Professor and botanist Dr. Willem Van Cotthem decided the summer of 2011 would be a season for experimentation.

There are many people in the world who have presented some excellent suggestions for how to sustainably and cost-effectively feed a family. Van Cotthem is one of them, and we’ve had the pleasure of watching his concept come to life from the ground up–literally! His unique solution: bottle tower gardens. The Belgium professor documented his project over the course of the year to not only share his results (which, we must say, were quite remarkable) but also as a means of sharing his technique with internet users around the globe. He ensures a bottle tower garden can prosper anywhere in the world, and–great news–you don’t need a lot of space to construct one!

The fun began on July 1, 2011, and it wasn’t long before Van Cotthem spotted progress.

By August, his bell pepper plant was coming in beautifully. Van Cotthem utilized an old kennel to build his bottle tower garden, but the edge of any fence or balcony would work just as well. At the top of each tower is a bottle with the bottom cut out. This is simply called a “filling bottle,” and its purpose is to collect rainwater, which will then filter through the other soil-and-seed-filled bottles.

Watch Van Cotthem’s garden sprout to life!

As you’ll see in this fascinating time-lapse video, Van Cotthem’s bottle tower garden was a savory success! By the summer of 2012, his thriving garden contained just about every herb and veggie you could ever want. There was parsley, cauliflower, red beetroot, sweet fennel, different types of lettuce, green and red chicory, celery, rosemary, sage, basil, chives, stevia, lemon balm, and more. During the second summer, he even managed to implement drip irrigation. Does this technique have the staying power to alleviate malnutrition? As he noted at the end of the video, “It’s worth a try!”