Who says that growing plants in your own home has to be expensive with all the specialized equipment? With just an upcycled milk bottle or a 1.5L bottle (and a few other mandatory items), you can have your very own garden in your backyard! Depending on whether you use a hydroponic system or traditional methods of farming, the things you will need may differ slightly. If you have an empty bottle lying around and an inner desire to grow some plant babies, here are some simple ways that you can do so!
1. Passive Hydroponics
Also known as wicking or a self-watering planter, this is probably one of the easiest ways to convert your bottle into a site for farming your plant. It essentially works the same way as an Earthbox, with the additional equipment that you need — a wick.
To do this, cut your bottle into half before creating your wick, in which a used, worn-out sock can do the trick. Stuff the sock halfway into the bottle top and ensure that the hole is completely covered. After this, mix a medium of your choice, and a popular method would be to mix an equal amount of perlite and peat moss. A tip is to use Miracle Grow products to substitute fertilizer in your water. Next, fill the bottom half of the bottle with two liters of water, and submerge the top half of the bottle into the water, upside down. Ensure that the wick is about one inch immersed in the water. Fill the bottle with your medium and then carefully pour in about one cup of water to wet your medium. Next, sow the seeds just under the top layer of the medium and proceed to cover the top of your planter in cling wrap to expedite the germination process. Store it in a warm place and ensure that it receives plenty of sunlight.
2. Hydro Farming
Instead of restricting this DIY bottle project to the confines of your home, farmers may use bottles to engage in hydro farming on a large scale as well. Rows of bottles could be set up as planters on a large piece of land in hydro farming and it could be engineered into a greenhouse as well. It is essentially high-volume food production without the use of dirt or traditional fertilizers like soil. Because bottles are able to contain the plants well, they act as idyllic places for crops to thrive and serve as great substitutes for conventional pots or containers.
3. Closed System
A type of closed hydroponics system that also involves PVC pipes, the screw-top element of soda or milk bottles serve as great homes for plants. Regardless of whether this is done on a small scale with minimal planting spots or on a massive scale like commercial farming, this method can be ideal for both. In this case, the nutrient reservoir will lie in a separate container and the portion of the recycled bottles being used will be painted on the outside to prevent algae growth. A note to bear in mind is that the roots do not require light, and sunlight is only essential for the leaves and stems.
4. Vertical Gardening
Regardless of the method of watering your plant — by hand or mechanically attached to a pump — the bottle makes for a suitable home for your plant as a container for growing instead of out. Vertical farming may be more advantageous depending on the crops you grow and the substantial length of any 1.5-liter bottle makes it perfect if you want to try your hand at vertical farming.
5. Window Farms
The set-up for window farms are highly versatile and can vary greatly, depending on your budget. While they can be attached to a pump for more regular watering, they can also use passive hydroponics too. Though you can buy a proper WindowFarms system, you can replicate its original setup that utilizes recycled bottles as well. This setup typically works with a pump for the top tier plants and drip irrigation the crops below.
6. Indoor Greenhouse
With just recycled bottles, you can create your very own indoor greenhouse in your home or backyard. Since the main challenge is to keep the seeds moist at all times so that they can sprout without the use of special equipment, you can simply make use of the bottom half of the recycled bottle to cover the pot to prevent too much moisture from escaping the surface of your growing medium.
7. Drip Irrigation Reservoir
This method is perfect for potted plants, ground growing, or container gardens, and the varying size and different needs that your desired crop requires will determine the method of growth. Using a drop catheter, you can recreate the same setting as a proper drip irrigation reservoir feature. With a soda bottle filled with water, you can jam it entirely into a pot for it to function the same way, or you can simply suspend the bottle above your planters, and poke a tiny hole in the bottle cap to allow the water to drip. With a smaller budget, you will be able to use the same method of planting your crops without compromising on its effectiveness.
8. Plant Containers
By simply using your recycled soda bottle as a plant container instead of purchasing one, you can definitely reduce your costs. However, do ensure that you make some changes to it so that it has the same drainage holes and opaqueness that proper gardening pots offer. Poke some holes at the bottom of your bottles to allow excess water to drain out, and paint your bottles with black paint to prevent algae growth. While they may look a lot less classy and chic than your traditional pots, they’ll certainly work as well at a lower cost.
With so many ways in which you can upcycle your used bottles and incorporate them into your own indoor gardening methods, why would you want to throw away your bottles and contribute to plastic waste? It is now time to actively save your bottles from going into the bins and start growing your own mini garden today!