1960 Aletha Ln #3, Vacaville, CA
I am in the process of moving and I am just not prepared to do this anytime soon. I moved the date to 2014, but that is just a place holder.
"Self-watering" is a misnomer. What I am talking about is a gardening container with a built in reservoir. This is especially helpful for those hot dry Vacaville summers. I did a couple this past winter, and those plants did much better than my normal container plants. You can also use them indoors, and they are very helpful if you forget to water your poor, poor plants once in a while like me. Shame on me!
First, you might want to look at this to get the idea. Although there are simpler designs, this will get you in the ballpark, or should I say in the garden, ha, ha:
You will need to bring:
1) Your own container to plant in. Anything from 1 to 20 gallons depending what you are planting. I say a 5 gallon bucket is good for one tomato plant. You can get cheap beer/soda coolers at the Opportunity House thrift store in Vacaville for $3-$5, or the plastic 20 gal tub they sell at Target for $5-$7 or a 5 gal bucket laying around the house is great too as long as it wasn't filled with chemicals. I prefer to go as cheap or free as I can.
2) Something to keep the water and the soil mostly separate. It could be the lid of the big container that we will drill holes into, or smaller containers for the reservoir. I use a few one gallon jugs for the reservoir inside my 20 gallon tub from Target, and a bowl sized piece of old Tupperware inside my 1-2 gallon container. You can use 2-liter soda bottles, or the 1 gal plastic rectangular water containers/jugs work great. The idea is you will want to line the bottom of your big container with the smaller ones, which will take up approximately 1/4 of the volume. The soil sits on top of the smaller containers. The small containers hold water but keep most of the dirt and the roots of the plants out of the water. The more you bring the more options you have, but PLEASE don't spend a lot of money on these :)
3) A plastic tube that is roughly 2-3 inches in diameter or I use a few old 16.9oz plastic water bottles that I cut the bottoms off and duct tape together. This "tube" will be used to get water from top of the dirt down into the reservoir.
4) Duct tape. (I will have extra if you forget).
5) A portable drill, optional, if you have one. We want to drill holes, NOT on the bottom, but on the side a few inches up from the bottom, level with the inner containers.
6) NO need to bring dirt/topsoil, no sense in dragging 50 pounds of dirt around. Fill them up with dirt and plants when you get home. (But if you really feel you need to bring soil and plants I won't stop you.)
Bring at least one big container, or two or three if you'd like to make more and several smaller reservoir containers for each big container, and/or the lid of the big container if it has one. Try to get as much free/recycled/re-used containers as you can. You get a gold star for dumpster diving. Anyone up for the challenge to see who can build one for free?
Ok I feel my explanation is obtuse so here are some more pics:
Though this design uses a "wick" container, we can choose to build ours with or without. There are many ways to do this, so I will try to come up with at least a couple of options, though some will depend on what containers you bring.
This is an exercise in creativity not a recipe, so if you don't bring the "right" stuff, either you might be able to trade with someone else, or I should have a few extra things. But at very least you should be able to home with the knowledge of how to build one. If you are not sure what to bring just go with your gut and don't worry... this is all for fun.