Introduction: Self Watering Vertical Garden With Recycled Water Bottles
Here how i made my vertical vegetable garden, starting from used big water bottles as planters. An automatic watering system keep the right moisture, collecting water in excess, using power from pv panels and a little wind turbine (vawt)
Step 1: 3d Project
The green wall is composed by 72 water bottles cut and placed upside-down on a wooden shelf.
Two independent water reservoir are present: the main is placed on the side of the building and composed by eight 200 liters barrels linked together, for collecting rain water. The second one is composed by three plastic "new jersey" street barriers, that can contain 80 - 100 liters each, placed under the shelf.
The circulating system is composed by two 12v pumps, powered by a hybrid power system, a vawt turbine in conjunction with two 10w pv panels.
Energy is stored in a 12v car battery via charge controller and a timer regulate the watering cycle (at this moment the set up is 1 min at 7 am and 1 minute at 7 pm.
Water is pumped from second reservoir to the top of the shelf, into a PVC pipe ( Dia 4 cm) where i drilled eighteen 3 mm holes (one for each planter of the first row). After moisten the first row, water goes down to the rows below until go back to the starting tank.
With hand activated valve i can refill the second reservoir with rain water from blue barrels.
Step 2: Planter Design
Last year I obtained from my friend Ricky a hundred of 18l PET bottles round and square shaped, ideal for my project.
The prototype of planter was a cut bottle filled with 1/3 of expanded clay and 2/3 of soil. To prevent the mixing of the clay, i decided to use felt bags sew from a mat bought on the internet. This solution create an air gap between the internal wall of the bottle and the soil, adding some aeration to the system. This bag are reusable and permit to remix the soil after harvest.
To obtain a little reserve or water in the planter i used a piece of pvc pipe ( 4 cm dia) sealed inside the bottle neck with rubber bands, but after some try i discover a better way to do the job, using the plastic cap of the bottle and a piece of hose.
To protect the PET bottle and roots from direct sun, i cut a juta net, found on ebay for few euros. This natural material give the bottle a rural/vintage look. To hold the mat i used a juta cord.
Step 3: Frame
The shelf is build in cheap pine wood, 12 plank 200x35x5 cm and 4 timbers 10x10 cm, 300 height.
Step 4: Watering System
two cheap 12vdc pumps are set to lift water from the "new jersey" one minute at 7 am e one at 7 pm, enough to keep the right moisture of the planters.