).

Rack 2
Top view on the bottlerack.

Rack 3
Materials used for the bottlerack:

1. A (wooden) board

2. in which the chosen number of screw eyes, each with a piece of rope (to fix the upper part of the bottle)

3. and the same number of square screw hooks are drilled.

4. The necessary number of prepared plastic bottles.

Rack 4
The way the bottles are fixed on the board:

1. The bottle will be put on the square screw hook (of which the hook points upwards), with the drainage hole sliding over the hook.

2. The small rope will be knotted around the upper part of the bottle and tightly fixed on the screweye.

This way, the bottle is firmly sitting against the board and all bottles are in an upright position.

The board should be strongly fixed on the wall with 2-3 hooks. Take into account the weight of the bottles with their content of potting soil, water and plants.

Please give it a try and let me know about your experience with your own version of THE BOTTLERACK (preferably with some pictures).

With my sincere thanks.


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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

One thought on “Gardening in a bottlerack (Willem)”

  1. I am going to try the bottle rack this season.
    Here are my ideas

    -First, use a peg board instead of a solid board.

    With a pegboard one can actually use both sides.

    A pegboard can be hung with several circles of fishing string or twine from above.

    With these methods, the old idea that a family needed one acre to subsist may be quite passe.

    It would be an interesting experiment to see how much food could be grown in the smallest space.

    Hill potatoes- 50 lbs in 3 foot triangle

    Doyle blackberry- 10+ gallons per plant

    4 foot square with peg boards on 2 sides and one in the middle making an H shape. Plant in the ground and on both sides of each peg board.

    With five foot high peg boards, that is 91 square feet of planting area, as opposed to just 16 if you use simple square foot gardening.

    One could keep chickens or goats for milk with the tremendous amount of greens produceable.

    I just think this is the greatest idea in agriculture.

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