Making your world a greener place

Try to ignore the dirty window, the geranium that needs deadheading and the video-bombing chicken. Instead, notice the recycled plastic bottle which, when filled with water and placed upside down into the soil, slowly hydrates the plants in our window boxes by way of drip irrigation. We use these homemade irrigators in the tunnel and in the tire planters also. It prevents the stress on plants that happens when the soil becomes too dry which often happens in containers causing plants to wilt and become weak and stunted. As the bubbles go up, the water drips out.

There is more than one way to make drip irrigation bottles…

When placed above the soil and upside down as shown here, the bottle cap can be left on the bottle and holes drilled into the cap for the water to escape (this we do with larger mouthed bottles). If you notice the drilled holes become clogged from the soil, try enlarging the holes and/or perhaps put a few small pebbles mixed with fine sand in the hole just where the cap sits. Another option is to remove the cap completely (which we do with smaller mouthed bottles– around the size of a quarter or one euro coin size). With both these options, the flat end/bottom of the bottle can be left as is or it can be cut off. When cut off, it becomes easier to refill the water as the bottle never has to be removed from the soil. The downside to this is that it needs refilling* more often– the upside is that if it’s being used outside then it will collect rainwater. *Refilling the water bottles is a great chore for children.

Another option is to make several holes in the bottle itself and bury it in the ground right side up with just the pour spout above the ground surface. Refilling with water is done via the spout. This option may be more aesthetically pleasing but it takes up valuable root space in containers.

Glass bottles could also be used without cutting off the bottoms or having a cap on. Wouldn’t wine, vodka or gin bottles be pretty? Pretty dangerous with the winds we have here on the island me thinks– empty plastic bottles have been blown out of their containers so make sure to bury them deep enough if you too live in an area that’s prone to strong winds. 😀 And I’m certainly not suggesting you start drinking that much booze, haha! 😉

So whether you’re looking for a little help around the garden, an inexpensive solution to water your precious garden plants while on holiday or are just a recycling zealot, this practice will help to keep your world a greener place.

21 Comments

  1. Vivienne says:

    This makes my day on several levels! First, it’s a great idea for our window boxes, and living in the Deep South, they do get, quickly and completely, parched in Summer. And.. I laughed out loud at the title “Recycling zealot!” I could swear you were in my kitchen cabinet this morning, listening, as I fussed about the plastic bottles that had only made it as far as my countertops, but could not seem to make the last leap into the recycling bin! Drives me bonkers. So, I am passing this along to the Zealot. himself, who will be thrilled to have yet another useful life for the bottles! Wishing you a wonderful day on Inis Mor!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Big smile on my face knowing this post has had that effect on you. Anything that saves a bit of time and is good for the planet, eh?! Send me a snap of your window boxes on Fb page or so… I think it would make a nice companion to the photo of your tractor that decorates my mind so lovely and often when I think of you. Today is stellar, as was yesterday and the day before. Hoping ours is as well. Love from Inis Mor to Tennessee my darling. Xx

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  2. D > Great idea! For us the main concern is in the greenhouses, especially for tomatoes, which are very thirsty. Even on a cloudy day they can dry out the ground! Rather than spend forever each day watering, or a fortune on a watering system, we like to improvise like you do. Oddly enough, we hadn’t thought of burying the bottles into the soil.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that works brilliantly and the tunnel/greenhouse is such a needy place. I like to place them into basil because my experience is they don’t like to be watered on the leaves directly. Do you have tomatoes yet? I just noticed the first green ones appearing this week, probably one of the most exciting things of the year is when all our tlc begins to reward us with these little pleasures!

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    • A 1 1/2 litre bottle, like Volvic, lasts just over 24 hours on a dry sunny day, I’ve had them last two days when it’s been overcast. My son filled them last early evening and they are about 1/3 gone now. Won’t be long going in this heat I think. When pouring that same amount over them daily, a good amount of it runs through and ends up running straight through to the ground. Not much more effort but a better use of that time and labor I think. Definitely more beneficial for the plants. If going away, we’d soak the plants first then put in two bottles and in the tunnel I have five-litre bottles. Hope this makes sense.

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    • I’ve always thought they could be decorated very nicely also…your littles might have some clever ideas! Is one of those plans on the back burner of my brain forever now!! Oh, to divide myself so one could always be in the craft room! 😀 Hugs and more hugs my dear friend. Xx

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  3. skyeent says:

    I do something similar in the polytunnel – although I also just cut the tops off and leave the bottles like a funnel. Particularly useful for tomatoes and courgette. Have a look at the Harris gin bottles – they are like sea glass these would make beautiful waterers for a pottager style dry garden. Unfortunately, they are a bit of a luxury, and although I’ve bought several as presents, no one has returned the compliment yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, I really like the colour of those gin bottles! Some pubs use super large bottles for big sellers such as vodka and whiskey; I always thought those would be attractive too. One thing I didn’t mention is that with some of the plastic bottles I’ve only cut 3/4 the way around on the bottom, creating a flap-like cover that can be lifted to add water in and then flapped closed again to slow down evaporation (theoretically of course as I’m not sure how truly effective it is). Makes sense in my mind somehow though! Happy gardening my dear 😀

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  4. Last year I used water bottles for my tomato plants. I put holes in the caps, put that end in the soil, and cut the bottoms off which is how I filled them. It worked perfectly except for the soil that clogged the holes. I ended up putting small pieces of landscape fabric around the caps, and that worked pretty well.

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    • That’s a great idea to use the landscape fabric. Wish we’d thought of it too! The sand and pebble combo does the trick pretty well for us but may not continue to be as effective over time. Sure, we can try the fabric then! Thanks for the tip Judy. 🙂

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