Intro: Tomato Grower in a Gatorade Bottle
Have you ever seen the upside down tomato growers on late night TV?
Yeah, you have to admit, it's pretty ridiculous how they can charge someone for that. Why not make your own from your recyclables??
It's very simple, and it cost me nothing to make it. All I really needed to buy was a tomato plant.
If you're going for something simple and easy to do to get nice, plump tomatoes, I'd recommend this project. If you're not really for the aesthetics, you can skip some steps.
Step 1: Gather Materials
It's in all our blood: Our ancestors used to do this...
Gather...Not so much the hunting today, but getting your materials/tools is very useful.
- X-Acto knife
- Metal Snips or Scissors
- Electrical or Duct Tape
- Empty & Cleaned Gatorade Bottle (32 Oz or larger) or Milk Jug
- Metal Clothes Hanger
- Plastic Bags (Preferably not white or black)
- Glue (Rubber Cement was used in this case because it was on hand)
Step 2: Mark & Cut
Next, using a marker, mark about a half inch to an inch from the bottom of the bottle.
Then, cut along the line with the X-Acto knife or Scissors.
The result should look like so:
Step 3: Deburring the Edges (Optional)
Now, at this point you'll probably notice that the edge that you cut is pretty sharp and it isn't nice to get your fingers caught on here.
You have 2-3 Options:
1) Use your lighter and gently bring the bottom of the bottle through the flame so that you can gently melt the sides to a duller edge.
2) Use the Duct/Electrical tape to tape the edges down.
3) After (1), do (2)...Which is the method that is done here.
Step 4: Applying the Protective Layers
Now, you have to have wrap the bottle in a material, especially since it is clear. Otherwise, when the sun's rays hits the bottle, there's a good chance it can damage the roots and heat up the soil more quickly than usual which does a heck of a lot of damage.
Take the electrical/duct tape and tape the entire bottle up, seen below.
Take the plastic bags and flatten them. Now, fold them into quarters and, in between the layers, spread some glue and make sure it's sealed.
Step 5: Applying the Final Layer
Take the plastic bag and wrap it around the bottle.
Use the duct tape to form 2 loops with the sticky side out, and place about 1 inch apart with respect to each other, & 1inch from the bottom of the bottle. Stick one end of the bag onto the pieces of tape and begin to wrap it around the bottle. At the end of the bag, you can seal it with another piece of tape on the outside or you can use another 2 loops of tape to stick to the underside of the plastic layer.
Repeat this for the other half of the bottle.
1: Top layer completed
2: Starting bottom layer
3: Finished covering
Step 6: Hanging the Grower
Now that the soil and root system are protected from the sunlight, take the x-acto knife and cut 2 slits into original bottom of the bottle about 1 inch from the top, 1 inch long each. The cuts should be on opposite sides of the bottle.
The long, straight part of the hanger should be cut by the scissors or metal snips. Bend the straight piece appropriately to accommodate the bottle. Afterwards, use the pliers to make a small "L"-shaped hook to insert into the slits. The L's should be about 0.5" from each end.
Insert each end into the slits, and curl up to lock the metal hanger in place.
Step 7: Planting
The last step is to insert the plant. The plant must be already germinated and ready to go.
Ideally, you want to place the plant through the small opening of the bottle. Keep the bottle upside down, with the mouth opening towards the ground. Place the plant through the opening, with the original soil. I've found it to be easy to place the plastic pot of the plant into the large bottle opening, and then pull out the pot
Then, put more soil into the big opening of the bottle, on top of the root system of the plant.
Remember to hang it outside so that you can get some good results and enjoy!