Recycling plastic bottles in the garden

Let’s face it… we’re a society that creates a lot of crap that can’t be easily disposed of. Plastic has been a blessing in manufacturing but a curse to the environment. So, how do we “Greenies” cope? We do our best to use fewer plastic products (a tough one since plastic is used in so many things), and we try to find as many ways as possible to reuse the plastic items already in our possession until they absolutely, positively have to be sent to a landfill somewhere.

When it comes to used soft drink bottles, I cut them to use:

  1. the bottom third or so as a nursery pot,
  2. the top bit as a funnel, and
  3. the middle ring (if you’ve cut it neatly) as a bottomless pot in the garden for shallow-rooted plants that you want to restrain within a small area. (I haven’t needed to do this myself, but it’s a possibility!)

A recycled drink bottle converted into a self-watering container - perfect for plants like mint that need moist soil

Recently I was introduced to the idea of using the bottom and top pieces of the bottle as a unit to form a self-watering container. Just invert the top of the bottle, with the cover loosely screwed on, and fill it with potting mix. The cap keeps the mix from falling out. Half fill the bottom of the bottle with water, and place the inverted top half in it. Water will seep through the loosened cap and moisten the potting mix. What I love about this design is that there’s no way for mosquitoes to get to the water, and you can see your plant roots as they grow along the sides of their growing container!

Another way to utilize used bottles is to pierce a few small holes along the sides and bottom of the bottle, and bury the bottle so that only the top is above ground. Fill the bottle with water, cap it loosely so that mosquitoes won’t be able to breed in the water, and it will slowly release water underground, directly to your plant’s roots. This will keep your plants happy and hydrated, even on hot days!

22 April 2010 is Earth Day. What can you do to take care of our planet?

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Recycling plastic bottles in the garden — 13 Comments

  1. I’ve been using the top-half inversion method as a way of recycling and I love it. =) Absolutely awesome way to turn supposed waste into something so useful.

  2. ahh.. now that Ive seen the pic of self watering contraption i understand.. simple and easy enough for me to do :P

    My idea of self watering was to stick the mouth of entire water bottle (with base cut out) into the pot and fill it with water and we know that ain’t going to work right :D

    I am going on hols soon any advise how to take care of plants esp potted herbs while I am away? I dont hv relatives or anyone nearby to help and didnt want to trouble the neighbour.

    • Hmm, there are watering systems that are on timers, but I think they’re quite expensive.
      Anyway I haven’t had much luck with herbs – they keep dying on me – so I might not be the best person to ask…
      Have you visited the GCS forum? You could try asking for advice there. The link is on the right in my gardening links.

  3. hey curious, I am stuck to your blog like glue.. do you do this full time? potting , photographing, planning, blogging?

    • Nah, I multi-task, just like everybody else. And I space out my posts, otherwise there’ll be a glut for a while, then a long silence… Thankfully, I get a lot of inspiration from my garden and nature, so it’s all good for now.

  4. ok.. i’m quite inspired now to be a better and well informed gardener.. not just accidental

  5. curious I am still potting ard the unfamiliar blogging garden. sometimes i forget which post i planted my comments. i hv to look for respond to my comments like ants on the grass. and u know yr blog is like carpet grass right..

  6. oh.. hehe… learning something everyday… your blog is too stylish and sophisticated ..* playing simple mind music in the background *

  7. btw, do you know any interesting knowledgeable witty sophisticated generous garden bloggers like you but from M’sia? I notice mostly Singaporeans, very nice.

    • Enough, you’re embarrassing me already :)
      There are many M’sian garden blogs – visit Typicalgardener’s site from my blogroll. If you browse through the GCS forum, you’ll come across others as well. Link is also on the right. :)