So, you enjoy tomatoes, but don't have a backyard or enough money to buy tomatoes all the time. Fear not! I have your solution, today I'm going to teach you how to build your very own indoor window tomato garden.
Step 1: Gathering Materials
Below is a comprehensive list of everything needed to complete this project.
1). Two 2qt tea bottles
3). Plastic tote (5"x11") found at any big box store
4). Sharp pair of scissors
5). Drill with a 1 1/2 diameter bit for cutting wood or pvc
6). Eye bolts (size is up to you)
7). Box cutter
8). 1/8 diameter drill bit
Please note, while you may in fact use any plastic bottle, the tea bottles listed are by far the most rigid I have come by, and for this particular set up I highly recommend using a very rigid bottle.
Step 2: Prepping the Bottles
The first step here is to remove the labels on the bottles, a quick and gentle swipe with the box cutter will make quick work of this. Now is a good time to rinse any residue out of the bottle.
After removing the label turn the bottle up and carefully cut away the top ring. Be careful not to cut yourself, make sure your hands, fingers, and loved ones are away from the blades trajectory path.
Step 3: Cutting
With the label and ring off turn the bottle upside down, trace a line along the bottom of your bottle with your sharpie. You can use a piece of cardboard or anything with a strait edge.
With our line drawn now we make a small incision into the bottle. With care gently push on your box cutter until it cuts into the bottle. Make sure your incision is large enough to insert your scissors through.
Insert your scissors into the incision and cut out the bottom of the bottle. If you're using the bottles I use in the picture cutting will take a bit longer due to the thick gauge of the plastic.
Once completed your bottles should look like the last picture.
Step 4: Measure Once Cut Twice...wait What?
Lay your bottle upside down on top of the plastic tote cover. Using a piece of cardboard or equivalent, push the bottle against the cardboard. This will line the bottle up to the edge of the tote. Hold the bottle in place, with a sharpie trace around the opening. Once you finish tracing roughly find the center of the circle (does not have to be exact). Draw a small dot in the center. This will be the site of our pilot holes. Repeat the process for the opposite side.
Step 5: Pilot Holes
Once you have marked your center point, take your 1/8 bit and drill. This will serve as our pilot hole. Next up take your 1 1/2 bit and drill through. Repeat the process for the opposite side.
Now take your 1/8 bit and drill a hole through the center of you bottle cap.
Step 6: Elbow Grease and a Press Fit
With the holes drill through you tote cover insert the bottle mouth end through the hole. This part is tricky. The hole is slightly smaller than the mouth of the bottle, this is done on purpose to add rigidity to our build. With a bit of force and patience slip the mouth of the bottle through the hole.
Once through secure the bottle to the cap. Your end result should resemble the last picture.
Please note, if you're having a tough time fitting the bottle through the hole you can try a larger bit or heating the hole up slightly.
Step 7: Functionality
With the bottles secured to the cover place your cover on the tote and lock it in. The cover stays fixed to the bottles while the tote is free. There are two reasons for this design,
1). Watering automation can easily be added, the tote below acts as a reservoir collecting waste water, a small fountain pump fixed toward the bottom of the tote could recirculate water back to the plant. Swapping out soil for a soiless media and you could retrofit the system to a hydroponics system with relative ease.
2). In terms of functionality the tote below will allow you to recycle waste water and check nutrients/PH of your soil.
Step 8: Building Your Trellis
Using a tape measure, measure our equal lengths on each side of your window. This will serve as our hoisting points for our trellis. About 3-4 per side should suffice.
Take your eyebolts and screw them into the frame. If your house is block you will need anchors and a concrete bit. If your house is wood a drill bit will suffice to make your pillow hole.
With your eyebolts in place thread, wire or fishing line through the eyes. Keep a good tension on them as you tighten your line.
Now that the lines are tight and in place, you can introduce your tomato. The lines will help keep the tomato up from toppling over once it begins to fruit.
Step 9: Plant Some Tomatoes Already!
Varieties that have worked well for me in the past are, black cherrys, and super sweet 100. Both can be found in any big box store as they are very common cultivars.
Now you might be tempted to go with a large tomato variety, larger tomatoes can be a pain to keep after. They tend to put on considerably more vegetation then cherry varieties. You have been warned!
If you've enjoyed this instructable, share it with your friends. Sustainable agriculture starts with you!
-Happy growing :)