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Naturopathica

Monday, January 14, 2008

DIY Container Watering System: No Need to Water Plants for Weeks!

Last month, I went on a 3 week vacation. I have never left my plants alone for that long so I was a little worried they would die while I was gone. I transferred a bulk of my seedlings to a friend's backyard, and saved a few to test out a homemade greenhouse & drip system combo I had in mind. My experiment worked out beautifully! I returned to find all of my plants visibly taller, fuller and happy.

Ironically, a majority of the seedlings I had transferred to my friend's backyard died. The area I planted the seedlings in flooded, and the poor things were submerged under 3-inches of rainfall. Fortunately, the roma tomato, red bell pepper, bush bean and habanero I planted in her organic garden survived.

This system worked so well, I plan on using this system year-round. It is very simple to make, virtually free to create, and best of all I can literally go weeks without watering my garden!

DIY Container Watering System
  • Materials:
    • Large Plastic Ziploc Bag or Other Plastic Bag
    • Empty Water Bottle with Cap
    • Thumbtack (or some object that can puncture a water bottle)
    • Pen
    • Duct Tape or Rubber Bands*
    • Bamboo Stakes*

  • Directions:
    1. Allow yourself at least one to two days prior to departure to setup and adjust your watering system.
    2. Water your plant(s) thoroughly.
    3. Take the thumbtack and stick it through the bottom of the empty water bottle to create a small hole. You can alternatively puncture the flimsier side wall, but make the hole near the bottom of the bottle. See Fig 2.

    4. Fig 1

      Fig 2
    5. Fill up the water bottle with water. At this point, you will see the water freely spilling out of the hole. See Fig 5. Replace the water bottle cap, and tighten the cap until the water is just slowly dripping out of the hole. See Fig 6.
    6. Place the water bottle right next to your plant. Mark the water level with a pen. See Fig 3.

    7. Red Bell Pepper Seedling

      Fig 3

    8. Create a tent over plant with the plastic bag. Make sure the plant leaves are not touching the plastic bag. If you are leaving your plants alone for a long time, make sure there is enough room at top to accommodate new plant growth. See Fig 4.

      Fig 4
    9. Check and Adjust your System. Check on the plants the next day to see how much water was released. You will probably find that some bottles released water at faster rates than others. I tinkered with my system so that no more than an 1/8 of the water was absorbed a day. Adjust the release of water to your liking. You can loosen the cap to increase the water flow. Or you can tighten the cap to decrease water flow. The make-shift greenhouse (i.e., the plastic tent) will help conserve the moisture. See Photo.

Fig 5

Fig 6


(*) You can use bamboo stakes, duct tape or rubber bands to help create the tent. If you have a standard 6" terracotta pot and a small plant, then just use the large ziploc bags. The bag is stiff, sturdy, and fits snuggly over the lid of the pot.

11 comments:

dreamcatcher said...

Thats a great idea,thanks for your help.......much appreciated

drip irrigation systems said...

thank you for sharing with us your knowledge. i am definitly gonna try it at my garden!

Anonymous said...

is the ziploc bag/artificial greenhouse necessary? or will it still work without?

Lina said...

Hi you guys. :) The water will still drip into the soil; however, the plastic bag prevents the water from evaporating too quickly. If you are going to be away for more than a week in the winter, I would definitely use the plastic bag.

Anonymous said...

Genius. Thank you.
If the bag isn't big enough, put the pot in the plastic bag and tie the handles around the base of the tree.
If you need drainage at the bottom of the pot, just cut the bottom of the bag off.

Lina said...

:) Sounds great! I'm glad it's working out for you. :)

Anonymous said...

There are many many water bottle instructions online for watering plants but this one is by far the best one. Great job!! Thank you

Anonymous said...

There are many water bottle plant watering systems online. This one is by far the best one. Great Job!! Thank you

Lina said...

Thank you! I am so happy that you have found this helpful! Happy gardening! :)

Anonymous said...

How about if you have to leave for 6 weeks ? Any suggestions? My plants are in a container and growing big. It's mostly vegetables. Bok choy spinach basil lettuce kale collards mint sage rosemary chives oregano thyme dill. Thanks.

jerry said...

Lots of great tips for saving water. Thanks for sharing all of them!