Thursday, June 25, 2009

How I make SWP's- Self watering Planters

A few have commented on my SWP's, and a few more have sent me emails askinf how I make them. Well luckily I had one more Pepper to transplant so I needed to make one. The actual idea comes from Gary Ibsen's Tomatofest website, where they are called EarthTainers™. He and his friend Ray,(the original inventor of the EarthTainer™) ask that if you use their design that you simply make a donation to Feed the Children. Since I basically use the same directions- no problem. I just wanted a free or cheaper way of making the SWP's instead of buying roughneck totes to make them. Cheap Veggie Gardner should appreciate this stinginess thriftiness.
Anyway if you don't want to look at the videos, here is how I make SWP's
First I get 2 buckets in this case a 5 gallon and a 3 gallon bucket. You can get these from restaurant type places- just ask! (Thanks Wah Kue Café!)
Then in one bucket cut a hole big enough for a plastic planter or a tomato can to fit in this case I am using a galvanized steel planter I had laying around. If you have access to hole saws this is easy. Or use a jig saw. A jab saw or drywall saw will work as well, This time I used a jigsaw.

Then make a hole towards the side of the same bucket big enough to fit a piece of PVC Tubing through.

Then drill some holes in your tomato can or planter.
Most buckets will fit together leaving about 2" of room between the two buckets- I don't have to worry here as I am using a 3 gallon and a 5 gallon This is good as the bucket will have some room between the upper bucket –or planter and the 2nd bucket or “reservoir”. If it doesn’t HAve this lip or the top bucket goes all the way down simply insert a brick or a couple of rocks in the bottom bucket to raise the top bucket.
That done, drill a hole in the bottom bucket, taking note where the top bucket’s bottom is. Drill the hole just below the bottom of the top bucket. Put the PVC tubing in the hole you made for it.
. . Now fill it with about two cups of soil into your tomato can/planter, fill with water.
Fill the rest of the top bucket with soil and make sure to water a bit between layers of soil or compost. Until it is full and wet. Some times I rip up old t-shirts and make a “wick” throughout the planter. But I have seen no evidence yet in the planters I have done this to that it is any better than letting the soil “wick” the planters. Then plant your plant or seeds in it. When watering fill the bottom bucket through the PVC tube until water comes out the drain hole you drilled. You now have a Self watering planter! Very nice if your forget for a day to water or you go out of town for a weekend. Saves on water as well. If you like you can cut the lid to the bucket, leaving only a ring, then take a garbage bag or you can use a plastic shopping bag put over the bucket and snap your ring on- works as a mulch cover!


Chile said...

Pretty cool. If I try it, though, I hope it works better than the upside-down tomato planter. That was a bust. :(

Robj98168 said...

Chile- I can't believe the pop bottle planter did not work for you- they are working here fine or as well as the topsy turvy planter I had last year! I find a lot of the problems with upside down planters is the type of tomato used. I am of the beleif that a type like "Robin" or a window box roma or tumbler will do better in an upside down planter than say early girl or brandywine.

drip irrigation systems said...

n-i-c-e! built an homemade irrigtion system and saving money. thank you for the clearly instructions!