My vegetable garden in plastic bottles (Willem / MMC)

My vegetable garden in plastic bottles

On May 10, 2007, I published a message on “My vegetable garden in plastic bottles“, which was leading to a number of positive comments and suggestions. For a reminder, here is this text again :

My experiments on growing vegetables in plastic bottles have been very convincing up to now. Not only all the species showed a good development (except for the cauliflower which was infected), but I am more and more convinced that this gardening method can be a significant contribution to the combat of desertification, hunger and pollution of the environment (less plastic in the household waste). It can efficiently be used for “desert gardening“.

In order to motivate a large number of people to set up similar trials with their choice of vegetables (or other plants), I bring you some drawings and pictures. Wishing you a lot a pleasure and interesting observations. Will you send me a small report (if possible with some photos) ?

Perforated bottles
Click to enlarge the picture

(1) Plastic bottle with stop on top and perforated bottom (drainage); (2) Stop taken off and conical part of the bottle cut away; small slit cut in the cone; (3) Cone pushed to the bottom in the bottle; (4) Bottle filled with potting soil mixed with the water absorbing soil conditioner TerraCottem, well compacted up to 5 cm from the bottle top; (5) Seed(s) or seedling(s) in the soaked potting soil.

Nice drawings made by my son Paul with the SketchUp program (free!).

2007-03 Decapitated bottle

Prepared bottle : Through the cone, air is penetrating in the potting soil via the hole in the bottom of the bottle; it enables also the evacuation of an excess of water (drainage).

2007-03 : 4 bottles
Bottles of different dimensions with vegetables.

2007-03 Bottle collection
My small vegetable garden (potager) in my office.

I hope to receive your comments and the reports on your experiments.


Today, I received again some interesting comments with appreciation and suggestions:

(1) Denise | | |

I have used plastic bottle as mini greenhouses for years but never thougth of gardens in bottles. Great idea!

(2) MMC | |

In pursuing your link to Lasagna Gardening, I came across the link below. I believe it contains a significant addition to your bottle gardens, and adds a whole dimension. I particularly refer to the partial burying of bottles of water next to plants to act as drip watering cans. [They have pin holes in them.]

Combining the polymers and these bottles, gardeners can hopefully go on trips and come back after hopefully a week or more without crop damage.

Now that I think of it, I guess it could be a challenge to combine getting the water in the watering bottles into a plant that is in a bottle. Also, I have drunk out of some plastic bottles that have been in the sun and there is some kind of chemical released into the water after being in the sun. Toxic and unpleasant. Hopefully, by painting the bottles one can avoid this, and if with light colored paint, the temperature may be lower considerably when in the sun. [The best of the new acrylic paints will hold up MUCH, MUCH better than older paints.]

Anyway, partially or almost wholly burying the bottles next to plants is another use of your principle, if not directly holding plants, then acting as an easily made drip system. I believe it avoids much more evaporation than drip system, as the water is released underground.

Potential challenges could include clogging of the holes, and possible release of toxins as a result of the sun.


(3) MMC | |

Article referenced above-


…I prepare my site by installing water jugs buried up to their shoulders between where every two plants will be. A pin hole in the sides facing the plants should let enough seep out to keep up consistent watering. I place a tall stick in each jug, its top colored with red paint or nail polish. This helps me find the sticks, which helps me find the openings to the jugs when all the foliage hides them from view. I fill the jugs with a funnel and the water hose. You can add liquid plant food to the water if you like.

Planting and harvest. Wait until after the last frost, then plant the seedlings. Create a well of soil around the stem to help catch any rain. If you have prepared the lasagna bed in advance, all you will have to do is scrape the soil aside and lay the plant down up to the last four leaves. Press the soil around the plant to make direct contact and push out any air pockets.

Once the jugs and plants are in place, make a collar of one or two sheets of wet newspaper, place it around the stem, and cover the paper with mulch….



Sincere thanks to these correspondents, Willem !


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

5 thoughts on “My vegetable garden in plastic bottles (Willem / MMC)”

  1. good idea,i,m doing kinda the same but i have black plastic around mine and they are burried in the ground,also i use 5 gallon buckets,,really cool,no weeds

  2. Thank you William to share your bottle gardening. I will start this week with my first bottles, I live in Southern Spain and have only a patio so this is a very good solution to grow my own veggies again! I love it!

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