Two years later we are finally starting to see our initial vision become reality. It took longer than we anticipated to grow a big enough community of students that would support social efforts such as the community garden, but better late than never.
For almost a year some students have been talking about creating a garden and so, after doing some research we all decided on a recycled hanging garden modeled after a photo we found on the internet (see below).
A few weeks before our big construction day we had the students plant 'seeds of love' since it was February. You can see our recycled seedling planter below.
We had a variety of bottles saved up to choose from and ended up using mostly a typical Coke 2-Liter. You have to make sure you have a tool strong enough to cut the sides of the plastic. We were trying not to buy anything so wound up using steak knives.
We also decided to do 2 smaller holes instead of 1 large hole to help avoid the weaker plastic bottles collapsing. This may have been unneccessary.
It is also important to note that the bottle hanging at the top required a stronger plastic than a normal bottle. You can see below that we wound up having to tie a reinforcement string because the plastic was collapsing in the center due to the weight of the bottles hanging below. The green plastic was strong enough on it's own.
This was the tricky part and we spent several hours experimenting to find the perfect method. Unfortunately we were anticipating the plastic being weaker than it was and probably wasted some time.
Step #1: Use a small drill bit to make a hole in the center of the cap and at the bottom of the bottle. We tried to do this with a nail or knife initially but none of it was strong enough to pierce the plastic. A drill will be the easiest option.
Step #2: Measure how many bottles you can hang in your space. Again, we were pretty informal here and used our arms to measure from elbow to wrist. With 2-liters you probably can't do too many than 4 due to the weight.
Step #3: Determine if you want the caps to all face the same direction or zig zag. We chose zig zag thinking it would help support the weight more evenly. You also might be concerned about the cap colors matching. At the end we don't think this mattered in the final appearance.
Step #4: Tie the bottles together with fishing line. This material seems strong enough to hold, nimble enough to tie off and thin enough to pass through the holes in the bottle. We made a knot at each end meaning the bottles in the middle have 2 knots, one from the string from bottle below and the other from string going to bottle above.
You can see below that we started to weave 1 string through all of the bottles thinking it would be stronger, but it became very difficult to keep the bottles from sliding down the string with weight. The easiest and most affective method was to tie off at each hole.
Other considerations include irrigation. We did not put holes in the bottoms of the bottle to drain water because a friend had said it's too thin and the water runs out too quickly. One option would be to design an drip system but that will have to be for another time. In addition, we get lots of sun during certain months so a nice roof at the top of this wall would help protect the plants once they grow.
This finishes the construction instructions, we'll add on to this post if we have tips for growing.
Hope this inspires some creativity for limited urban spaces.