Intro: Growing Tomatoes in Shiny Stuff (Jun 27, 2017 Update)
So, your crops look a little bit too "earthy" and you're slightly worrying that they'll never shoot that 60's Sci-Fi movie in your garden? Don't worry, because I'm here to help-you! Although I'm not guaranteeing something will actually grow from these space-bags because it's actually the first time I'm doing this, and I'm not the greatest gardener in history of not greatest gardeners. But I'll give my reasoning on why it should work (or not) and eventually provide the update with the results later. So, if you're more interested in having some tomatoes rather than rather than being mentioned in endtitles of "Alien Zombie Werewolves from Outer Space" take this project as a suggestion and be thoughtful about what are you doing.
First of all the materials. Over the last Year I've managed to collect some plastic bags from 2L wine packs like this one . Cartone boxes were used to make fuel packs about which you can read in my another instructable, and the plastic bags were left till I decided what I'm going to do with them. Despite having a couple of different ideas I decided to utilize those bags the way I'm showing here: as containers for growing plants (tomatoes in this particular case). These bags have rigid neck that is wide enough for a plant, and also can be coveniently used for hanging; the volume allows to put inside enough soil for a reasonably small plant; the material is pretty durable and reflective suface helps to keep the soil within from overheating by Sun. Although the plastic gives you a benefit of keeping water from evaporating too quickly reducing the amount of watering needed it also can cause a problem of roots not having enough air supply which can cause them rotting. I thing it can be fixed by poking a bunch of holes at the lower area of the bag.
But in order to use our bags we have to remove those dispensers-plugs-things. Usually the're just press fitted into the neck, so you can try to just unplug them. Although it may work well, mine were siiting there there pretty firmly so I used saw. But even with a saw you can save those taps for, maybe, future projects if you want to. One thing to considere is that you want to leave that one ridge that is closer to the body of the bag, because it helps to keep string we're going to use for tying the bag from slipping.
Now I'm cutting some string from a plastic bottle. I can't tell exactly how many bottles I used... a couple of 1,5L I guess. I left one bottle half-cut so it can be used later as a funnel for putting earth into bag. You can see it fits perfectly.
When the bags are ready it's time to prepare the post (ofcourse if a post is what you're going to use). I already have suitable wooden beam for the project so I'm determining the required spacing and hammering some nails into spots (35cm from top and so on on two opposite sitdes, and 17 cm from top and 35 between the bags on two others). There's already was a nail on the top.
When all nais are on their places you can install the post into place.
I decided to clean the bags a bit so I'm flushing them with water.
At this moments my intuition suggested to prefill cleaned bags with water before filling them with soil. And it was wright because it turned up that it's much easier this way than pouring a decent amount of water when the soil is alreadi in the bags.
Now it's time to fill the bags. I was lazy and didn't sieved the earth, but I recomend to do so because it makes the whole process much faster and easier (probably). Sometimes I had to use a stick to push bigger lumps through.
And also, obviously, this is where our funnel comes into action.
Try to fill the bags as full as posible. You have to have the soil surface right at the neck.
I'm using a plastic string to tie the bags. One single string was fealing too weak so I doubled it. You can see how it all works on the photos.
Here I'm adding more soil where it's lacking. In this particular case I'm using the sort tomatos purposed for growing in pots, which makes sence, and I'm growing them from seeds because this is what I'm familiar with. I'm putting a few seeds onto soil at the neck and filling the opening with some more earth.
Now the last thing to do is to add some water and wait (and, probably, keep adind some more regularily later).
So this is it: your Sci-Fi vertical tomato garden. As I've said it's an experiment for me and suggestion for you, and there's nothing yet I can tell about how succesfull this whole thing is or is going to be. I'll provide the update later, but now it's all. Thank you for your attention and imagine I wrote a funny joke here.
Step 10: They Grow! (03.06.2017 Update)
Say "hello" to vintage space tomatoes!
Step 11: The Highlander (Jun 7, 2017 Update)
So far everything is going ok. The sprouts have grown up and now its time to remove excessive ones leaving only one per bag. I gave them a new home to ghow on free patches of the garden.
Also one thing to mention. Probably it's a reasonable thing to grow seedlings first and than put them into the bags. The reason, I used seeds right away is because I positive xperience with growing tomatoes this way, so it was the first thing that came ono my mind.
Step 12: (Jun 27, 2017 Update)
They keep growing fine.
I had to replace the top right one.
The ones turned to the fence are notacibly lacking light and starting to stretching out, but there's nothing I can do abot it. Although it makes me realize another one benefit of using bags from reflective material: they reflect some light back to the plant; it's not quiet enough in my case but I believe it helps a little.
Step 13: 01.08.2017 Update
You may not know, but in narrow circles of vegetation I'm well known as Waldemar the Neglector. If you don't believe, you can ask my nefrolepises, but you'll probably gonna need a ouija board of some sort and a couple of different instructables. But times change and once for a while Waldemar the Neglector turns into Waldemar Finally Doing Something.
To be onest, space tomatoes aren't looking very well. I can't tell exactly either it because I wasn't watering them reguralilly or the other way around, because the roots were lacking air accesing them. One thing I'm ceratin of is that the placement of the whole thing is not optimal (and this is where I'm making notes for next year Space Tomatoes MK2 project). Some plants were exposed to the sun too much while others were lacking it. The other problem is watering. The bag with the plant or rather the free space thet left in a bag isn't capable of accomodating of enough water. What I want to say is that when watering (with watering can) I was able to pour just a little bit of water before it started to go over the edge. At this circumstances you have water the plants a few times a day, which is not an option for the Waldemar the Neglector. So i'm thinking of implementing some sort of atomated watering system with tubes and wicks in the future.
And the reason why I'm thinking of making improvements is despite the sad looking tomatoes the whole thing is seams to be working. You can even see some baby tomatos growing on the photos and it's not a photoshop (not even Microsoft Paint). So yeah, stay tooned.