Introduction: Herb Rack From Plastic Bottles

Picture of Herb Rack From Plastic Bottles

I wanted to have my own fresh herbs, but didn't want them to take up too much space on my balcony. I also had a bunch of empty plastic bottles, so I decided to make a herb rack for hanging on the wall that uses the bottles as pots. This project is very easy to make, it took me about 1.5 hours from start to finished product (without putting ground and seeds in, as the paint needs to dry before doing that.

All what's needed for this project is:

  • 7 empty bottles (this can be more or less, according to your wishes)
  • 14 screws, about 2cm long (2 for each bottle)
  • 1 wooden board
  • paint (optional)

Warning: some types of plastic can give off toxins that can end op in the herbs. Only use bottles that were used for packaging beverages, so you know they are food-safe. I used milk bottles made from HDPE (they have a recycle icon with code 02), that, for as far as I know, is not known to release hazardous chemicals. Another advantage of using HDPE is that it's opaque, so you won't see the ground through the bottle. Often plant pots are also made from HDPE. It might be advisable to avoid using PET bottles (recycle code 01) as they are suspected to release cancerogens over time. On the other hand, the amount of chemicals received through the consumation of these herbs would most likely be much smaller than than the amount already ingested by drinking from PET bottles.

Step 1: Preparing the Board

Picture of Preparing the Board

I had some leftover wooden board 25cm wide and 2.5cm thick. I cut off a piece of 110cm.

In the top corners, about 3cm from the edges I drilled two holes (5mm) to be able to hang the board on the wall.

I chose to keep the finishing rough, so I only lightly sanded it with a vibrational sander, until there were no more splinters sticking out. The finish could also be very rough, or completely smooth, to your liking.

Step 2: Painting the Board

Picture of Painting the Board

I had some leftover yellow paint from a previous project, so I used that. I gave the back side of the board one coat of paint, just to protect it, it will not be in sight. The front side and edges received two coats of paint. Although I'm patient while working on something, I really dislike waiting for the paint to dry, so I used a hot air paint stripper to speed up that process. The trick is to heat up the paint and stop heating it just before it starts getting bubbles. After using the hot air gun a couple of times, I used some wiping paper to further "dry" the paint, so I could immediately procees with the next step, without waiting.

Step 3: Making Pots From Bottles

Picture of Making Pots From Bottles

The bottles I used are made of a fairly soft kind of plastic, so it was easy to cut them with a kitchen knife. They also have horizontal lines on them, which makes it easy to cut them all straight and at the same size. Most bottles have those lines, so I would recommend to use that kind. My herb rack will be hanging under the roof protected from rain, so I didn't make any holes in the bottoms of the pots. If your rack is hanging in the open, it would be advisable to make at least one small hole in the bottom of each pot in order to drain exess water. If the edge of the pots is sharp, you can blunt them with sandpaper.

Step 4: Attaching the Pots to the Board

Picture of Attaching the Pots to the Board

Each pot is attached to the board using two screws. The screws go through the inside of the pots into the wood. I put them about 2.5cm from the upper edge of the pots, so they will be hidden by ground when filled. I used aluminum screws to be sure they won't rust, but I think ordinary screws will also work fine. The pots are evenly distributed in two rows. The distance between the pots depends on the size and amount of pots and the size of the board. You could use a little bit of math to evenly distrubute them, or just eyeball it.

Step 5: Fill It Up

Picture of Fill It Up

The next step is filling up the pots with ground, seeding and watering. I guess this step doesn't need a lot of explanation. Just fill up the pots with ground to about 1.5 cm under the edge, put in seeds and add another 0.5 cm of ground. As you can see on the picture I had some help :). In the end give some water.

Step 6: Hanging It on the Wall

Picture of Hanging It on the Wall

As my house is from the 1930's, the walls are in a pretty bad shape. When I drill a hole with a diameter of 8mm, I usually end up with a hole of 2cm, so I decided to hang the rack on some already existing hooks using strings. When I did that I found out that the rack would wave too much in the wind, so I decided to add one screw in the middle of the board to fix it to the wall. And of course I ended up with a very large hole in which no plug would fit. As this is not the first time this happens, I already have a way to fix this. Just mix some gypsum powder with water and fill the hole with it. After that push the plug in. The gypsum will set very quickly, leaving a firmly attached plug.

Step 7: Wait for It to Grow

Now all is done the time of waiting has arrived. Regularly water the seeds and soon you'll have your own fresh herbs.

Comments

JGDean (author)2016-03-28

Remember that many types of plastics degrade under sunlight. Polypropylene and most vinyls, including PVC, become so brittle that they crumble with any application of force.

Better to use aluminum cans, such as beer or soda cans. Just watch out for sharp edges. They are stronger, last much longer, and don't give off any known toxins. (But wait, they will probably discover some in California.)

rutcorn (author)JGDean2016-03-28

Good idea to use aluminum cans. In order for them not to be sharp you could bend over the edge to the inside. I haven't tried this, but it should be possible. Or you could make a protective ring over the edged with sugru (or oogoo, there's an instructable about that: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-Your-Own-Sugru-Substitute/). I don't know how well that holds up against the sunlight.

I used HDPE which should be pretty resistant to sunlight, time will learn. Its best not to use PVC anyway, because it often contains toxic softeners and chlorine.

tjunior3 (author)2016-03-26

Cool idea. Be careful with the type of plastic bottle used. Many plastics break down over time, leeching trace toxins into the herbs, which may be unfortunate. This idea works great for flowers, but may not be best for consumed plants. Keep up the great ideas!

rutcorn (author)tjunior32016-03-26

Hi, thanks for the warning. I checked which type of plastic is used for the bottles and it's HDPE, which is also used for domestic water lines, so I think it should be safe.
I'll put a warning in the Instructable.
On the other hand, I think it would still be healthier to ingest a small amount of chemicals released by the plastic than the royal amount of various poisons used on commercial foods.

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2016-03-26

Great way to recycle.

Thanks! I'm trying to keep my contribution to the trash pile low :)

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