|Constructing the DIY Self Watering Vegetable Box|
|Here are four self watering veggie boxes thriving on the patio|
I hear too many folk say that they do not have enough room, enough time or enough skill to grow vegetables. I hope this small post on how to make a self watering vegetable box will blow all that out of the water and shift a paradigm.
Planting vegetables in the ground can be a real pain to upkeep. I leave for work before the sun has risen and do not get home until well after sun-down. The only time I can garden is the weekends or on a day off. I do not have any time to water, tend, fertilise or upkeep my vegetables and I most certainly have no time to weed. The perfect answer to this is to make our own self watering veggie boxes.
These self watering vegetable boxes cost me very little as my local Coles and Woolworths are very happy to give me Styrofoam broccoli boxes from the fruit-n-veg department with lids for free whenever I ask for them. It is important that they are not damaged or have even a single small hole.....so remember to inspect them.
Using self watering vegetable boxes means I only have to water them once a week, I never have to weed, I can move them to sunnier positions if I need to, I use less than half the water I would in a traditional in-the-ground veggie plot, I can expand my garden slowly a box a time, my garden is totally contained and manageable, I can fertilise directly through the water reservoir filler tube, I never water from the top thus reducing above ground moisture and reducing pests and mold that relies on moisture, I could use these boxes on an apartment balcony or a sunny inside room too. Those of us renting their homes will find this method fantastic as we do not have dig up the landlord's yard to have a veggie garden and they are super cheap to make...maybe even free depending what we have sitting around in our shed or under the house. Even if we had to buy everything, these boxes will last for many years.
Here is what I do to make a self watering vegetable box - I am super challenged when it comes to being 'handy' and DIYish, so if I can do this then anyone can!
DIY SELF WATERING VEGETABLE BOXES
1. Half fill the box with water to check for leaks - the bottom half of the box must be 100% water tight so it can be a perfect reservoir of water for your plants. Empty the water into a watering can for later use.
2. Cut the Styrofoam lid to fit exactly and firmly inside the box
3. Use three old plastic flower pots (they must be exactly the same height) as your wicks. I usually put four small holes along the base of the pots to ensure good water flow.
4. Cut three equally spaced holes in the Styrofoam lid - make sure they are a little smaller than the tops of the plastic pots so the Styrofoam lid can sit on top of the plastic pots and take the weight of your soil.
5. Cut a tube to act as our filler pipe and position this in one of the corners of the box. Always cut the bottom of this tube at an angle so it allows easy water flow into the reservoir. We will also need to cut a neat hole in the very corner of our lid to accommodate this too.
6. Line the plastic flower pots up across the bottom of the box and then insert the Styrofoam lid. Push down firmly onto the pots then adjust the pots to line up neatly underneath the three holes we have cut in the lid - we do not want soil escaping into the water reservoir, so pay attention to a neat alignment here. Now insert the filler pipe.
7. Fill the three pots (now acting as our wicks) with potting mix and pressing potting mix firmly into the pots. Then fill the remainder of our box with potting mix.
8. Cut an overflow hole in the side of the box half way up to ensure the reservoir never floods.
9. Transplant your seedlings
10. Now add a little extra potting mix to ensure the box is totally full (It will settle a little).
11. Add mulch - I use sugar cane mulch
12. Place in a sunny position - always do this BEFORE watering as we will not be able to lift the box once full of water!
13. Water using a watering can from above until the reservoir completely fills and starts to run out of the overflow hole. This will be the only time we water from above directly into the plants and soil.
14. Water weekly by filling the reservoir using the filler pipe only. I just pop the hose straight into the filler pipe and stop when the water starts to run out the overflow hole - a 30 second job per box every Saturday morning. Strenuous hey?!
HERE IT IS IN PICTURES
|The old plastic flower pots in position|
|The trimmed up lid and filler pipe ready to insert|
|Cutting an overflow hole at the top of the reservoir is vital otherwise|
we will flood our plants and they will die.
The bottom half of the box is water (mine hold approx 16 litres)
and the flower pots full of soil act as wicks
|Filling the pots with potting mix. These will become the wicks|
that draw the water up from the reservoir.
|Fill the rest of the box with potting mix. |
We are ready to transplant now.
|Laying out our seedling to get the spacing correct.|
Red Emperor Beans this time.
|Fill up the box with a little extra|
potting mix then pop mulch on top.
Now we move our box to its final position
|We know the reservoir is full when the overflow hole starts|
to leak water.
|All done and dusted and put next to my other self watering|
vegetable boxes on the patio
|This picture was taken at 6 am this morning with the sun just|
beginning to hit the plants.
It took me 2 minutes in total to water these four boxes
using the hose directly into the filler tubes.
I only have to do this once a week. Big effort hey!?
This is easier than falling off a log folks - I promise. The benefits are manifold too.
Lean in and give it a shot folks.
Take care and stay nice.