Here’s a fun activity to do with your children. What is it? It’s a vertical garden made out of recyclable materials! Here’s what you need:
* One 8 foot 2×4
* Eight 2 liter bottles
* Plumbers strap + small screws
* A child
Rinse out your 2 liter bottles
Strip the label off with scissors or a knife. It’s a good time to teach your child the proper use of a knife. These are good rules to follow:
* Always point the blade away from your body
* Never force it
* Keep your knife sharp
The bottles get filled with dirt, so I skip the part with the glue. Alternatively, you can leave the labels on which will help keep sunlight out of the roots. Although I haven’t had a problem with it yet.
Cut the bottoms off your bottles. There’s a seam ring around all 2 liter bottles, just follow that line and you’ll have a nice even cut. You can use a razor blade or scissors. I start it with a razer blade and cut around it with scissors.
Keep the bottoms! Stack them together. I can show you what to do with them in another article.
STEP 5 – THE LONG STRAP
Place the 2 liter bottle about 2-3 inches from the bottom of the 2×4.
Start at the large end of the bottle and cut a piece of strap to wrap around it . You’re going to screw it to the 2×4 on each side. Hold the end while you screw it or the strap can twist and you could get cut. Snip the excess off.
STEP 6 – THE SHORT STRAP
Do the same thing to the end with the cap. Except this time wrap it so the strap stops the bottle without digging into the plastic. See picture
Use the 2 straps you just made as a template and cut 7 more (16 total, 8 long 8 short).
STEP 8 – SPACE THEM OUT
I like to space mine out so I can easily remove them. The top of one meets the bottom of another. I did a row in the past so I just made marks where needed. If you complete couple of bottles, you can find measurements for the remainder markings. See pictures.
We screwed all the straps on one side of the 2×4; from the bottom: short,long,short,long, etc… I held the screws and she helped me start them with a hammer. Remember to hold the straps when you screw them in.
Fill a 2 liter with soil. I like to find free soil from shade trees that drop their leaves and compost. Under the leaves is black dirt, the good stuff. My daughter loves earthworms now :)
Cut a cross in the middle (or upper middle) and fold the top flaps in. Below is some garlic I’m starting. You can experiment with different cuts, but I like this one the best because it gets water two the roots with minimal leakage.
I fill 6 bottles with dirt and leave 2 remaining. The top bottle is a fill tank, the bottom one is a catch so you can recycle the water. I find that in the mornings, water will drain through all 6 containers rapidly, but in the afternoon, water will only drain through about 3, so I made a jump from the bottom of the 1st (catch) container to the top of the 5th container. There’s 2 holes drilled in the cap (same size), one feeds into the first plant and the hose jumps to more water where I need it.
You can also drill small holes through the caps and that will help prevent dirt from leaking.
I get people questioning me about the safety of the plastic containers (leaching). The bottles are 1 PET so no BPAs but I’m not qualified enough to advise on safety, but I do know plastic containers and plastic sheeting is used throughout agriculture, transportation, and storage so I don’t think I’m going to get away from it anytime soon and I think it’s a great way to recycle :)
Learn how to use the rest of your two liter bottles in another related project here: Garbage Day Umbrellas!