View Full Version : Self watering containers

09-28-2011, 11:33 AM
Trees that I can't legaly ( or safley )cut down are really shading our garden :exasper:

So this spring my better half looked into the "earth boxes" She found a bunch of sites online for how to make your own. And we decided next to the house would be a good sunny spot for growing stuff and by not having to till up the clay soil we have, the Self Watering Containers ( here after called SWC ) sounded like something worth a try.

Basic princibles of the SWC :

Water resevor for bottom 5 - 6 inches of the bin.
A "wicking " area that is filled with potting mix .
Rest of bin is filled with the same potting mix.
Justin Case you don't see a pattern POTTING MIX .
Reason for buying a big bag of potting mix is because it will actually wick the water up out of the resevor and all the way up to the roots of the plants.
A tube sticks out the top of the container , that is where you add water ,goes all the way to the bottom ( water resevor ) .
Hole drilled on each side of the box near the top of the water res prevents over watering so your plants cannot get over watered.
Plastic to cover the dirt ( held in place by the lid ) keeps the evaporation down a lot.

She found a 3 pack of bins for @ 10 bucks , we had one empty one about the same size so we went ahead . We had enough for 2 boxes ( 2 bins make 1 box )

I distilled the 1/2 dozen diy swc places we found and off we went.

Basicly followed this one , but made a few changes based on the other ones I had read.


The things we did differently included :

Having the top of the water resevoir sit on top of the water wicking device for support.
Used a smaller "pond filter" in hers than in the link , mine was just a plastic paint bucket ( from home dumpo maybe 1/2 gallon with a bunch of 1/4 holes drilled thru the sides .
Skipped the tube for overflow , water runs out the drilled hole just fine.
Lined my bucket with the holes with landscape fabric to keep the potting mix from washing thru the 1/4" holes into the water resevor.
Landscape fabric over the top of the water resevor for the same reason.

The pics I have of ours :

http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f59/littlelou66/249573_1896973938658_1070881350_2105798_7172051_n. jpg

http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f59/littlelou66/229393_1896974058661_1070881350_2105799_1324108_n. jpg

http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f59/littlelou66/247988_1896974138663_1070881350_2105800_32065_n.jp g

http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f59/littlelou66/248572_1903320697323_1070881350_2115881_6999502_n. jpg

09-28-2011, 12:03 PM
Thanks you! We're sold on this for next spring!

09-28-2011, 12:42 PM
The few other things I can add are :

A big spade wood drilling bit that matches your fill tube pipe diameter works great.

Tin snips , I have a few from days gone by, are safer and better at cutting the plastic than a utility knife. A fair sized spade bit makes a good starter hole for the cut outs.

The potting mix I think is important. Not the stuff with the water holding beads either , just the 2 c/f bags of straight potting mix.

May be called self watering , and you can't over water them , but the plants do still get thirsty . When they were growing good a gallon or two twice a day .

The extra nutrition for tomatoes and such I don't have any first hand knowledge of , but it seems like a pile of something in the soil does good for feeding them thru the season.

I know I forgot some stuff , but hopefully others may chime in , and as allways , check out a bunch of places and make your choices that work best for what you want to do. :msn-wink:

09-28-2011, 01:23 PM
So how do you keep from drowning them?

I wonder how they would do in the Oklahoma heat.

09-28-2011, 01:42 PM
The drain hole tells you when it's full and drains excess water. (You can see water draining out of the right side container in the pic above)

I'll let you know how they work in OK next season. :msn-wink: I hd a buddy that had four Earthboxes in HI and they did wonderfully, I know it isn't as hot there but intense sun on a daily basis is pretty rough on plants too.

09-28-2011, 01:58 PM
Yeah, I would be more concerned about the soil temp here than anything else.

09-28-2011, 03:10 PM
Yep , maybe a white sheet or something similar covering the sides of the bin itself to off set the heat from the sun a lil. Or maybe just spray paint the outside of the boxes white if you are in a too hot and sunny place ??
We don't get too much of that here in upstate ny :msn-wink:
Hit a couple of hot days ( over 90f ) when the plants were flowering , couple saw horses and a couple boards and an old sheet helped keep the flowers from dropping off .


Butt Lover's
09-28-2011, 03:57 PM
Great build...gonna try this next summer!

09-28-2011, 09:24 PM
I would try it but I would feel like I was neglecting the 2500 sq ft of garden space I have.

I have been composting 2 truckloads of shredded tree trimmings all summer long to supplement the soil.

09-30-2011, 02:27 PM
I would try it but I would feel like I was neglecting the 2500 sq ft of garden space I have.

I have been composting 2 truckloads of shredded tree trimmings all summer long to supplement the soil.

Well , ya think ???????:msn-wink:

These work great for folks that don't have a nice sunny 50' x 50' chunk of land that , gets sun, they can till , or have the time to work.