Make a self watering planter from a pop bottle (Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas)

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Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas

Make a self watering planter from a pop bottle

Since recycling began its course as the ‘green’ alternative there has been a new trend to start re-using rather than just regurgitating waste products into basic resources. The idea is that an item may have another use rather than its original intended purpose. Here’s a classic example of re-using an item in a different way to create a totally new product rather than turn it into recycled matter. Imagine using your soft drink bottles as self watering planters. Normally wasted, or at least recycled, the humble pop bottle is given a new lease of life. Linda takes you through a step by step project on how to turn your bottles into planters that can then raise seedlings, cuttings or even contain small plants.

Watering with 2-liter bottles? (Garden Web)

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iVillage Garden Web

Watering with 2-liter bottles?

I know I’ve read about using inverted soda bottles to water the garden – burying them part way, cutting the bottoms off, and poking holes in the lids to let the water run out (not in that order, of course). My question is this: How large should the holes in the lid be? I’m hoping that this will make it easier for my boyfriend to tend the garden while I’m gone next week. ūüôā

Follow-Up Postings:Here one can find a number of sugestions

Make your own Pop Bottle Pots (Topper’s Place)

Scrolling through¬† Linda TOPPER’s website I discovered a wonderful description of the way she makes “Pop Bottle Pots“.¬† Congratulations, Linda !

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Topper’s Place (see my Blogroll)

Go to the left column and click :

Pop Bottle Pots…


I’ve never been a rich person and mostly work too many hours. So I’ve had to learn to do things on a tight budget for both time and money.¬† I have done a lot of do-it-yourself projects. I’ve been making and using pop bottle pots for years… They aren’t in any way fancy, but they are cheap and fairly easy to make, and best of all, the plants love ’em! Believe it or not I even used them to line my front porch and planted Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes in them. By keeping the water reservoir filled with a very mild dilution of Miracle Grow and keeping the plants pruned I had a wall of cherry tomato plants just outside my front door, ready to pick snacks and the plants made a cool looking tall and slender ‘hedge’ giving me more privacy.


Pop Bottle Pot with Alpine Strawberry (18434 bytes) Here’s a finished pop bottle pot from in my greenhouse. I have a young alpine strawberry planted in it (click on it for a larger view). It’s sitting in front of some water jugs that were used for thermal storage in my solar greenhouse. I was testing to see if I got better production from warmer or cooler plants.


Continue reading Make your own Pop Bottle Pots (Topper’s Place)

A bottle drip irrigation system (You Grow Girl)

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You Grow Girl

Make your own pop bottle drip irrigation system

by Gayla Sanders

The last time I forgot to water my outdoor potted plants and discovered them completely wilted and hanging on the cusp of near death, I decided it was time to take action. Some of the plants on my deck receive a full, searing sun all day long during the hottest mid summer days. While these plants thrive under such conditions if properly taken care of, they will die quickly if they don’t receive enough water. Although it has been unusually rainy this year in these parts, full sun deck plants will still get extremely hot and dry very quickly.

One of the best ways to provide a steady water supply to your plants without your constant attention is the gradual watering system or drip irrigation. Through this method a device is employed that slowly delivers water into the soil directly around the roots. Commercial watering spikes can be purchased from you local garden centre however, using recycled materials you can make your own drip irrigation system for free.

(continued – nice pictures included)

Weed Free Garden Blanket (Google Alert / Enquirer)

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Google Alert for gardening

The Enquirer

System makes organic gardening a snap

Upturned bottle reservoirs on grow bags (Cottage Smallholder)

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The Cottage Smallholder

Archive for the ‘Watering’ Category

Tip top care for tomatoes

new tomato plant and resevoir of water………………

I discovered that if you put a plant in a five gallon drum it has a great future. We don’t have any five gallon drums knocking about so I read on and discovered that our preferred method, grow bags, are fraught with problems. Poor water retention leading to weak root growth.

I learnt that if I placed each tomato plant in a bottomless pot, plunged into the grow bags, the plants would produce better root systems. Cutting the bottoms off 15 of these plastic pots was challenging. My wrists ached. Apparently I was not giving my plants sufficient water. Particularly towards mid summer, when the plants have grown and are flourishing and the roomy grow bag is still exactly the same size. This is where the upturned bottle reservoirs come into their own. You cut the bottoms off a number of plastic bottles and stick one into both ends of the grow bag, neck first. Bottles with long thin necks work best. Then you top them up every time you water. The water stays in the bottle until it’s needed. The bottles were half full this morning but empty by the evening and this is only June.

We drank bottled water and tonic like mad (forget the gin) so as to release the bottles into the wild of our grow bags. Tonight, finally we have the ten bottles in place in our five grow bags.

Several methods for strawberry production (Tucson Gardener)

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The Tucson Gardener

The Strawberry Adventures

It’s easy to start new strawberry plants from the runners. Each small pot is the beginning of a new plant.

Last year’s impulse purchase of a dozen bare-root strawberry plants and two plastic grow bags turned into an adventure in search of a suitable method to grow strawberries in my garden. The plastic grow bags are long gone but the strawberry plants have multiplied and prospered. Whether it’s worth the few strawberries I picked this past spring is debatable but you can’t say I didn’t try several methods for strawberry production with varying degrees of success. Strawberry plants produce runners which in turn produce a plant at the end and then the new plant may send off another runner and so forth. The plants easily root whether it’s in the soil or small soil filled pots. The simplicity of strawberry plant propagation is what caused my troubles to begin. I rooted just about every plantlet I saw and by the end of last summer (2003) I had dozens and dozens of¬†young strawberry plants. Continue reading Several methods for strawberry production (Tucson Gardener)

Brazilian rhapsody in PET blue (J.C. Guimaraes)

Today, I received a very interesting comment from Brazil.  Thanks to Joao Carlos GUIMARAES we can now set up some experiments with PET bottles to limit irrigation.  Should this system work well, a lot of water can be saved.  Please read his suggestion to keep the rootball of young trees moistened :

Dear Sir

Since 2 months ago, I  have experimented to use 2 liters PET bottles to make irrigation of baby trees. Where we live, in Brazilian Amazonia, it is now summer season, meaning 6 months dry with high temperatures, until next December.         

It is very simple:

* Just perforate a little hole –¬† 2 mm – at bottom of the bottle.

* Excavate a hole in the soil with the diameter of the bottle,  more or less 20 cm deep, near the roots.

* Put bottle in the hole. Cover side with soil.

* Fill bottle with water before putting it in the hole.

* Close well the  bottle cap. (If you keep bottle open or badly closed, water will infiltrate quickly in the soil).

* When soil is dry, it pulls water from the bottle (via capilarity,¬† or percolation, or vacuum,¬† I don’t know¬† very well).

* When soil is humid, the level of water in the bottle stays almost intact.

* Depending on soil and sun, I  completed the water level once to 3 times a week.

It’s interesting to see that some bottles get deformated, crushed,¬† because of the vacuum force of soil suction.

Now I’m going to set up an experiment with 2 or 4 bottles per tree. Then, I don’t need to wait for the rain season to plant more trees.

As I said before, this is a new experiment. Maybe others could share it and upgrade it.  If you want some photos of it, I will be glad to send them to you.

Best regards

Jo√£o Carlos Guimaraes
State of Par√°


Isn’t this a marvelous idea ?¬† I know that, when planting trees in urban areas, perforated tubes are put in the plant pit close to the stem to facilitate watering.¬† But this quite simple technique to use PET bottles was unknown to me.¬† Should you know more about it from literature,could you please send me a comment ?

I intend to set up some experiments with this “system for water use efficiency” for our UNICEF project in the Sahara desert.

Looking forward for your reactions.

Joseph TOLLEDOT’s successes with container gardening

Here is some good news about Joseph TOLLEDOT’s experiments with container gardening (bottles, buckets, etc.) :

I saw your bottle garden and it’s looks like it’s going well. Mine were doing excellently, but we had very strong winds one night and the terrace looked like a tornado had been through!¬† I patched up the plants as best as I could and they are now doing well again.¬† Some I have transplanted into large buckets made into self-watering containers – in my opinion, definitely THE way to grow and use up all the water efficiently!¬† Nearly every weekend I can pick several tomatoes, peppers and radishes to eat. The lettuce has finished now and it’s far too hot to plant more.¬† I’ll wait till it starts to get cooler. Loads of different hot peppers (I got the seeds from a free offering from GardenWeb) are now starting to produce pods.¬† I never realised how beautiful and different they can be!

I’ll let you know when I get some new photos up in my Flickr page.

Thanks, Joseph !  This sounds fantastic and very promising for application of bottle (or bucket) gardening in very dry areas, like for instance our UNICEF project in the refugee camps of Algeria (Sahara desert).  Over there, the Sahrawi people only have a very limited amount of drinking water.  Although everyone accepts the importance of local production of fresh vegetables, it still sounds difficult to convince the authorities to provide some more water to irrigate their family gardens and school gardens.

different species
All kinds of bottles can be used for growing all kinds of plants (vegetables, herbs, trees) with a minimum of water (less infiltration in poor sandy soil, less evaporation in desertlike circumstances). (Click on the picture to enlarge it).

Therefore, I believe that container gardening would offer interesting possibilities to limit irrigation water to the strict minimum.

Could you, Joseph, send me a detailed description of your self-watering buckets, for I think it may contribute to food security for these people in the desert ?  Sincere thanks for your humanitarian contribution.

Tomato plant in a plastic bottle (Joseph TOLLEDOT)

Read in Joseph TOLLEDOT’S message of June 28th, 2007 and seen at his 

showing a nice experiment with a happy tomato plant in a water bottle cut in half

 Our exchange of comments was throwing some light on the effectiveness of this simple system :

1. Joseph : This is one bottle cut in two – the top is longer to hold more soil and I just inverted it into the bottom – I left the cap on and made a hole in it for the wick. I used a strip cut from a fibre kitchen wiper as wick. There is definitely a problem with the algae growth, but I suppose it could be remedied by painting the outside of the bottle or using opaque ones like milk bottles.

2. Willem : That’s very practical. Do you need a wick? If the cap is touching the bottom of the reservoir, could a hole in the bottleneck be sufficient to have the water adsorbed by the potting soil ? Maybe you can wrap the bottom part in aluminium foil to avoid algae growth ?

3. Joseph : Yes, you don’t need a wick if you push in the top to the bottom. See the following where I have picked up many ideas: