Creating Your Own Self-Watering Gardening Containers
There are lots of benefits to growing your own food. You can pick the type of vegetables and fruit you want in abundance. You can choose the seed varieties, such as heirloom or organic, and use organic methods if desired. And you can plan food around your growing season so you always have fresh produce available. All of this, however, is a lot of work. Planting, weeding, watering and harvesting are all time-consuming tasks.
You can save some time and energy by making self-watering containers. These containers are set above ground so the soil is warmer and they don"t get as many weeds as other gardens. They also need very little watering -- although the name "self-watering" is a misnomer since some watering is needed.
A self-watering container is easily made from a large storage container with lids. A large Rubbermaid-style container or 5-gallon bucket with fitting lid will work well. Whatever container you choose, be sure that it was not used for anything toxic in its previous life.
Find 6 to 8 little containers that will fit neatly in the bottom of your large container. Coffee cans, yogurt containers or empty plastic plant pots work well. They should be about 4 to 6 inches deep and line up in the bottom of the container. Eight 1-gallon flowerpots will fit neatly inside a 32-gallon plastic bin.
Cut a piece of PVC pipe so that it is taller than your container. Drill holes in the bottom third of the pipe.
Scale the container lid so that it sits snugly on top of the small interior containers. Use a sharp pair of scissors, nippers or a small handsaw to cut the lid to fit. Cut a hole in one corner of the lid. Use one of the small, interior pots to gauge the size of the hole. The hole should open up over the corner pot underneath it. Cut another hole on the opposite corner of the first.
Add a second hole that is wide enough for the PVC pipe to slide through. The location of this hole is not critical, but it works best along the center-edge of one length.
Drill drain holes around the outside edge of the large container, six inches from the bottom.
Set the lid onto of the small interior containers. Slide the PVC pipe through its allotted slot.
Fill the container with potting soil so that the soil sits on the lid. Plant your seeds in the top of the soil. Pour water into through the PVC pipe to fill the reservoir below it. The water will wick up into the soil but the plants' roots will not sit in water. To further preserve moisture, add mulch around the base of the plants once they are established.
Refill the container"s reservoir as needed. This will vary depending on the weather conditions.
You can reuse this self-watering container each year or plant perennials in it for continuous growth.