BOTTLE GARDENS – PERMACULTURE
Staying Green : Growing Plants in PET Bottles.
Synopsis : In 2010, Yishun Sapphire Condominium, Singapore won a silver award from National Parks for our innovative Square Foot Gardening plot which “saves water, space and increases diversity of plants in just one square metre”. However, each square foot garden plot requires ground to sit on.
Realising that since most Singaporeans live in high-risers, our resident gardener, Ben Thum, came up with his own version of another innovative solution – growing plants in recycled 1.5 litre Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles. This uses even less space, water and “soil” (we use only top quality compost) And you can grow plants right in your high-rise apartment, on your balcony or in your garden.
Ben Thum developed his idea from a simple ‘soil-in-a-bottle’ method to the current ‘self-watering’ version after seeing some high-tech, high-rise farming techniques and simplifying the idea. It was important to conserve water, as in Singapore we have so little of our own, and to make an inexpensive system.
Q: What’s cheaper than a throw-away PET bottle?
A: Not a lot.
Ben came up with a solution that requires the bottle to be cut into half; one half is for the compost and the other is a water ‘bowl’; he added a straw for easy watering. Here are the steps:
NOTE: covering the bottle with the wrapper from an old chips packet or similar will stop algae growing and taking up the oxygen your roots need.
Don’t forget – tall plants at the top – mid growers in the middle and creepers like beans on the bottom.
I have tall plants like Cockscomb, Amaranth and Kenaf on top. The mid racks include Aloe Vera, Chia, King Of Bitters & various other herbs.
For the bottom rack, I have Kangkong, Yam Bean and Hyacinth Bean. They all grow rather fast and have flowered and borne fruits. In fact, my Kang Kong has grown so wildly that it has spanned more than 8 metres and have lots of flowers blooming.
I am really excited to be able to grow so many plants using recycled PET Bottles…with a minimum of soil and water. It also takes much less effort than traditional gardening using containers or growing on the ground. I have taught this method to many others and they have indeed succeeded. If you are interested in finding out more, when you are in Singapore, visit my ground floor apartment. It’s the one facing the pool with the friendliest dog – Cookie!
Mike’s note: I have been out on several occasions with Ben teaching this method & SFG to ordinary folks who have never ‘dug dirt’ in their lives. There is always a great responce to this and SFG (Square Foot Gardening) I am waiting for photos to come back to share with you. Why not start a project off in your school or community and share it on this site? It’s a very relaxing, sharing and productive hobby that you can eat the end product (and cheap!)
Thanks Ben : )
Q: why are millions starving around the world when a method as simple as this could be taught to householders in villages to add to food security?
A: I have no idea!
Note: see composting section for making compost from simple leaves and kitchen scraps.
AND HERE’S ANOTHER METHOD
I loved this hanging bottle garden!
DO THINK LOTS OF OTHER PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BOTTLE GARDENS? DO YOU THINK IT WOULD IT WOULD HELP COMMUNITIES BOTH RICH AND POOR? WANT TO SPREAD THE WORD?
Please share this website: By doing so you could help communities, improve the lives of many and perhaps even save a child’s life.
SHARING COMMON VALUES THROUGH SIMPLE IDEAS