Watering plants in containers is very different than watering plants planted in the ground. First you have less soil volume in a container and second the soil itself is much different. Overall you will need to pay more attention to your container garden plants because they are going to dry out faster. One way to extend the time between watering your containers is to use self watering containers. These containers have a reservoir of water that is absorbed up into the pot where the roots can get the moisture they need. All you have to do is refill the reservoir and that will usually last for several days. As you refill the reservoir excess water will run out the overflow hole and you will not have to worry about overwatering.
You can use self watering containers to grow most any kind of plant, vegetable or flower. The plants that don’t do as well in this type of container would be herbs and succulent planes like cactus that don’t like to be constantly moist. You can buy self watering containers already set up. One that is on the market is call an Earthbox and I have used these with good success. There are other brands that are available at the home improvement stores as well .
If you want to make your own like the one in the picture it is simple to make .
List of items you will need to make a self watering container.
2 Five Gallon Buckets
1 PVC water pipe 1 ” diameter about 2 foot long . Cut to exact length later
1 plastic cup. I used a blue 16 oz solo cup
1 Drill bit 1/4”
1 Hole saw bit 1 1/2” for the PVC pipe
1 Hole saw bit 3″ for the solo cup
Put one bucket inside the other. If you hold it up to the light you should be able to see how far down the inner bucket nests into outer bucket. Hint: white buckets are easier to see through.
Mark the spot just below where the two buckets meet usually between 2 to 3 inches and drill a 1/4 inch hole in the side at that mark in the outer bucket. This is your water overflow and it will tell you when your water reservoir is full.
The buckets don’t nest together all the way to the bottom because the rim of the bucket will stop it from going that far. Different buckets will have different style rims. Check yours out before you purchase. You need at least a 2 inch gap between buckets for a water reservoir.
Have a helper hold your bucket steady while you are are drilling holes.
In the bottom of one bucket use a 3″ hole saw to drill out the center of the bottom of the bucket. The cup will fit into this hole but not go all the way through.
Drill several 1/4 holes in the cup and the bottom of the same bucket that you drilled the hole for the cup.
Over at the side drill a hole for the 1″ pipe to go through the bucket using a 1 and 1/2 inch hole saw. This hole goes in the same bucket that the cup goes in.
Cut the PVC pipe to correct length so that it extends a few inches above the soil and reaches the bottom of the outer bucket when they are inside one another.
Cut the bottom of the PVC pipe at an angle so that it rest on a point on the bottom bucket and will allow water to flow easier into the water reservoir.
Place the bucket with the cup in it inside the other bucket. place your pvc pipe through the hole in the inside bucket and start filling with moist potting soil. Pack the soil firmly in the solo cup first and then fill the rest of the bucket with moist soil until you get within one or two inches of the top of the bucket.
It is important that your potting soil be moist and not dry when you fill your bucket.
Using your PVC pipe fill your water reservoir until you see water coming out the overflow hole.
Your self watering container is ready to plant. Just keep an eye on the water in your reservoir and don’t let it go dry. Depending on the size of your plant and how hot it is the reservoir of water should last 2 to 3 days or more. Enough for a weekend away from your plants.