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.Â 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.
- Place the funnel atop the tower, nesting it firmly in the soil of the level below.
- 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 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.
- 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 medicinals (aloe, parsley, mint, basil, oregano) and flowers (marigolds and zinnias do very well).
- 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.
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