My office DIY hanging bottle food garden

June 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Blog

Rob Hanging Food Garden


In my student days I living in flats across Auckland and loved growing a range of produce such as corn, cherry tomatoes, beans, chilies, lettuce, capsicums, courgettes, carrots, broccoli and strawberries (in the photos below). When I moved into my apartment in 2011 I missed having an outdoor space for my green thumbs but that wasn’t going to stop me.

Rob Garden Flats


There was a website I stumbled across called which had contributions from thousands of people worldwide united by the trials and tribulations of harvesting food from apartment hanging gardens. The site doesn’t exist anymore but this is a screen shot of the landing page showing the community of 45,100 people from around the world:



With great aspirations of creating my own garden, to upgrade the designs from the website, I set out to develop a fully off the grid power supply with faster seed germination and plant growth.

This was the schematic that I rendered designed to pull electricity from the sun and convert this power into pumping the water and creating red & blue lighting within the ultra violet spectrum for rapid photosynthesis.

Rob Thomas Office Solar Food Project set up


Click on the link for the PDF: Solar Food Project set up

Sourcing items from online, hardware stores and reaching into recycle bins, I called my mates over to help with soldering and rigging the system.

The first concept

Rob Thomas Solar Food Garden Setup Rob Thomas Solar Food Garden Setup Night







































This system worked until the battery ran out.

Despite strong resolution, the awesome look and eminence technology the first design did not provide enough solar sun to charge the battery and power the rigging for the water pump, ozone generator, lights, heat lamp and re-charge the battery.

The other major challenge I had was I used soil in the rigging which blocked the pipes and often caused minor floods.


The season of cherry tomatoes

Scrolling back through the windowfarms site I realized that I needed to convert the garden into a hydroponic system with clay beads and coconut husk.  I replaced the 12v battery driven pump with a fish tank air pump plugged into the mains electrical supply.

Berried among coconut husks the cherry tomato seeds started to sprout.

Tomatoe plants













Within weeks the plants had started to scale up and beyond the bottles. Rigging was required to manage the large canopy growing over every inch of the window. To manage the system I reduced the two part system to a single hanging bottle system with plants growing from just the top and bottom bottle. The results were spectacular.

Rob Hanging Food Garden 2


Flowers blossomed across the branches but without bees to fertilize the flowers I started to use a small paint brush to dust the flowers.

Cherry Tomatoes 2














For 7-8 months cherry tomatoes fruited in the window in absence of season and soil.

Cherry Tomatoes











Weekly maintenance was required to replace water, with more than 1 litre of water required each day, trimming the roots and branches but the fruits were worth the labour.


Season two with hot capsicums

After the Christmas Holiday period it was time for a change and to experiment with new seeds and a double rigging system.

Bottles hanging garden










A small number of cherry tomatoes from last year re-seeded from fallen fruit.

However, the successor in the new season are two very healthy hot capsicum plants now in fruit.

capsicum Hot Mix

Season 2 Rob Thomas 2



























Season 2 Rob Thomas 3

Season 2 Rob Thomas















Thanks to all my friends who helped to build the first prototype and for my partner for putting up with the constant changes.



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