DIY Vertical Window Garden

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About: Valencia Horticulture graduate, master tinker of all things, and madd scientist.

Intro: DIY Vertical Window Garden

Love gardening or just curious about it? Want to grow your own food but don't think you have the space?

Well chances are you do have the space, you just need to think vertically. Grab a drill and some empty soda bottles because I'm going to show you how to build your very own vertical window garden.



ABOUT ME;

I am a graduate from the Valencia Horticulture program, prior to that I welded and served as a mechanic for many years. My keen sense for tinkering and love for plants drives me to build sustainable, and affordable constructs that the everyday person can benefit from.

Welcome to the guide enjoy
-Jonathan

Step 1: Choose Your Location

When choosing a location for your vertical garden you must take into consideration a couple of factors. The most important being sunlight, the amount of sunlight coming through the average window is about 10-20% filtered. This puts our little photosynthetic solar panels (leaves) at a disadvantage from the start. Ensure that you have an East or West facing window that can receive adequate sunlight.

Other variables to consider are, keeping it out of reach from animals and children. Although these fixtures are sturdy, they by no means are baby or puppy proof.

Once your area has been selected now we may begin gathering our materials.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

Here is a comprehensive list of everything required to complete this project.

1). Empty 2L bottles
2). 1/8 drill bit
3). 1 1/8 drill bit
4). Box cutter
5). Power drill
6). Fine scissors
7). Mounting brackets (optional)
8). Piece of cardboard.

Step 3: Laying the Ground Work

The piece of cardboard, or material that you choose should be flexible, and thick enough to trace an outline around it.

Place your cardboard over the empty 2L bottle, with your opposite hand trace around the piece. Once completed your bottle should look like the second picture.

Please note that the size of the opening is totally up to you, with respect to the rigidity of the bottles themselves, as cutting a large hole will compromise the integrity of the bottle.

Step 4: Getting Some Air

After laying out the area that you will be cutting take your box cutter and cut an "X" into the center of your outline. The "X" will allow you to slide a sharp pair of scissors into the hole and cut your square out neatly and uniformly.

With caution cut to the farthest edge of your square. Repeat for all four sides. Gently pull back on the plastic and complete your cut across. In the end you should be left with a clean and uniform opening on your 2L bottle.

Repeat for the opposite side. Please take caution if you decide to use a box cutter for this step, remember to cut away from your body and, keep hands free and clear from the trajectory path of the blade.

Step 5: Making Holes

Using a 1/8 drill bit make a small pilot hole at the bottom of your 2L bottle, this will make inserting the tip of the 1 1/8 bit into the bottle much easier. Using your drill insert your 1 1/8 bit into your pilot hole, slowly drill until the tip catches. Stop, back the drill off slightly and then put it in gear and drill out your hole. Your end product should reflect the first picture.

Once your bottom hole is drilled take your bottle cap and 1/8 bit, drill a small hole through the center of the cap. This will allow the water to drain from chamber to chamber via gravity.

Please note when using the 1 1/8 bit, this bit is made for drilling holes in wood not plastic bottles. Keep a tight grip on the bottle and use common sense if it looks unsafe then it probably is.

Step 6: The Hardest Part Is Behind Us Now

From here on the project gets easier. After drilling your holes on the bottom of your 2L bottle, slide your second bottle (bottle cap side first) through the hole you just drilled. See picture.

Now take the pre-drilled bottle cap and screw it on the bottle securing them to one another. This acts as a bulk-head and keeps the bottles locked in place. The third picture is what your final assembly should look like.

Please note, after drilling the bottom hole, sometimes some plastic residue may stay near the opening and will not allow the bottle to pass through. A nail file or pliers can clean up the opening to allow passage.

Step 7: A Little Support

This part is optional and adds a level of rigidity to your build, take your 1/8 bit and drill two smalls holes on the top bottles, this will serve as your hoisting point.

You can pick up some mounting brackets similar to the ones I used at any big box store. The brackets here came from a mounting kit designed to mount flourecent light fixtures.

I used annealed aluminum wire to anchor my vertical garden to the bracket, but in reality you can use anything. Fishing line is also a great alternative, though I wouldn't go with anything under 40lb test line.

Step 8: Catch Can

This is also another optional step, using a tea-bottle mounted at the very bottom of your garden, take your 1/8 bit and drill two small holes in it. This will allow air to be displaced as the water trickles downward.

There are three main reasons why this is a great idea and I recommend it.

1). You can accurately check the PH of your soil and nutrient content from the water leeched into the bottle.

2). You reduce waste water and can reuse it until it becomes over saturated with salts.

3). It adds a base to your garden and makes it more rigid.

Step 9: Enjoy Your Creation and Spread the Word!

Now that you are growing your own food take sometime out and talk about it with friends and neighbors. Sustainable agriculture starts with you, and who says you need expensive grow kits and fancy equipment to grow your own food.

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31 Discussions

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russmanna2023

5 months ago on Step 8

Wow! what a great idea! I've been wanting to start an indoor garden but I don't really have the space or a big budget when it comes to supplies so this would work perfectly for me! I'll be sure to try it out!

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Modica63

1 year ago

great Eco idea

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MichiganDave

1 year ago

I am impressed by this, and now I have to figure out if I have the space to do this. Also there are two questions I have that are raised by the comments so far: you bring up the science about the light plants use to grow. I am interested in your thoughts about using colored glass between the source of the sunlight to make the plants grow better. So: would red or blue glass, or plastic, help? The other question is about reflection of sunlight to further aid the plants growth. If I added a shiny reflective sheet of plastic would that bounce additional light enough to assist? I am thinking of using some potato chip bags as the inside of the bag is flexible, shiny, and free. I have seen where folks are successful in making a solar cooker using these bags like this.

An excellent 'ible, and a BIG thanks for sharing.

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DemosouthpawMichiganDave

Reply 1 year ago

Hello Mr. Dave

thanks for your compliments, now I am going to attempt to answer your question in my highest capacity.

1). My thoughts on colored glass, and if red or blue would effect overall growth.

Well great question, photosynthesis is the process of the plant converting sunlight along with CO2 into food or energy for itself. A photon of light exitates a chlorophyll pigment. There are a few different kinds of chlorophyll, and despite of what most people think they are not all green. Take carotenoids they are responsible for the color given to carrots and tomato's, asides from nutritional value they also help absorb sunlight. With that being said I personally believe filtering light WILL NOT help the plant in any way. Plants are evolved to absorb the light that they require via chlorophyll. Changing the light spectrums that they receive will limit your yields and can even effect the quality of your plant.

2). Reflective material to capture more light.

Yes! and double yes! As long as you don't cook then alive haha. Maximizing reflective light will ensure that it is not absorbed by your rug or whatever else the light passes through. If you notice most if not all grow light will have a reflective cover under the lights to maximize light. Aluminum foil works wonders.

To sum it up, personally I don't think at this level light should be filtered ex; red, blue spectrum. Plants have evolved clever ways to deal with absorbing the spectrums that work for them. Heck yes on the reflective tape, or paper just careful not to bake them.


Hope this helps!

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mtlaw55

1 year ago

I haven't made it yet but I'm really excited about this project. One of the best I've seen in a long time. Brilliant, attractive and inexpensive. Thanks.

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Demosouthpawmtlaw55

Reply 1 year ago

Thank you for your kind words, I'm finishing up my potato build soon. It's along the lines of the same concept

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diy_blokeDemosouthpaw

Reply 1 year ago

potatoes. Inside?
Hmm that would be an idea. I love fresh potatoes

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JohnH446

1 year ago

One problem with this system: Water-sharing. If you have rare and expensive plants you don't want water from one going to the source for another plant. Problems like Fusarium Wilt can spread right down the line. Even sitting in a community humidity pan can be a threat.

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DemosouthpawJohnH446

Reply 1 year ago

Hello,

I can see why you would say that, of course two factors are at play here, regardless of were your plant is located (inside or out) if Fusarium is present the fungi will spread via spores, this can be transported by wind, splashing of water, dirty tools, ect. F spp. tends to overwinter in soils and can survive in plant debris or tools almost indefinitely.

As you might know F spp. effects many vegetables and flowering plants, with that being said, a major part of gardening, and actually being successful at it, is implementing good cultural practices. Proper pruning, cleaning, and managing plant debris WILL prevent most plant pathogens.

Also making sure you buy seeds, plugs, and soils from reputable dealers will also limit disease incidence.

Thanks for your comment I hope this cleared up some of the misconceptions you had about Fusarium and this particular system.

-Happy growing mate!

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diy_blokeDemosouthpaw

Reply 1 year ago

Have done similar watersharing systems, inside and outside. Fortunately never had any fusarium or other problem that was caused by the watersharing.

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mpulliam1

1 year ago

Going to start my 2L bottle collection asap! As a guy that uses EVERYTHING as planters in my "pot garden" (pot garden = cans, cups, boots, planters pots, etc etc) this is a no brainer. This will be perfect in our South facing bedroom with a 6 foot bay window.

Have you toyed with colors of plastic? Green vr Clear?

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Demosouthpawmpulliam1

Reply 1 year ago

My original window garden was made with sprite bottles, and those bottles are green. As for light spectrum and stuff, plants absorb red and blue, and reflect green. Hence the green we see off of their leaves.

Personally I like the color green so the sprite bottles are my favorite.

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Scott1965

1 year ago

If you used the same bottle for your top growing bottle and you use a full bottle with a 1 mm hole in the bottom, above of that, you can have it water for several hours. If you then use a solution of 1 part worm juice to 20 parts water it will act like a hydroponics setup and should help your yields. I had several of these growing basil, thyme, cherry tomatoes and other bits and pieces.

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DemosouthpawScott1965

Reply 1 year ago

Interesting, interesting. I like the idea of making a reservoir if I had the space I probably would have gone that route. As for the worm tea, I'm a big inorganic guy lol. usually organics require an input to be made into a plant Soluble form, growing indoors limit the effectiveness of organics. NH4+ for the win lol.

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UdonDemosouthpaw

Reply 1 year ago

What would you use for plant fertilizer?

Let's say, brand and language non-specific, what would you look for when walking into a plant shop?

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DemosouthpawUdon

Reply 1 year ago

Hey Udon,

For fertilizer it again depends on the type of plant you're growing. For example tomatoes will require more phosphorus and potassium, along with others such as iron, boron, manganese ect. That's not to say you absolutely need need to fertilize your plants. But fertilizing does increase quality of your yields.

For fruiting varieties I recommend a 10-10-10, usually they come in a water soluble powder and have other nutrients such as iron and magnesium.

Again I've grown fruit and herbs and never fertilized, the nutrients in the soil are enough to push it through, provided you have some decent potting soil.

Hope this helps

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Scott1965Demosouthpaw

Reply 1 year ago

for those that prefer to use store bought fertiliser, you could use a water + liquid fertiliser of your choice

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Udon

1 year ago

I really, really dig this.

I've been messing with using plastic bottles since I was living in Beijing in my tiny apartment, then again in Korea in a slightly larger tiny apartment, but it was never the most elegant solution.

This is elegant.

No hot-snot, tape, glue, no wire really.

Thank you!

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DemosouthpawUdon

Reply 1 year ago

You're welcome I'm glad you like it!