Gravity garden

Space is a rare and valuable thing when you live in an apartment. Whole weeks can go by without seeing any. There are times, when every surface is covered with papers, things or empty coffee mugs and crumb covered plates, and new surfaces (like empty amazon boxes piled on top of each other) need to be improvised, to of course accommodate more papers, plates and things. So why not tidy up, one might think. Well- there is a very reasonable answer to that: It only seems to come back! I have learned to be very Zen about it, and just let it be. Rather than fight it, I must adapt.

Avoid keeping seedling trays indoors, where they will inevitably be tripped over, or tipped over, sending seeds and dirt flying in every direction, let gravity hold them instead.

In the ongoing battle with space, I will also be adding a few more Pallet garden’s to the patio this year as well, my lettuce really enjoyed that. If you have any space saving garden ideas, please share, I would love to hear them.

Ingredients

  • 3 or more plastic bottles (you can have as many as 10 if you like, but they should all be the same shape and size, to fit together like a tower of ice cream cones)
  • Scissors
  • Soil
  • Seed or seedling
  • Fertiliser (miracle grow or chicken manure pellets, etc)
  • Plain cardboard (one small square for each bottle top)
  • Heavy string (needs to hold up the weight without breaking, I used raw hemp string)
  • A hand held hole punch (or the tip of a knife to pierce the plastic and pass the sting through)
  • A space to work that has absolutely no wind (or attention demanding pets willing to sabotage your efforts mid-project and knock over your soil filled bottles before getting a chance to hang them up. True story)

Recipe 

STEP ONE Cut all the bottles in half, casting the bottom’s (all but one) to the

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The top half of the bottle will act as an individual seed chamber.

side. You will be using one bottom and all the tops (with the caps removed). Insert a small piece of plain cardboard in each, place on top of the uncovered bottle neck hole. This will keep the soil from falling through. The cardboard will also help maintain moisture levels in the shallow soil, and keep it from drying out too quickly. 

STEP TWO Stand all the top’s upside down. Then, using the single hand held hole punch, make two holes opposite each other (about half a cm from the edge of the rim) on each bottle top. The holes should be on opposite sides as though you were going to make a little bottle swing.

Then, (with the cardboard placed inside), stack the tops (bottlenecks down) forming a tower. Make sure the holes are aligned on either side, as you will need the string to pass through them in a straight and taut line.

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Tie a knot on the last seed chamber (the bottom half of the bottle), and then loosely pass the string
through each hole leaving two long strands at the top (of each side), where you will tie your gravity garden from a beam, or somewhere it can hang from. 

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STEP THREE Now comes the tricky part: adding the soil to each chamber (sprinkle over the cardboard), while keeping it from toppling over.

TIP: Skip a step by mixing the fertiliser with the soil before hand.

Start with the lowest compartment (the bottom half that stands on its own), and make your way up the tower of bottle tops, adding to each compartment: soil, fertiliser and a seedling/ seed. 

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TIP: Place seed/seedling on the side. The bottle’s neck where the water will drip from the above chamber will hang down in the middle. Placing the seedling on the side will give the seedling more space to grow. Add two seedlings per chamber, by adding one on each side.

TIP: Add more than one row (ensuring that the weight is properly supported).

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 STEP FOUR Hang it up and let nature do its thing. Tie the loose strings to a beam or a curtain rod near a window, and water.

The great thing about the gravity garden is that you only need to water the first chamber, and all the excess water will trickle down (if it does not reach the lower chamber, add more water). You might also find it  will not require frequent watering, as each compartment, except for of the top, will be enclosed forming a little greenhouse where moisture cannot easily escape. 

STEP FIVE Watch it grow!

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