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Christine A Howard

Gardening With Garbage – And Not The Way You Think!

I have to admit that I do not have a green thumb. Even though I really love plants and love the idea of growing a big lush garden in my backyard, I don’t really have the skills necessary to have a large garden. That is why I am working with container gardening. It is so much more like growing house plants, just on a much more grand scale.

Did you know that you can easily grow some vegetables using your old garbage? You can! Soda bottle planters are a great way to garden while also reducing your garbage. Creating a soda bottle garden is really easy, eye catching, and inexpensive to do. Here is how you can do just that…

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Step One: Prepare the bottle

The first thing you will want to do is to prepare the bottle. Begin by removing both the label and the cap. These should be discarded, as you will not need them for the project. Then rinse clean the inside of the bottle. You do not need to use soap, but if you do choose to use dish soap, make sure to rinse out all residue. Otherwise you may kill your plants as they absorb the chemicals from the left over detergent.

STEP ONE:   Clean out a 2 liter soda bottle and remove both the cap and the label.  Soda bottle gardening
STEP ONE: Clean out a 2 liter soda bottle and remove both the cap and the label.

Step Two: Prepare The Water Reservior

When using a soda bottle to grow plants, you are actually gardening upside-down. Instead of the plants growing out of the top of the container as you would usually think, they grow out of the bottom of the container. This works well, as you can ensure that the water and nutrients are actually getting to the roots. Also, by having the roots on top, the sun can more easily warm the roots and help your plant deliver much more produce.

To begin the process, you will need to remove the bottom portion of the bottle. This will be used as the water reservior, to help water your plant more slowly over time. It is very important to make as straight a cut as possible. You may want to use painter’s tape to provide a line for reference. Most bottles have a line around the bottom of the bottle. This can also be used as a guide.

It is best to begin the cut with a sharp knife, and then finish with a scissors. The scissors is able to give a much cleaner, straighter line. When you have finished cutting, it should resemble a bowl. Replace the “bowl” back into the cut portion of the bottle so that both cut edges meet.

STEP TWO:  Prepare the water reservior.
STEP TWO: Prepare the water reservior.

Step Three: Add A Watering Hole

As with most vegetables that can grow well in a container, over watering can be a problem. That is why having a reservior when gardening can be quite helpful. The reservior will help keep just the right amount of water flowing to the plant roots. To ensure that your reservoir is working properly, you will need to add a small hole in the bottom. Make sure this hole is large enough to let water through, but small enough to do so slowly.

I recommend starting with the smallest drill bit you have, and slowly increasing the size of the hole as you test the speed. If you accidentally make the opening too large, you can slow the flow of water by adding some rocks to the bottom of the reservior.

STEP THREE:  Control the speed of the water reservoir.
STEP THREE: Control the speed of the water reservoir.

Step Four: Prepare The Planter For Hanging

Because the plants grow out of the bottom of the planter, you will need to hang your plants from a wire. To do this, you will need to drill holes in the top of the planter and add a dowel. This dowel should be about 1/2 inch in diameter so that it is strong enough to hold the plant without bending.

Because the soda bottles are typically clear, there is the chance that too much sunlight will hit your plant’s roots. To prevent this, you will need to cover the bottle with either duct tape or spray paint. I used spray paint for mine to give it a more finished look.

If you choose the spray paint option, you will need to make sure what you are using is made for plastic, or it will not stick. Also, make sure to cover just the outside, and leave the inside and the reservoir clear. Otherwise your plants might absorb the harsh chemicals and die.

STEP FOUR:  Prepare your planter for hanging.
STEP FOUR: Prepare your planter for hanging.

Step Five: Add Plants To Your Planter

The most challenging part of gardening with a soda bottle, is actually getting your plants inside. In order to do so, you will need to start from the inside of the bottle (with the reservior removed), and thread the leaves gently through the opening of the soda bottle. This will take a bit of time, so that you don’t damage the leaves or stem.

Once the plant is through the opening, you will want to add either a coffee filter or cheese cloth around the plant roots. This will ensure that the soil stays tightly around the roots as water filters through the bottle. Then add soil to fill the bottle and replace the reservior. Insert the dowel back through the holes in the planter and add a wire hanger.

STEP FIVE:  Add the plants to the planter and cover with soil.
STEP FIVE: Add the plants to the planter and cover with soil.

Step Six: Hang Your Completed Planter

You are now ready to hang your planter and beging gardening. Since most plants that enjoy growing in a soda bottle also need full sun, think about the sunniest places in your yard. This is where you will want to hang your plants. Clotheslines, fences, and shepard’s hooks make great places to hang your planter.

Now you can enjoy watching your plants grow! Even though you will never need to weed your plants, you will want to watch the health of your plants. Make sure they are getting the right amount of water and nutrients as they grow. You can even grow your plants indoors if you hang them in a window that gets plenty of sunlight.

STEP SIX:  Hang your planter in a place that will get lots of sun.
STEP SIX: Hang your planter in a place that will get lots of sun.

Make The Most Of It!

These cute and easy to make planters can really be made out of anything! Think about milk jugs, juice bottles, and even buckets! The best part is the whole family can get involved, and the process is fairly easy. The best plants to have growing in your planter are peppers, tomatoes, egg plant, cucumbers, squash, and bush beans.

If you would like to make this a bit more educational, you can test the theory that plants grow better upside down. Simply plant one plant in an upside-down planter, and plant one the regular way. Measure and observe each plant over time to find out which one grows better! Gardening experiments are so much fun in the summer, but since these are easy to grow indoors, the experiment can really be done any time of the year.

Gardening With Garbage - And Not The Way You Think!

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