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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Self Irrigated Planter

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Post  elliephant 4/15/2011, 4:34 pm

So, I've been sitting on these pictures until I was satisfied that the idea was working. Well, now I am. I put a couple of leftover tomato starts that weren't doing too well into anexperimental planter made with recyclables, as seen on Inside Urban Green, along with a couple of pepper plants.
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I'll get out later and take pictures of how it looks today. You can see a big difference in the tomato leaves from before I transplanted it and after. Right now they are the happiest looking tomato leaves I've got...not showing the stress that the others are on this 97 degree day. I top off the water once a week and could probably go more often. The one problem I had was one time when I added water I added too much and I think the drain is at a bit of an upward angle Embarassed so everything kinda started floating up and stretching the mylar cover until I pushed down on the drain a bit and let some water out.

I love the fact that I could do with with "found" materials. Even the big plastic storage tub I got at a Goodwill Bargain Barn for 75 cents. And my plants are LOVING the unlimited water.
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Post  dizzygardener 4/15/2011, 5:02 pm

Maybe I'm just running a bit slower today than usual, but I don't understand how it works... :scratch:
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Post  Goosegirl 4/15/2011, 7:50 pm

Love it! I have seen many sets of instructions for homemade 'earth boxes' but they were all way more complicated than I was willing to get. THIS, however, is SO SIMPLE!!! Definitely going to try one - after I get the SFG's set up, of course! Very Happy

GG

PS - bookmarked the site so I can find it later when I want to make a few!


Last edited by Goosegirl on 4/15/2011, 7:56 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added ps)
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Post  elliephant 4/15/2011, 8:17 pm

@dizzygardener wrote:Maybe I'm just running a bit slower today than usual, but I don't understand how it works... :scratch:

Did you look at the Inside Urban Green link? They explained it better than I can, so I just put the link. The MM gets into the nooks and crannies between the milk jugs and such and wicks up that way. Is that the part you were confused about?

I definitely found this to be easier (and cheaper) than other methods I've seen and am excited that it actually works!
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Post  dizzygardener 4/15/2011, 8:44 pm

No, not really. The part I'm confused about is where the water goes when you pour it in and how it ends up in the bottles without them being connected. :?:
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Post  Goosegirl 4/15/2011, 9:00 pm

@dizzygardener wrote:No, not really. The part I'm confused about is where the water goes when you pour it in and how it ends up in the bottles without them being connected. :?:

If I understand the concept right, it combines lots of holes in the right spots on the jugs (and the big slit in the bottom of them) and the 'path of least resistance' principle! The overabundance of water will naturally take the easy path and flow through the soil medium and pool down into the jugs, then by wicking action as the soil needs more water, the jugs will slowly get sucked dry by the soil surrounding them. You just need to give it a really good flood now and then to keep the jugs filled and let the sucking circle take over!


Last edited by Goosegirl on 4/15/2011, 9:06 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Making it make more sense - Friday brain.....)
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Post  Barkie 4/16/2011, 1:42 am

@dizzygardener wrote:Maybe I'm just running a bit slower today than usual, but I don't understand how it works... :scratch:

You are ok! I read it as Self IRRITATED Planter. My excuse is it's 6.40am here and I'm not on my second coffee yet.
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Post  Goosegirl 4/16/2011, 6:24 am

@Barkie wrote:
@dizzygardener wrote:Maybe I'm just running a bit slower today than usual, but I don't understand how it works... :scratch:

You are ok! I read it as Self IRRITATED Planter. My excuse is it's 6.40am here and I'm not on my second coffee yet.

I like that! That is exactly how I FELT about all the different (read: TOO COMPLICATED) instructions I had read about making your own, until this link!
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Self Irrigated Planter Empty How can this be done with a 5 gallon bucket and one milk jug?

Post  jymarino 5/9/2011, 2:31 pm

I like this concept a lot but I'm having trouble understanding how to make it work. Is the water directed right into the milk jugs and then the soil wicks it up from the bottom? How do you prevent an overflow of water? I have 5 gallon buckets and thought I'd use one milk jug. Is that enough? I have seen a lot of other methods which are far more complicated so if I can do this it would be great. Thanks!
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Post  Nonna.PapaVino 5/9/2011, 3:03 pm

This youtube explanation of a similar self-wicking planter makes lots of sense to me:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3INoLKg555w&feature=related The lady explaining it uses a deep Rubbermaid tub, bottled water jugs like you get at WalMart, and some small personal water bottles. Makes it look almost too easy.
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Post  jymarino 5/9/2011, 3:45 pm

I did see that video although she doesn't mention how far up she put the drain holes. Another site had recommended putting a piece of tubing in the overflow hole to prevent dirt from clogging it. I am a very visual learner so anything with pictures always helps. Who knows, maybe I'll be the one to figure out how to do this in a 5 gallon tub, w/o cutting up another one. I'll take pictures as I go in case it does work out.
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Post  Menditha 5/10/2011, 12:11 am

Thanks tons for sharing this! What a cool idea!
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Post  elliephant 5/10/2011, 12:12 am

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Post  Tril 5/10/2011, 8:00 am

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One of the reasons I hesitated to jump into SFG is the issue of watering it... I'm not home a lot during the summer (we have two camps so most weekends are away and I like stay there alone during the week). Our youngest son is moving home for the summer so I'm hopeful he'll help with the watering. BUT, these tote gardens sound very promising!!! I may even try them at camp! How fun to have fresh veggies there... I'm thinking salad stuff. Smile

Off to Goodwill.... and write a note to save the milk jugs.

I love this forum!!! Self Irrigated Planter 993580
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Post  jayjaym 5/10/2011, 8:31 am

This gave me the idea to make a smaller version in my hanging baskets. It's pretty dry around here, and I've always had a problem with keeping them watered. I sealed the drainage holes at the bottom, created a small reservoir using a cut up milk jug, drilled some new drainage holes in the side at the height of the reservoir, and had some pvc laying around for the fill pipe.


If I don't wind up completely drowning the flowers I put in, I should have less problems with them getting to dry, and have less nutrient loss from water drainage. Fingers crossed.
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Post  GlassHen 5/10/2011, 8:42 am

@jayjaym wrote:This gave me the idea to make a smaller version in my hanging baskets.

Brilliant! I've always been hesitent on using my hanging baskets since I know I wouldn't get around to watering them as often as I should and you just solved this problem for me!
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Post  Menditha 5/11/2011, 4:43 pm

jayjaym, do you mind sharing what you used to seal the drainage holes in your hanging baskets? I was trying to figure out how to do the same thing with some of my hanging baskets and flower pots, but I haven't come up with brilliant ideas yet. Would caulk work? I wonder if the holes in my pots are too big for just caulk.
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Post  jayjaym 5/12/2011, 9:45 am

I trimmed a piece from the milk jug to fit the hole, and hot glued it in place on the top and bottom of the hole. I've had them hanging up for a couple days now, and they haven't leaked yet.
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Post  Menditha 5/12/2011, 11:12 am

Now why couldn't I think of something like that? Thanks a million!
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