The bottle tower method highly appreciated (Lloyd Liebenberg, S. Africa)

A message from Lloyd Liebenberg

  • Hi Willem,

    I saw your posts about bottle towers and got so excited about the simplicity and elegance of the idea. I have begun a small project with my sons and we are still in the bottle collecting phase. We’re very keen to complete the project and experiment with all the different varieties that grow well using this method.

    I first want to gain some experience with the technique but we are so excited about the possibilities. We live in South Africa and there is a lot of poverty and informal settlements in some areas and this method could help so many. One of the things I like most about the idea is the water conservation and filtration aspects since water is often fetched with buckets and other containers from a central tap, stream or river.

    I have no idea if anyone in South Africa is running with this idea yet, but I want to explore the possibilities as a social project eventually.

    Thank you for the wonderful idea, I will be following your desertification blog with interest.

    Greetings from sunny South Africa!

    Lloyd Liebenberg


    Building a bottle tower for container gardening
    Plastic bottles stacked into a bottle tower can be recycled to set up a vertical kitchen garden at home. The bottle towers are used for container gardening of vegetables and herbs. How to build such a tower is shown in different steps.
    2012 : Gilbert VAN DAMME (Zaffelare, Belgium) building bottle towers (Photo WVC)
    2012 : And the result of growing vegetables and herbs in bottle towers (Photo WVC)
    Building towers of recycled bottles and/or pots offers fantastic opportunities to grow fresh food with a minimum of water and fertilizer. One can grow at home, in cities and villages, all kinds of vegetables and herbs. Bottle towers are a wonderful tool to alleviate hunger and malnutrition. They can be built at the lowest cost by any family everywhere on earth, particularly in drylands and deserts.
    2012 : Vegetables and herbs in bottle towers; tomatoes in buckets (Photo WVC)
    Anyone can grow vegetables and fruits at home. Growing plants in bottles is very easy. A number of examples are given. Different sizes and forms of bottles can be used. Setting up a series of bottle towers, one can even have a vertical kitchen garden in the smallest space, on a patio or a balcony, against a wall or a trellis. With some imagination, everyone can set up her or his own little garden with recycled bottles, thus combating hunger, malnutrition and environmental pollution.
    2012 : Planting herbs in bottle towers on a pallet (Photo WVC)
    Anyone can grow fresh food in containers anywhere (in rural and urban areas).  Crops in containers need less water and less fertilizer.  This video shows vegetables and herbs grown in bottle towers, buckets and pots.  It is an easy way to get food security and to combat hunger and child malnutrition.
    2012: Lettuce and other food crops in bottle towers (Photo WVC)
    Almost any plant can be grown in a bottle.  The method shown in this video is simple, inexpensive and efficient.  One can apply this method for growing vegetables, herbs, ornamental plants etc. in smaller or bigger bottles.  Adapt the size of the bottle to the dimensions of the plants you want to grow.  Tree saplings grown in a bottle can be planted in their final location leaving the major part of the bottle around the root ball.  This enhances the survival rate of the saplings.
    2012 : Gilbert and Dennis VAN DAMME (Zaffelare, Belgium) setting up bottle towers on pallets (Photo WVC)


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

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