In this instructable I'll try to show you how to build a planting tower out of 1 meter of PVC pipe. The planting tower can be used (based on the diameter) for strawberries, lettuce, (bigger pipes) pansies and other small summer flowers (smaller diameters)
I made a couple of them already and the minimum diameter is 125mm otherwise there is not much room for soil anymore.
- 1 meter pipe min. 125mm diameter
- 1 pc endcap for your tower
- Optional a irrigation pipe (32-50mm depending on your tower)
- A plastic cap to plug the irrigation pipe
- An old T-shirt or old piece of long cloth
- Steel wire
- A small strip of (waste) cardboard
- Some small screws
- Ball point
- (Foldable) Ruler
- Plumb line
- Heat Gun
- Garden gloves (with leather patches)
- Multi tool
Ready to get started?
Step 1: Preparing Your PVC Tube (I)
First you determine the 4 sides of your PVC tube. This can be easily done by calculation Pi * outer diameter / 4. In my case the outer diameter is 200mm
3,14159 * 200 / 4 = 157,07mm or 15,7 Cm.
Now you take your scrap piece of cardboard and cut out a piece of 15,7cm long and mark the center of this piece of cardboard. (You are going to use this piece of cardboard later)
Put a random mark on top of the pipe and use the cardboard strip to put the next mark 15,7cm further and than the next and the next. You should be ending at approx your first mark. Mark one line as "Front" and two marks as "Side" the back isn't used.
Use a plumb line or something similar to copy the marks to the other side of the pipe.
Step 2: Set Out Your Grid
The next step is to set out your grid.
Take the foldable ruler and place over the two adjecent lines and fix it with a clamp.
Start with the "Front"
Place your first mark at 20cm from the top, the 2nd, 3rd, 4rth and 5th 15cm apart
Then do both the sides
Place your first mark at 27cm from the top the 2nd, 3rd, 4rth and 5th 15cm apart
Step 3: Draw Your Cutting Lines
Next thing you do is take your piece of scrap cardboard and place the center of the cardboard on the marking and draw a (more or less) straight line. When all the lines @ front and both sides are drawn the pipe should look a bit like on the pictures. As you can see on the pictures the lines are staggered. This is needed to keep the structural integrity of the pipe, along with the non used backside
Step 4: Cutting Your Pipe
Take your multi tool / saw and cut along the staggered lines you have drawn in the previous steps and you should have 15 (clean) cuts after that
Step 5: Moulding the Pockets
Now the real hard work starts.
Take your heat gun, gloves and make sure you are in a well ventilated area, preferrably outside.
With the heat gun (in nuclear mode) start heating up the upper side of the cut, make sure you're heating up evenly over the full cut approx 5-7 cm above the cut. after a minute or 2 you should be able to push in the the PVC about 2-3 cm (as you like). PVC has a memory function so keep the PVC pushed in for a while until it gets solid. (WARNING!! ITS HOT!)
Now you heat up the lower part of the cut. This part (also 5-7 cm in height) should get a little more hot than the upper part as you have to pull there to create a cup. Once the PVC is hot enough gently start pulling and moulding with your fingers to create a cup. Don't pull too hard, otherwise the PVC might tear up a little at the ends of the cut. Also here keep on working the cup until the PVC gets solid again. (WARNING!! ITS HOT!)
If all goes well the pipe has undergone a transformation and has now 15 pockets
Step 6: Preparing Your Irrigation Pipe (optional)
The irrigation pipe is mainly intended to get water and (fluid) fertilizer to the lower plants.
The process is pretty straight forward .
Take the 1 mtr irrigation pipe. (For 125mm tower use 32 or max 40mm pipe, I used 50mm for my 200mm pipe) and drill holes (8mm) on 3 sides (not the backside) every 7 cm (start approx 30cm from top) and deburr them a little with a small screwdriver .
Then wrap the pipe with the old cloth / t-shirt around the irrigation pipe (single layer) and fix it with some steel wire. The cloth is only intended to prevent soil and plant root ingress into the irrigation pipe. Plug the bottom of the pipe and insert it into the tower.
Step 7: Finishing and Filling Your Tower
No your tower is close to finishing. The only things left to is preparing the cap and fill it up with soil.
Drill to hole in the bottom of the cap for de watering and place the cap on the pipe. now drill 2 or 4 holes 3mm in the side of the cap through the pipe and fix it with little screws. This makes it easier to empty the tower from two sides if you are done with growing.
Fill up your tower with soil and plant and put it somewhere you like.
Optionally you can drill a hole in the back (this is where the unused back marking comes in handy) and hang it on a wall (use a sturdy hook) or drill 2 holes on the side, fit to S hooks and a chain and hang it on your porch.
In case it it free hanging you might consider cutting up the rearside as well with the same pattern as the front. I haven't tried this so don't know how it will affect the structural integrity of the tower.
This is it. you have your own plant tower. Good luck with it and if you found any other variant or way of working please share it with our community. And if you're proud to show your own tower please do it!!
Step 8: Alternative Way of Watering (dripping)
At second thought... (or actually later) I thought it would be nice to add an extra method of watering... (more eco friendly as water is a scarce resource)
It's pretty easy. You take a plastic bottle, dril a hole in the bottom approx 6mm. Fill it up with water (keep your finger on the hole) and firmly push the spout in the soil and let it sit until it is empty.
It will take a couple of hours but the water is than more effectively distributed through the soil as it slowly drips in.
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