DIY Container Garden Plans Using Soda Bottles!

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When I first saw these container garden plans, I jumped on it!  In my new home, I have plenty of space for a garden, but knew I didn't want to garden the way our family had done when I was a kid!

BUT, this approach has so many advantages:
Almost NO WEEDING!
Self-watering!
NO bending!
Expandable!
Moveable!

One serious issue, though!!!  It is addicting!  You want another pop bottle garden, and another, and another!

To see the kind of success I had with this fun and easy pop bottle garden, click here, or on the photo of the carrots.



Tools Needed.

You will need a drill, a jig saw, a utility knife, and a scissors.



Materials Needed for
Container Garden Plans.

The materials needed to make one of these container garden plans are:

(1) 28 qt. 5 1/2" high plastic container with cover (the kind designed to fit under the bed);

(6) 2 liter soda bottles:

(1) can spray paint that will cover plastic;

(6) 6" or longer zip ties;

(1) reusable grocery bag; and

(1)  bag POTTING MIX (not potting soil).



Cost Estimate.

The total project, before seeds or plants, will cost less than $15!!!  It's about $5 for the plastic container with cover, about $5 for the spray paint, and about $5 for the bag of potting mix.

The zip ties will be another couple of dollars if you have to buy those. There will be enough in one package of 100 for more than 10 of these pop bottle gardens.



Prepare The Soda Bottles!

Step One:
  Tape the Soda Bottles for Painting.

Glass insets on this door had slipped since the door was installed 33 years earlier.

Only the middle part of the 5 planter soda bottles needs to be painted, so tape the top and bottom as shown.

One of the soda bottles will serve as part of the self-watering system, so there will need to be a blank strip along the side.  Through that unpainted section you will easily be able to see the water level.





Step Two:
Spray Paint the Bottles & Container.

The hardest part of spray painting was finding a way to hold the bottles in place.  I finally ended up taking a scrap piece of wood, and screwed 4 of the longest screws I could find through the underside.  I then put straws onto the screws to hold the bottles upright.  I should have put in 6 of these screws so I could of sprayed all of the bottles for one soda bottle container garden at one time!!  I also should have spaced the screws farther apart so the bottle didn't touch.

BUT, the painting doesn't have to be perfect!!  Obviously, mine isn't.

The paint helps to keep the sun away from the roots of the plant, and helps prevent the growth of algae in the water reservoir.





Step 3:
Drill Holes for Water.

Next drill 3 or 4 holes in the threaded part of the neck of each of the 5 soda bottles using a medium-sized drill bit.  These holes will allow the plants to get water!!

Next, drill 3 or 4 holes, using the same drill bit, just below the paint line on the 5 soda bottles you will be using as planters.  These holes will allow excess water to drain out of the planter soda bottles.  You don't want your plants to get too much water!!  This is especially important if your planter will be outside in the rain.

On the 6th (self-waterer) bottle, drill 3 holes about 1 3/4" from the top of the neck.  This will allow the water from that bottle to slowly drain into the reservoir as the plants take up the reservoir water.



Step 4:
Cut the Bottoms Off the 5 Soda Bottles.

Using your paint line as a guide, cut the bottom off 5 of your soda bottles.

Do NOT cut the bottom of the 6th soda bottle!  You want it to be able to store water!





Step 5:
Block the Neck of the 5 Soda Bottles.

You are going to fill up your 5 soda bottles with potting mix, and you don't want it to come out the bottom!  I used a weed barrier, which is just some plastic with holes already poked into it.

Use a reusable grocery bag instead!! 

Cut out 4" squares.  Then wrap it around the neck, and secure with a zip tie.  You could also secure it with twist ties, wire, rubber band, or whatever works.  After attached, poke a couple of small holes through the fabric into the neck.

This little piece of bag will hold the potting mix in the container while still allowing water to seep through the holes in the neck of the bottle.

Your soda bottles are now ready!







Prepare the Reservoir Container!



Step 6:
Mark the Cover For the Cut Outs.

On my 3rd pop bottle container garden I finally figured out that a 1 qt. paint can made the same size circle as the pop bottles.

I used juice bottles for some of these container garden plans, and found that they were sturdy enough to trace around the bottom I cut off.  Also, if you stack up several of the soda bottle bottoms, they will also maintain their shape so that you can trace them.





Step 7:
Drill Holes and Cut Out the Cover.

Drill a hole in each of the circles.  That hole should be as big as the jig saw blade is wide.

Then cut out each of the spaces for your soda bottles.





Step 8:
Drill Overflow Hole & Add the Water.

Put the cover onto the water reservoir.  Fill the reservoir with about 2" of water.  Fill your self-watering soda bottle with water, and place it in one of the cut-outs.

You will notice that the water does not pour out of the soda bottle.  It will only go into the reservoir as the water in the reservoir is used up!





Step 9:
Fill Each of the
5 Soda Bottles With Potting Mix.

Why potting mix and not potting soil?  The potting mix, which is primarily plant matter, will allow the moisture to wick from the neck of the bottle all the way to the seeds, and then, after germination, to the roots of your plants.

Fill the neck of the bottle, and then water the potting mix in.  Add a couple of more inches of potting mix, and then water again.  Keep adding a layer of potting mix, making sure each layer is well-watered!

How far should you fill each bottle?  ALL THE WAY, because it settles.  I left a couple of inches at the top on my first soda bottle container garden, and wish I hadn't!

P.S.  This container was larger than the one I recommend!  Once it is filled, it is very heavy to move.  Go with the 28 quart one!!!





Step 10:
Time to Plant!!

I planted my first soda bottle garden with seeds.  It was fun when my teen-aged son would tell me when I had new plants coming up!!

These container garden plans would be a great project to build with kids or grandkids!





Progress After 3 Weeks!

The pea plants are taking off.  Spinach and lettuce should be ready to pick in a couple of weeks.  Bell peppers are slow and I transplanted them into my "juice bottle garden." (See below)

The onions totally bombed.  I will try again with those.





How About
Juice Bottle Container Garden Plans?

As I warned you at the beginning, it is quite addicting!  I couldn't collect the pop bottles fast enough, so I used juice bottles for another garden.  They were actually much easier to work with!!!

I transplanted some of the peppers I started from seed in the first garden to these new container garden plans.





Still Not Enough Bottles!
So the Milk Jugs Were Next!

We have hardly had any recycling since I started making these container garden plans!

The self-watering milk jug collapsed on me within a couple of days, so will have to solve that for the next one! But the tomatoes are loving this set up!

I am working on a page to show how to build these container garden plans with milk bottles!





More and More Container Gardens!

Instead of gardening being a chore, it has been a total delight!

I have been eating lettuce and spinach for lunch almost every day.  The tomatoes are flowering.





The Carrots and Peas are Growing!

I have been thinning out the carrots.  So looking forward to pulling fresh carrots out!

The pea plants look yellow in the photo, but they are not in real life (just checked them.)  Each day a new branch connects to the trellis!

Just planted a couple more pop bottles with pea pods!  Hopefully, we can pick pea pods for a few weeks!





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