Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hydroponic Bottle Garden

Hydroponic Hanging Garden. Great method for growing veggies and herbs in a confined space, easy to look after, create a mini green house environment in any window.

Supplies needed. !
in this case i used 8 oz -600ml water bottles (preferably all the same)
Roof & gutter Silicon,  6 small squares of sponge, 
Vermiculite plant growing mix, Blind cord /sash rope,
lighter and knife, tape measure,
2 1/8 (64mm) Drill bit hole cutter, 1" drill bit,
1.5mm small drill bit, small pliers, Philips screw driver,
small 1.5mm stainless stele nut and bolt,
battery or electric drill.

To make your Hanging Hydroponic Garden collect your plastic water bottles preferably all the same size. Depending on how big your window is will decide what number of bottles to use, you will need 1 at top and 1 ant bottom for watering and what ever you can fit in between. mine has 7, 5 growing compartments
First fill up water bottle with water! and stick it in the freezer. 
TIP: leave room for water to expand when frozen and turn label to face up this is where air bubble will settle and is not a drilling side?  WHY? because drilling the holes is a lot easy with a frozen bottle, try it unfrozen and see what happens!!
Drill a hole with a 2" 1/4 bit on the lower side, also drill a 1" whole on base ( check size of bottle neck you have it may be bigger or smaller)
slide a card sleeve around lower part of bottle with hole and spray top half with matte black paint. ( this helps the roots to grow in the dark)
Finished painted bottle ( I will repeat this 5 times for my specific project you may do more or less depending on window size )
Take one bottle to create top feeder, drill frozen bottle with 2 1/4" bit at the bottom of bottle, also drill 4 small holes in bottom side to tie rope threw, i used blind sash rope and a metal ring, cut 2 pieces of equal length rope feed threw tie add ring and tie to opposite side, cut excess string and seal with lighter to secure knot, add a square of sponge in neck of bottle
get 2 lids and join together with silicon
once 2 lids are dry drill 1 hole in center and 6 round edges then use a small stainless steel nut and bolt to add extra strength
get as many lids as you have growing bottles and drill 2 small holes in center of caps, I used about 1.5mm drill
This bottle is your water collection chamber drill a small hole near top, this will allow air to escape as water drips in bottle (TIP: mark hole with marker pen so when you re-pour you don't spill the water )
Using a clear silicon ( I used drain and gutter silicon) place a bead around neck of bottle and twist it into the bottom of another bottle place a square of sponge in neck of bottle and place on the lid with 2 small holes. ( the sponge will slow the transfer of water from one bottle to another and act as a filter)
Once they are connected fill  vermiculite or similar to top of black area using a scoop, ( my scoop is made from a plastic bottle) 
this is how it should look ( mini version) top hanging bottle followed by grow bottles and last bottle has the double joined cap and the collection bottle, which allows you to reuse the feed water.
Use a good hydroponic food mix with water, (TIP: run fresh water threw a couple of times before seeding to cleanse and wet the vermiculite)
pour liquid food into top bottle about 1/3 full, this will slowly drip feed all through the other plant areas to bottom collection
water fills the bottom collection bottle, i normally reuse this about 2 times before using fresh mix
This is my first 4 hanging gardens with 5 growing bottles in each, first one has just been seeded with strawberries, 2nd run is top 2 chives and bottom 3 coriander / Cilantro, 3rd one is spinach and last one organic  mixed lettuce
spinach about 3 weeks  and lettuce about 5 weeks
coriander / spinach / lettuce

I have enjoyed this method of indoor growing and you can use it any where even move it with the sun, it is a perfect micro green house and as you can see maximize space for growing a healthy dinner, I will carry on filling up my conservatory with them and latter will join a 1 time water feed to do all of them at same time watch out for this post.


  1. Nice setup! I´ll give it a try.

    How long time does it take for the water to por down?

  2. This is great- so much simpler then the airlift models. I'm only unclear about how you've fastened the system to the window frame/ceiling? I follow you on the rope and the ring, but where is the ring hanging from? Thanks, this is awesome.

  3. If I try this setup I may modify how it stands/hangs. Perhaps zip tying it to a dowel rod and then attach it to a tension rod that I have vertically in the window (just so I don't have to drill any holes in the frame or ceiling). Probably wouldn't need to have holes in the sides of the top reservoir or the string. erna113 has a good question - How long does it take for the water to pour down?

  4. How have your plants fared with the bottoms of the bottles painted black? I am concerned that the black will absorb too much heat and fry the roots. Of course the continuous flow of water over them may prevent this from occurring. Still trying to source my supplies, but I really want to try this!

    1. instead of painting the bottom black if you're concerned, why not wrap it in aluminium foil that way the roots aren't exposed and the temperature stays constant?

  5. What an awesome idea. We use bottles in a different way but they still make great plants. I may have to try this in our greenhouse this summer to fill in those spaces where we have room left for plants.

  6. You have made hydroponic growing more easy with your innovative idea.And as Alex said,it is really simpler then the airlift models.

  7. Great post! Loved it so much that made a small version for myself ;)


  8. How do you harvest the plants? Like, get the greens out of the container to eat???

  9. Is there an organic alternative instead of using hydroponic nutrients?

    1. Do a search there is one organic nutrient source but is expensive. Do to the fact that no dirt is used the solution needs to also supply the macro and not just the micto nutrients. The short anser is not really, your not using fertalizers full of extra chemicals, just the nutrients the plants need.
      As stated below look into aquaponics,this is where you ballance the plants needs to the fishes waist. Hydroponics is easier to start out, tyen switch later to aquaponics. See instructables.

    2. Do a search there is one organic nutrient source but is expensive. Do to the fact that no dirt is used the solution needs to also supply the macro and not just the micto nutrients. The short anser is not really, your not using fertalizers full of extra chemicals, just the nutrients the plants need.
      As stated below look into aquaponics,this is where you ballance the plants needs to the fishes waist. Hydroponics is easier to start out, tyen switch later to aquaponics. See instructables.

  10. Anil. If you have a fish tank you could use that water instead of hydroponic nutrients. You would have an aquaponic window garden. Simply return the water to the tank once it filters through the water bottles. Good for the plants and good for the fish.

  11. It is very helpful tips for me. I defiantly use your tips in my work. Thank you for nice tips.

  12. Thanks so much for sharing this information! I have been looking into hydroponic gardening systems and researching to see what it ca do for me! can you tell me where I can find more information like this? Thanks for sharing!

  13. Hey PocketPcMan, you are a genius man. Recycling bottles and using it for gardening is a unique concept which I haven't seen before. You are recycling water too which is a precious resource and I think is a only viable option for gardening. Use of hydroponic gear for our grow room requires a little expertise hence a little knowledge is always beneficial. Here we have more information on hydroponic gear for getting maximum yields.

  14. Great window farm! I wonder how much one column weighs since I will be using command strips to hang this. I rent and can't drill holes in my ceiling. The max weight is 8 pounds so I can vary the number of bottles depending on which seeds i'm planting. My balcony garden is doing so well I am thinking about growing some lettuce in the winter. Ill hook up some lights when summer is over. Thanks for the great ideas!

  15. Replies
    1. He states above that the water gets recycled twice before changing.
      A pH meter and adjusting chemicals could possibly get more life from the solution but at an additional cost.

  16. Great post actually. I want to share this post to everyone. Thank you very much.
    Indoor Vegetable Garden System

  17. Just finished setting this up and there's a few tweaks I've made to this idea. I think a lot of this was harder than it needed to be. First I think it's unnecessary to use a drill at all. In fact, it was a decent risk that with we would drill into our hands. It doesn't need to be a perfect hole for the lids to fit though. Following this logic, the silicon is also completely unnecessary. Instead of spray painting, just use vinyl tape to darken the bottoms and then continue the tape to connect the bottles instead of using silicon. Next, you don't really need to use a drill to put small holes in the lid. Punching 5-6 little holes with a thumb tack works way easier. Then the top bottle you really just cut off the bottom, no drill needed and use a hole punch to make the holes for the rope. THe bottom bottle lid cut the top of the lid out so it's just the part that screws onto the bottle, then use the same taping method to attach the lids so you don't have to mess with glue. Overall, I think this is a good project for learning, but I'm not sure how long this setup will last. I guess we'll see. Thanks for the idea. Hope the modifications are useful to someone.

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