Water Bottle Gardens? – Window Gardens for Gardening in Small Spaces

Photo - NPR and Window Farms

Can you tell that I am into gardening? It’s so relaxing and I love the fact that a little work in the beginning pays off with great dividends at the end. For example, I just had the first of many summer squash and a couple of small cherry tomatoes the other day. They were fantastic! Of equal interest to me is reuse, as seen in our barrel garden article, and re-purposing things. Most problems have simple answers if we just look at them in a different light. So, for those of you with limited garden space, I present to you, water bottle gardens!

They’re not gardens in the traditional sense, but why do things always have to be traditional? Urban container gardening is becoming an increasingly popular hobby for many high rise residents. But what happens if you don’t have a terrace, rooftop garden, or grow light? You have to harness that HomeFixated creativity of yours.  It’s been called window farming; by suspending modified water bottles in front of sunny windows people are growing plants, like salad greens or herbs, year round.


Photo – Our.WindowFarms.org

Water bottle gardens are designed like mini-hydroponics systems, where nutrient enriched water is pumped through the columns of water bottles and then allowed to matriculate down to the bottom to cycle over again. By doing it this way, the plants in the water bottles get the water and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus that they need without having the messes that coincide with soil inside an apartment. Or, if you don’t care you can use vermiculite, a great growing medium for container plants.

The water bottles are suspended and fed into one another with a hole cut in the side to allow the plant to grow and a hole at the bottom to let the water flow out. Inside the water bottles a growing medium is added for root holding and also for important nitrogen-fixing bacteria to grow. The most common growing medium is expanded clay pebbles or small stones like that in concrete. The bacteria are important because they transform organic forms of nitrogen into inorganic forms like nitrates and ammonia. Plants can only uptake this form of nitrogen into their roots.

WindowFarms.org and this blog by the same name, have some great info, along with this video about the growing Window Farm revolution:

Some window ‘farmers’ grow larger plants including strawberries, bok choi, and peppers. There truly are a lot of options of plants to grow with this unique technique. By growing vertically, “farmers” don’t lose precious floor space in their apartments. So, no more whining when you want organic spinach for your salad and it’s snowing outside. Plan ahead and you can cut some spinach from the water bottle hanging in the window 12 stories up. Yep, I bet you didn’t think you’d read that sentence anytime soon did you? If you give window farming a try, please let us know about it.

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