Making a Hanging Botanical Garden...
Would you like to grow your own fresh herbs but don't have space for a traditional garden? With just a few empty soda bottles and a green thumb, you can utilize your vertical space and create your very own Hanging Gardens of Babylon with just a few minutes' preparation.
What you'll Need:
Draw two ovals on opposite sides of the bottles. Keep in mind that the bottom of the bottles will become the top of the planters. The top of the ovals should be around 2.5” below the base of the bottle and 4.5” from the top. Space them evenly so as to maintain as much structural integrity as possible.
Drilling The Bottles
Drill a hole in the bottom of each bottle to insert the uncapped neck of another. The diameter of an uncapped soda bottle, including threads, is around 1-1/8”. I had difficulty obtaining a speed bore in this size, and had to settle for a 1”. This required me to expand the holes slightly by angling and rotating the bit. The plastic is thicker than expected. Go slow, apply light and even pressure, and always let the drill do the work. Be careful of your hands and legs. Remember to test the fit often; you don't want to over-drill.
Drilling The Caps
Drilling holes in the caps will allow any excess water to flow down to the next plant and helps keep your floor dry. Hold the cap firmly on a scrap of wood and drill a 1/8” hole into it. Again, it's very important to be mindful of your hands. There's no need to apply much force.
Cut along the patterns you made earlier on the bottles. The sharper your knife is, the safer and easier this will be.
You should now have five cut and drilled bottles.
Choose a bottle to be the top one. Remove the cap and wedge the neck into the base of another. This should require a little muscle work. Once you have it in, reach through the holes in the adjoined bottle and replace the cap. The cap will act as a nut on a bolt. Repeat until you have all the bottles connected.
Optional Pro Tip: If you think your plants will be getting a lot of sun and heat, it would be prudent to paint the section of the bottles containing the soil white. This will help to retain moisture.
Hang your planter securely from your ceiling or a shelving bracket. The final weight will be about 20 to 30 pounds, so make sure your anchor point can support that. Fill with lightly packed soil to a half inch below the base of the openings. Plant your seeds or starts as directed on their packaging. Water and enjoy!
A Few Months Later
When selecting the order of the plants, keep in mind sun and water preferences, as well as their expected adult size. For the one above, the order was cherry tomato, mint, rosemary, thyme, then lavender. It helps to train the plants to grow out of the bottles. The tomato was planted on the top, as it is the tallest. It produced a small but tasty harvest. The mint needs to be pruned to keep it from blooming or outgrowing its space. The rosemary and thyme thrived, and both preferred the sunnier side. The lavender is healthy and flowering, but also needed to be pruned. For climbing plants, a length of rope running down the side of the planter can be used as a lattice.
Original article and photos by Mikerb0t, Wired.com.
Preparing the Bottles:
The more thick and transparent the bottles, the better. Minute Maid bottles are surprisingly sturdy, but any 2 liter soda bottles will do. Remove the labels and clean the bottles throughly. Make sure to rinse out any soap — your plants won't like it.
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