Ok, so I made my first self-watering container, right? Well, its there sitting on the deck with nothing in it. I’m stuck on the dirt!
Before I talk about my dirt dilemma, here are a few shots of my handiwork.
Here’s the inside:
For the cover, I intend to attach a mesh screen to keep the squirrels out.
I’m thinking of affixing the screen to the top using Velcro because I’ll need to adjust the height of the screen depending on what I grow. I can always get stakes to keep the screen off of the plants (I’ve got tons of mesh).
Here’s a quick down and dirty on how I made this masterpiece of a container (it sure won’t win beauty awards):
- Using my husband’s trusty Dremel (I’m beginning to have unnaturally fond feelings towards the Dremel), I cut out the center of the container top. It was easy because this particular container top had an indent, which made the lines easy to follow. If it didn’t have an indent, I’d have to trace the appropriate lines by to create my drainage layer.
- After cutting out the top, I drilled lots of little drainage holes. I also cut out a piece in the center to place my “wicking” pot. In this case, my wicking pot is the bottom of a Poland Springs gallon water container.
- I drilled lots of holes in the wicking pot so it can absorb the water.
- Between the bottom of the container and my drainage layer, I placed two microwave covers (which I got from the Dollar Store). They already had holes in them, but I drilled a few more. The microwave covers are about 3 ½ inches deep so that allows me to keep a little over 3 inches of water in the bottom of the container. Only time will tell if that’s enough.
- I then cut out a small circle in the corner of the drainage layer to fit the “watering tube.” I didn’t want to run back to Home Depot to get a plastic PVC tube, so I scrounged around the house and found two water bottles and a stem from an old solar lighting system that I was about to toss out. I cut off the bottom of the water bottles and duct taped everything together and stuck them in the hole so the water can reach the bottom of the container.
- I drilled two drainage holes on the outside of the container. The holes are 3 ½ inches from the bottom. They’re at the same level as the height of the microwave covers. This way if I get too happy with the watering and pour in 4 to 5 inches of water, it will drain out the side and not allow the roots to get too wet.
I’ve got several other containers I’d like to configure, so I’m hoping to get better as I go along.
Now to My Gardening Dirt
I went to Home Depot and purchased a few bags of potting soil and a bag of dehydrated manure. Since my bokashi (another object of an unnatural affection) won’t be ready for another couple of weeks, I needed to do something to get started. If I don’t do something real soon, I’ll continue to plan until the planting season is over. Ahem…sister Joni, are you hearing this?
After buying the dirt and the manure, I read somewhere online that potting soil isn’t so good for container gardens because it’s hard to keep them moist. Once they get dry, you have a lump of dirt that’s hard to unlump.
Learning by Mistakes
I’m figuring that my self-watering system should do much to keep the dirt moist and hopefully lumping won’t be a concern. Plus, as my bokashi and composts mature, I’ll add them to the soil, which will help to keep it moist.
If it doesn’t, well, I guess I’ll chalk it up to experience and I’ll know what not to do next year. In the meanwhile, knowing that there’s a possibility of clumping, I’ll manage it accordingly.
Next Step…Plant Something…Anything!