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March 01, 2010


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Charlie Whitehead

Time Magazine says Valcent's Vertical Farming Technology one of the Top 50 Best Innovations of 2009:

"I can't think of any technology that addresses more urgent issues than Valcent's vertical farming system", says Robert F Kennedy Jr

Lori Kelsey

My tote garden has done wonderfully. I never had much luck with certain veggies- but have gotten broccoli, califlower, turnips, strawberries, carrots and peas. These totes were made with recycled totes I got at garage sales and plastic milk and water jugs at the bottom. I don't have a lid on them as they are in a greenhouse, but when summer comes, I will be converting them to summer crops with plastic covers. Only problem I had was space, as the plants grew to be bigger than I expected!


OMG - I am super psyched -- I plan to make this today! here is a youtube version that seems to be very similar also

its amazing what can be done with a "Can-Do" attitude, regardless of resources.


Global Buckets

Dear Greenscaper,

We love this simplified version.

May we "borrow" part of this post to put on our "New Design" section of our blog We will of course give you full credit and a link.

Thank You,

Max Buster


Hi Max,

You have my permission to use photos and information from this blog with attribution as you described.

I really applaud the work that you and your brother are doing and hope that you continue in some way. You are both providing a significant social service.

You can help all of us involved in the cause of modern methods of personal food production by using this method and helping to product test it.

I know from growing these coffee trees that it works. The trees are very healthy and growing rapidly.

I do not, however, have a product test garden at this time to test any quantity of larger SIPs like this. My lab is indoors and made up mostly of soda bottle SIPs.

The only question about the “simple SIP” is the durability of the milk containers and the inverted nursery trays. How will they stand up through a growing season?

It would be of obvious benefit to recycle these plastics because of their widespread availability. Who knows how many of them are going into landfills.

Incidentally, I have great memories of Colorado from my IBM days when we opened a magnetic tape manufacturing facility in Boulder. I spent a lot of time living in the Harvest House. There were many rides up into your beautiful Rocky Mountains.

Let me know if I can be of any help.

Take care,
Bob Hyland

Natalie DeNormandie

Hi Bob,
I am a landscape architect designing a SIP out of recycled 55 gallon drums to hold vines for a recycling facility in Boston. I was hoping to get your critique of whether you think my modified design will work. I'd like to send you a sketch with notes - do you have time to look it over and comment?

If so, please email me and leave me your contact information (email is fine) so I can send a JPEG or PDF.

Thanks so much - Love your site, such exciting work!
Natalie DeNormandie


hello, Bob!

i've been following your blog and have tried some soda bottle SIPs at home! (a small apartment in São Paulo, Brazil)

i started with some cherry tomato seeds, and they've grown a lot, much more than i expected in such a short time! i planted 10 seeds in half a 500mL bottle... that was too small!!

now, i think i must plant them somewhere else, cause i've got roots getting all out of the planter... is it possible? can i end up killing them, for cutting part of the roots?

thanks in advance! : )


Hi there,

May I know what would be a good percentage of the total volume that the reservoir should take up? Also what should the suggested minimum depth of potting mix be?




Can you please describe the large slots cut into the bottom of the containers? Also, are the drain holes just below the level of the top of the containers? And is it necessary to fill the drain holes with tubes?

Thanks so very much. I am obsessed with SIP's and can't stop thinking about this!!


I'm so excited about this! I now have two SIP bins in my pool area with some tomato plants, peppers and squash and they look okay to great. (It's only been a week.) But here's my problem. With the torrential rain storms I've had over the past week (SW FL) I've not had to add any water, but yesterday I noticed a bad smell coming from the empty-water-bottle fill tubes (rotting greenery/compost type of smell.) Is this okay or should I try and flush the reservoir somehow? In everything I've been reading (I'm also obsessed, lol) I've not heard mention of this happening. Hopefully I didn't do something totally wrong.


I would like to plant seeds in an 18 gallon tote SIP. Will capillary action be enough to get moisture to the seeds that are half an inch to an inch from the surface? Thanks for your response.


can someone advise me on how ofter i should be filling the SIP reservoir? i ask because my planters are on the roof and that makes it harder to check and add water.

any advice would be great. the approx. volume of my reservoir is 5 gallons.

thx neil


I have built my first container and I am worried. I put in a drainage tub but the soil seems to be too wet and the tomato plant I have in there is starting to die. Should I add more overflow tubes and how do I take care of keeping the soil drainage correct?

Al Gracian

@ Sarah:

Your Potting Mix should have extra Perlite added for aeration & drainage. What type of mix did you use?

Also, the number of overflow tubes shouldn't matter much. Rather, how far down did you place the drainage hole? It should be BELOW the tops of your jugs / aeration screen.

Finally make sure that the majority of your potting mix rests on top of your air chamber(s). Only a small percentage of mix should be in constant contact with the water reservoir.

See here:

flash games for kids

can someone advise me on how ofter i should be filling the SIP reservoir? i ask because my planters are on the roof and that makes it harder to check and add water.

any advice would be great. the approx. volume of my reservoir is 5 gallons.

thx neil


In this design, are there holes in the sides of the milk jugs or just the tops? Thanks for sharing your knowledge with all of us!

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