This weekend I went to Malvern flower show with my pal. I had never been before, but it reminded me of Royal Cornwall show I used to go to with my grandparents as a small child – except there were no cattle or sheep shows.
In one of the school gardens I saw a great idea I had to try. They had pint milk bottles with strawberries growing in them, all suspended on a horizontal bamboo cane. It inspired me to try something similar myself.
A school garden based on Shakespeare’s Tempest.
I knew that this wouldn’t last long term. A pint bottle is too small for decent root growth, and bamboo is strong until it gets waterlogged then it rots. I would likely give way at around fruiting time for the berries.
So I’ve gone for a 4 pint or 2 litre bottle with drainage tidied to trees. I wanted there to be extra root space so things wouldn’t become root bound near harvesting time. First up chop a hole at the bottle neck area on the opposite side to the handle, make sure not to cut through the screw threads though as you want the top to remain strong. I added light weight drainage using recycled materials too.
Bottle lids and straws will create small air pockets at the bottom of the bottle which will be replaced by water.
This has the same effect as the straws but is not as colourful or pretty. You can tell by my muddy hands this wasn’t my first planter today.
Stuff the gap full of normal shop bought compost, preferably peat free. For this planter I used reduced petunias, these were mega cheap (5 pence) as they were limp and nearly dead from the heat recently but as you can see they perked back to life with some TLC. The other picture shows the nice bright colours from the straws and lids.
In the other milk bottle planters I used my Grandads strawberry plants. These plants have been growing since I removed his hanging baskets after he died, nearly a decade ago. They are allowed to spread runners freely in the tubs and beds they grow in, and thankfully just kept going.
I have secured the bottles to strong branches of our fruit trees using cable ties, but you could use baler twine to tie them to concrete fence posts or the triangle brackets you would have standard hanging baskets hooked up to.
This could even work indoors – in the bathroom with humidity loving plants or in the kitchen with herbs.
Go play, it’s amazing what you can do with an empty bottle and decent scissors.
So, what do you think of this upcycling? What plants do you think would work in these? Do you have a better garden use for plastic milk bottles?