Living Off the Grid with Bottle Tower Garden and Backyard Chickens

Dreaming of an off-the-grid life? If yes, then OffGridWorld is paradise found. It has the latest information about living off the grid, sustainable living, solar power, wind power, renewable energy, hydroponics, recycling, DIY projects and more.

The majority of the world’s poor still have no electricity, and they use charcoal or kerosene for lighting. Some innovative breakthroughs enable people in poor and remote areas to light their homes.

Deciwatt a startup company, has created NowLight. It is all-in-one emergency generator, light and power bank. By pulling the cord, it generates electricity. A minute of pulling will generate up to 2 hours of light or enough power for a 15-minute phone call.

Kudos to the people who have conceptualized and realized these truly sustainable and cost-effective ecologically designed lighting systems that benefit the ones that need them most.

Are you a survivor buff? I have good news for you that I’m sure will brighten up your gloomy outlook. Survivor Library has a huge collection of literature dedicated to surviving almost any disaster or just living in the absence of modern technology. Nuclear war? Pandemic? Or just living off the grid? Don’t panic and proceed to their site in a calm and orderly fashion and read the various topics.

My personal idea of a sustainable lifestyle is a place located in a secured gated community and a concrete typhoon-resilient house that is elevated to help avoid floods. The primary water source is rain, collected from the rooftop and stored in a watertight compartment below the house, which is one of the reasons why it is elevated. Deep well with wind powered pump as secondary in case of prolonged El Nino event.

Electricity is mainly solar-based with a diesel generator for backup. The house is surrounded by assorted veggies raised in vertical gardens and properly spaced fruit bearing trees. Goats will be raised to provide milk, along with chickens and ducks for a variable meat source.

Even if you have a limited residential lot you can still pursue gardening through a vertical garden. There are many ways of doing this, but I find the bottle tower a more practical choice. For one, the structure is very compact. You are simply stacking bottles on top of one another and each bottle is planted. You can have as many towers as space allowed. Its possible to have 800 plants in just 3 square meters of available land.

On top of that, it is inexpensive as it is built mainly with recycled water/soda plastic bottles. The design also allows easy watering. You only need to water the topmost bottle and it naturally drips downward.

There are several ways of building a bottle tower. I’ve selected these two videos as they have very good methods.

In this video, the cap is used to keep the top bottle in place making it a more sturdy structure, plus it is using a hose which makes watering even more convenient.

In the video, it is using a trellis to support the tower so it will not fall or collapse. It also incorporates a funnel, a feature I find useful. I can fill it regularly with compost or cow dung, so as the water drips it provides the plants a steady supply of fresh nutrients. I’ll add an empty bottle at the bottom with no holes in the cap to catch any excess water and recycle it.

If done right you can have a beautiful vertical garden like this school project in Israel.

I want to plant mine with veggies and fruit-bearing plants like strawberry. If you get creative enough, bottle towers aren’t limited to outside plots, you can place them indoors too.

What I have in mind, is using a set of self-supporting trellises as a divider between the living room and dining room. The trellis is made of a rust-proof aluminum frame with lots of bottle towers full of beneficial indoor plants. These plants produce a steady supply of cool fresh air. There are varieties that aid air purification by absorbing harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene which are present in paints and cleaning agents. Some species even release scents that help you relax like jasmine and lavender, making them ideal in the bedroom.

You can place an indoor fountain between two bottle towers to provide humidity for the plants and to cool air. To distribute the fresh air around the room, install a ceiling fan on top of the divider. Finally, to mimic sunlight, add an LED grow light on the ceiling fan.

This idea turns the ordinary divider into a natural air conditioner that cools down the house during summer. Or like the guy who placed hanging bottle garden on the windows as shown on the video below.

To protect plants from pests, use safe and homemade pesticides. Use banana fruit or aloe vera as a plant rooting agent.

Try this natural solution to control weeds.

Indoor plants are normally ornamental but as mentioned above plants are more than just decoration. Choose green living, its good.

Even with limited real estate, you can be self-sufficient with meat and eggs by raising chickens in a coop with a tractor. A coop is a shelter where chickens roost and lay eggs, while a tractor is a mesh-enclosed area beside a coop where chickens freely roam. The tractor is moveable.

There are plenty of designs on YouTube and I’ve selected these videos as they have some of the features I wanted.

In the video below, aside from talking about the design, the presenter also shared a lot of useful and practical information.

The coop and tractor height in this is just right. The extra perches in the tractor give the chickens more area to roam and rest. The height also allows sunlight inside.

The portable concept with wheels and handles is a very useful addition. Chickens eat grass, and you can actually use them to check grass overgrowth. Moving them not only provides fresh grass to peck but also new ground to scratch.

The neat coop structure with the nesting area tucked inside, instead of bulging outside, is another likable feature. The door near the nests allows easy access to the eggs and chickens. However, I prefer a coop without the ladder and the floor as the birds can reach the nests by using the perches alone. The width is also limited.

The coop and tractor on this one are the size I’m looking for, but the most notable aspect of the design is the waterer and feeder. The waterer using water nipple is genius; there’s no need to frequently clean it. However, I need to add a water indicator, maybe in the form of a transparent pipe. The feeder can be further improved so it will reduce wastage. A vertical PVC pipe with a 5-way cross pipe at the bottom and a 45-degree elbow at each end would do the trick.

Ahh, it would be nice to realize all these and retire in such a place. I’ll be updating this wish list based on developments.

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