Janice's Blog

DIY Self-watering containers

I had a few cucumber and squash seedlings that were leftover after I put things into the garden.  Not wanting to toss them out, I was looking around the yard the other day for prospective spots to put them, and came across a stretch by our gate to the back yard that looked like a good spot.  Our back yard is fenced with deer fence, so we get to eat the veggies (as opposed to the deer!), and our 2 Shiba Inus can roam free.  The fencing in this spot looked like it would make a perfect climbing spot for cucumbers and squash.  The downside, however, is there is no water running to that spot on a daily basis.
...Self-watering containers to the rescue!
These are pretty easy to build (I used these instructions).  I had a couple of these bins in the crawl space, and got a couple more on sale at our local home store.  The plans I used take 2 bins for each container, one of which is cut off short to create a separation between the water on the bottom, and the roots of the plant (held a little bit above the level of the water for aeration).  The black tube is the filler, and with this size container, they only need to be filled about once per week.   They get nice and warm in the sun, which the squash, melons and cucumbers will love.  The other step I haven't done yet is to put some mulch down on the top to prevent water evaporating.  These would also be great for growing on a patio or balcony.  They do get heavy though, so make sure you decide where you want them before you fill with soil and water! 

These bins are UV treated, so should last a few years provided they come in during the winter.  The pipe I used is ABS tubing like you use in your home plumbing (Don't use PVC as it leaches nasty stuff into the water).

Even the leftover bin tops will go to good use.  With the inner portion of the lid cut out, and filled with greenhouse plastic, they will make great mobile cold-frames I can put on smaller portions of the garden when it starts to get chilly.

... oh, and the other benefit?  pill bugs can't climb that high!