Monday’s Guests – Build Your Own Containers for Small Space Gardening

Through his blog and social media, Mike Lieberman shares his expertise on urban gardening, green living and real food. He inspires others to start growing their own food and believes that growing just one herb or vegetable will make a difference. It will help to cut back the intensive resources that go into the production and transport of food to our plates. It will also help us to re-establish our connection with food that we’ve lost over the past few years. We are humans. We grow food. Connect with Mike on his blog, Twitter or Facebook.


When I first started urban gardening and growing my own food in the Spring of 2009, I was living on the fourth floor of an apartment building in New York City. As you would imagine, I didn’t have much land or space to grow.

So I turned my 2×3 fire escape into a fire escape garden. I was able to grow cherry tomatoes, lettuces, peppers and a variety of herbs all while maintaining the integrity of the fire escape.

In April of 2010, I moved my life and garden to the left side of the country to Los Angeles. In comparison to my fire escape, the space I have is huge. It’s a 13×4 balcony garden.

How have I been able to grow my own food despite having little space?

I’ve been repurposing old materials to make my own containers. I’ve been building self-watering planters from 5-gallon food grade buckets and hanging planters from soda bottles.

Self-Watering Planters

It’s easy to build a self watering planter and cheap as well. It’ll cost around $5.00 or less.

A self-watering container is made up of two containers. The reservoir and the planting containers.

Inside of the reservoir container a wicking basket is placed. I usually use a half pound deli container that has holes drilled around it.

Here is a video of how to make your own self watering container:

For complete instructions, you can check out the four different ways to build a self-watering planter.

Soda Bottle Hanging Planters

The other way that I was able to make the most of the limited space that I had on my fire escape was to use the hand rails. By using 2-liter soda bottles, I was able to line the railings with about 10 soda bottles to grow my own herbs.

The bottom portion of the bottle was cut-off and holes were punched to hang the planters from the railings. A small hole was drilled into the cap to allow for drainage.

Here’s a more in depth instructions on how to make your own soda bottle hanging planter.

These are two simple to make and viable solutions for small space gardening. Regardless of how little space you have, you can grow some of your own food. Growing one herb or vegetable will make a difference for you and for the environment.

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