Saturday, April 07, 2012

Self Watering Container

The sky today is covered and it is rather cold outside. (Don't tell anyone, but I saw a few snow flakes...) eeek! But that was not going to stop me from doing garden-related projects in preparation for warmer days.

Self-watering containers can be a real help when trying to grow vegetables in pots. Most vegetable plants need a constant water supply and can become very demanding during the hot summer days. (Which, I'm afraid, partly explains my previous years failures). Self-watering containers allow for a bigger gap between watering times and give a more constant and consistent water supply. This, in turns, leads (hopefully) to healthier growth and ultimately, delicious fresh home grown vegetables.

However, such containers can be quite costly to buy ready-made. Luckily, there are ways to make your own and it's not even that difficult! I tried this project for the first time today and am quite happy with the result.

Here's how to build such a container. (Base instructions from the book "Incredible vegetables from self-watering containers" by Edward C. Smith)

I used:

- A BIG plant container
- An old paint bucket bottom that fits nicely in the plant container
- Fine plastic mesh (small holes)
- Metal wire
- Plastic pipe (3cm in diameter)
- A saw for cutting plastic
- A metal cutter
- A Dremel tool
- a wood stick longer than the height of the big container

1. I cut out the bucket so I would only keep the bottom of it. This will be the water container. I then covered it with plastic mesh. I secured the mesh with metal wire.

Bucket bottom covered with plastic mesh

 2. I cut two pieces of plastic pipe. The small one is just a little taller than the height of the water container. The tall one is exactly the height of my plant container. I drilled a few holes at the base of each pipe. The small pipe will allow water to seep up to the soil from the water container. I will be able to refill that container through the long pipe.

A few holes at the bottom of each pipe

3. I cut out two holes in the mesh, so I could place the pipes. The short pipe should be towards the middle, the long pipe should be closer to the edge. I then took my wood stick and marked the height of the container. This will be my water gauge. 

Simple water gauge

 4. I placed the water container in the plant container and filled with soil, making sure to fill the small pipe, to allow water to seep up. And voila! I have my first self watering container, and I made it myself! :)

The hardest part of the project was actually to cut out the paint bucket. The rest was a breeze, and I am already planning to turn another one of my plant containers into a self-watering one. 

I am very much looking forward to the real test this summer, and hoping for a nice little harvest. :)

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