Build a Self-Watering Container

Self-watering containers make growing fruits and veggies a breeze and are ideal for gardening in small spaces. Construct your own reliable waterer with a few easily scavenged materials and about an hour’s worth of time.

The Urban Homestead
Unleash the homesteader within! “The Urban Homestead” is brimming with ideas and projects that affirm the simple pleasures of life, even in the heart of a big city. Written by city dwellers for city dwellers, this fun, hands-on guide offers instructions for everything from building a raised garden bed to getting started with chickens to whipping up your own delicious butter, cheese and yogurt.
Self Watering Container
These containers make it easy to grow vegetables in pots. They are ideal for apartment gardening, but are so useful that everyone should consider using them to maximize their growing space.
Self Watering Container Pipe
Step 7: If necessary, cut the pipe that feeds the reservoir to a good length. You want it to poke out of the top of the container for easy watering. Seventeen inches is just about right for this project. Cut one end of the tube on the diagonal, and put this end down in the bucket. The angled end will allow water to flow freely out of the tube and into the reservoir.
Wicking Chamber
Step 6: Attach the wicking chamber to the bottom of the top bucket. This is a very loose affair, consisting of four twist ties. Just drill holes at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions just below the top edge of the cup, and drill corresponding holes near the edge of the large hole you cut in the middle of the bucket. Thread plastic twist ties through these holes to secure the wicking chamber so that it hangs beneath the holey bucket.
Rooftop Garden
Melons grow from homemade self-watering containers on a Chicago rooftop. Using the instructions provided in “The Urban Homestead,” members of the organization Green Roof Growers built these self-watering containers from recycled kosher pickle buckets donated from the Chicago restaurant Vienna Beef.
Hole In Container
Step 3: Cut another hole in the bottom of the same container, anywhere near the outside edge (anywhere but the center). This hole is for the pipe that will refill the reservoir and should be sized accordingly.
Kara Green Roof Growers
Kara, aka “little green girl,” is a member of Green Roof Growers in Chicago and started growing her own heirloom vegetables from a self-watering container last year.

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