In this article, I’ll discuss DIY self-watering planters for your tomatoes.
If you are one of them, that is, you are too busy to maintain your garden then the thing you should do is use self-watering planters.
Does it sound like some advanced technology? The fact is self-watering planters do not need high technology at all. They are very simple, but have a huge function to reduce the workload of every gardener.
The principle of DIY self-watering pot is the same as the reservoir you get from a store to provide water under the soil.
There is a variety of materials you can use for DIY self-watering pot such as a soda pop bottle as a small planter, wooden box, container or foam box.
How to make self-watering planters on your own can be easy. What you need is to provide a small space at the bottom of your planter.
You can use plastic as a lid, for example, a plastic bowl you no longer use. Connect it to a tube and make small holes for roots
If the reason you have not jumped on the self-watering planter craze is the containers are not very attractive, the containers by Lechuza just might make you a fan.
Yes, the planters are not inexpensive but their aesthetic approach to self-watering containers makes them worth the investment it looks matter to you. The planters are stylish, modern and come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.
The earthbox is arguably the most popular self-watering planter brand on the market. These containers have been around since 1994 and were developed by commercial farmers.
I have seen earthbox used at school gardens, on rooftop farms, balcony gardens and at the smart home at the museum of science and industry in Chicago. Take a look at Deanna’s earthboxphoto journal for an idea of what season of gardening in an earthbox looks like.
The growbox by the garden patch is very similar to the earthbox. The biggest difference between the two is that the growbox’s water reservoir is filled through an opening in the front of the container.
Smaller buckets would be fine for herbs and shallow-rooted vegetables. Make sure you are using food-safe plastic buckets. You can source food safe buckets from neighborhood restaurants supply stores
The DIY self-watering planter style most closely resembles the earthbox and Grow box listed above. The planter is made out of two plastic totes and a section of PVC pipe.
Its size and resemblance to a raised bed make it a lot more versatile in terms of what you can grow in it compared to the self-watering bucket planter. One of the favorite uses for this version of the planter is growing corn.
Here you can use a bottle to water your planters. All you need to do is to fill the bottle with water. Make sure that there is a small hole in the bottle small enough so water flows slowly. Put then the bottle in your pot with the hole at the bottom.
This is a very simple method as you need almost no effort to make it but you need to pay attention to how much water flows at a time. Make sure the amount of water flows to your pot each cycle is not too much or too little.
Self-watering planters pot reservoir
If you think placing a bottle on your pot is not aesthetically pleasing, you can try making a planter with a reservoir because it will be invincible.
The idea of a reservoir is to provide water supply to your planters. You can buy the planter reservoir available on many gardening stores. The roots of the plants will absorb the water from the reservoir, to make it work, do the following steps
- Place the reservoir at the bottom of the pot.
- Put the lid on top of the reservoir. The lid is also available in the store. It has a hole for a tube and a smaller hole for roots to absorb the water.
- Put the tube vertically. Make sure it fits perfectly with the tube hole.
- Put soil and fertilizer on top of the lid. Plant your herbs, vegetables and or flowers on it.
- Fill the reservoir by pouring the water into the tube. You can use a stick to measure whether the reservoir has enough water or not. Or you can measure the water you pour into the reservoir every day. Usually, there is a cap on top of the tube. Close the cap after you finish pouring water. If the surface of your pot is filled with the leaves of vegetables or herbs, make the tube visible before you start pouring water.
So why use self-watering planters?
- The biggest advantage of container gardening with self-watering planters is the conservation of water. I find I use less water because I am irrigating just enough to keep the reservoirs water level consistent. With a traditional container, a lot of water is lost through the drainage hole before the soil has been saturated.
- The use of capillary action to moisten the soil also cuts back on diseases because you are adding water directly into the reservoir and not splashing it on the leaves or soil and creating a hospitable environment for powdery mildew.
- Provided you keep the reservoir consistently filled, crops like tomatoes may not split and crack nearly as often compared to being planted in a traditional container. Cracked and split tomatoes are just aesthetically unpleasant but there is nothing more annoying than when it happens and you can trace it back to the one day during the growing season when you did not water enough or watered too much.
- Eliminating the guesswork of when to water makes food production easier for new and young vegetable gardeners. Whether they are homemade or commercial self-watering containers, they are easily deployed to create food systems and container gardens in areas in need.
- Two five-gallon paint buckets
- A 1-quart paint mixing container
- A piece of one and a half PVC pipe
- A dowel
- A drill
- To start, place one five-gallon paint bucket inside the other. Drill a small hole in the bottom bucket just below the base of the top bucket. This is your overflow port which will help keep your self-watering planter from becoming waterlogged after heavy rain.
- Next, drill four small holes from top to bottom along one side of the paint mixing container. This will act as your wicking agent to draw water from the bottom container up into the soil in the top container
- Now cut a hole in the middle of the bottom of the top bucket just enough to place your paint mixing/wicking container into. You will want the container to be about half above and half below the base of that bucket.
- Next, drill some holes in the bottom of the inside or top bucket to allow excess water to drain out of the soil and into the water reservoir and one slightly larger hole to hold your cut PVC pipe in place.
- Cut your PVC pipe and your dowel just long enough to reach from the base of the bottom bucket to the top of the top bucket. The PVC pipe is going to allow you to fill your self-watering planter when there is no rain in the forecast The dowel will float and raise when the water is sufficient and fall inside the PVC pipe when it is not so there is no guessing about when your plants need water.
- You will want to place a layer of cheesecloth or coffee filters over these holes before filling your planter with soil to keep the soil from getting through the holes into the water reservoir.
Tomato success kit by gardener’s supply
A self-watering tomato planter all but takes away the main obstacle to growing tomatoes successfully. One of the best watering tomato planters for home gardeners is the Tomato success kit by gardener’s supply. why is a self-watering tomato planter beneficial?
It is common for tomatoes grown in pots to suffer from drought and drown cycle. Their roots dry out in the heat of the summer. But when watered too often or without adequate drainage, they can be flooded quickly. Watering is the single most significant factor to contain tomato stress.
How a self-watering planter works
A self-watering tomato planter helps moderate that stress and make consistent water available to plants. The planter does not dry out every day.
It neither forget to water nor does it over water. If you grow tomatoes in a self-watering planter, you can go away for a weekend or even on vacation and not worry about your plants.
A self-watering tomato planter is especially helpful if you have poor soil quality if you live in the desert or rocky areas for instance because you use quality potting mix in the planter. A self-watering planter has other advantages.
Planters can be moved from place to place if there is too much sun too little sun, cold, frost or severe weather in the forecast. You can keep planters on your patio or deck away from deer and rabbits.
Two features are very important for a self-watering planter:
- The planter itself should be large enough to sustain a tomato root system at least 5 gallons larger if possible.
- The planter should have a significant water reservoir to keep plants from drying out and to allow roots to breathe rather than be choked by overwatering.
The tomato success kit includes everything you need to grow tomatoes in containers, except tomato seedlings the planter, 40 quarts of self-watering container mix, 1-pound organic fertilizer and support cage with 8-foot legs and clips.
It’s a good thing seedling are not included you will want to choose the best container tomato varieties appropriate for your climate. Putting the planter together is quick and easy. Clear directions for assembly are included.
With a volume of 10 gallons, the planter is large enough to easily sustain a tomato plant or two. It is twice as large as needed to grow tomatoes successfully. The planter has a built-in water reservoir in its base.
The reservoir is separated from the planter’s main body by a reservoir platform with channels. Water moves up from the reservoir through the channels to the main body of the planter when the planter mix is dry.
When you set up your planter, make sure you press a few inches of pre-moistened planting mix through the channel.
The moistened mix wicks water up into the main body of the planter. The moisture will continue to move upwards only as long as the soil is dry. The side of the planter has a fill hole and a cover.
Water the planters through the fill hole using a garden hose. This way you will avoid watering the tomato plant directly which prevents spreading diseases.
The fill hole has a cover that keeps out mosquitoes You will need to refill the water reservoir around once or twice a week.
Check your planter soil and the water gauge each day to see if it is dry. Spread a layer of red plastic over the surface of the planter to repel excess water or place the planter under cover when the forecast is for a downpour.