DIY self-watering containers

Photo credit: Hubpages

Morning sunshine hitting a patio garden growing tomatoes and peppers. A couple of the plants are more than 6 feet tall.

Source: ©2015 Studio 2-Dawgs

Grow Veggies Anywhere with These DIY Self-watering Containers

By twodawgs


An Idea That Made Container Gardening (Almost) Foolproof

A recent development in gardening technology is the emergence of the sub-irrigating(a.k.a. “self-watering”) container. This idea has helped make it possible for more people to grow some of their own food – and more kinds of it – in places we never imagined, such as patios, apartment balconies, or even abandoned parking lots and city building rooftops. What does a self-watering plant container do? Does it mean you’ll never have to water it?

Not exactly. You do have to water it, but not nearly as often, and it takes all the guesswork out of knowing when to add water, and how much to add.

A sub-irrigating container design based on 2 5-gallon buckets.
A sub-irrigating container design based on 2 5-gallon buckets.

Source: Studio 2-Dawgs
Read the full article: Hubpages

conscientious about water usage (J. HALL /

A message from Jasmine HALL

I work with, where we just published entitled “101 Way to Conserve Water in College” Considering this overlap in subject matter with your blog, I thought perhaps you would be interested in sharing the article with your readers? If so, you can find the article here:

( ) .

Thanks for sharing some great content through your blog.


Jasmine Hall


101 Way to Conserve Water in College

A lot of businesses, households and campuses have recently adopted water conservation plans to save money and protect the environment, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us. Those of us in the developed world use inordinate amounts of water for personal use, and most of it isn’t used efficiently. With each extra utensil used or toilet flushed, water is wasted, and you can imagine how much water that adds up to on a college campus. Here are 101 ways to conserve water in college, whether you’re a student, college president or professor.

(continued) …………………..

Personal Gardening, Plants and Patio

If you have a garden on your balcony or a bigger plot outside your apartment, be more conscientious about water usage with these tips.

  1. Use “leftover” water to water plants: Any leftover water you have in a drinking glass or other container should be used to water plants, not thrown out.
  2. Clear off dirt and other messes with a broom, instead of hosing it down. It’ll get things just as clean and save water to boot.
  3. Plant during spring and fall: Considered “less water stress times,” spring and fall bring more rain and moisture naturally, so you won’t have to water young plants as often.
  4. Water in the morning or evening: There’s less chance of evaporation due to cooler temperatures and lower wind speed at this time.
  5. Use the right fertilizer: Put slow-release, water-insoluble fertilizer on plants only when necessary. Many fertilizers make plants more thirsty.
  6. Learn how to compost: It’s a life skill you can use to save water.
  7. Look for native plants: Plant flowers, bushes and trees that are native to your area, as they’ll be used to the conditions and won’t need as much water.
  8. Make sure sprinklers are correctly situated: Watering the sidewalk is a depressing waste of water.
  9. Don’t water when it’s about to rain: Pay a little extra attention to the forecast to avoid water waste and killing your plants.
  10. Watch the soil to find out how much water you need to use: If the soil around a plant starts to pool up, you don’t need to keep watering it.





How to conserve moisture around the roots of saplings with cardboard / Conservando la humedad con cartón (Fabio RUIZ)

Read at :

Pieces of cardboard can be placed around saplings with the aim to conserve some more moisture between two irrigation rounds. It was noted that sufficient soil moisture was retained for up to 8 days more. Besides conserving moisture, it also keeps out weeds.

The only cost is to get the cardboard, cut it and place it. Used cardboard boxes and egg trays can perfectly serve the purpose.

2010-11-24 - A piece of cardboard placed around a sapling conserves moisture around the roots (Photo Fabio RUIZ)
2010-11-24 - Lower part of the stem of a young papaya plant and an egg tray (Photo Fabio RUIZ)
2010-11-24 - Papaya sapling's roiots kept moistened with an egg tray (Photo Fabio RUIZ)

Conservando la humedad con cartón.

Se puso cartón alrededor de los árboles con la finalidad de que les dure un poco más la humedad al regarlos. Comprobamos que les puede durar hasta 8 días más en este tiempo. Además de conservar la humedad, el cartón impide que salgan hierbas.

El único costo es conseguir el cartón, cortarlo y ponerlo. Se usó cartón de cajas de desecho y cartón que se usa para el huevo, este último es reciclado y aún así alcanzamos a darle otro uso.

Allotment gardens and container gardening in the Philippines (R. HOLMER)

I received an interesting email message from

Dr. Robert J. Holmer
Periurban Vegetable Project (PUVeP)
Xavier University – Research & Social Outreach
Manresa Farm, Fr. W. F. Masterson SJ Ave
9000 Cagayan de Oro City

telling me : “I just came across your great blog on Desertification which I started to read with great interest and joy since you share the same ideas about food security as me. Your comment on allotment gardening reflects exactly my sentiments. …………………………..  and possibly we can convince more people on the benefits of these programs, including container gardening.

The pictures I added are from two school gardens where we are establishing so-called container gardens to maximize space and to encourage pupils to replicate this at home. We also provided rainwater catchment since even in the tropics freshwater is becoming scarce (and the technology – as simple as it may be – was basically not known).

2008 Students filling plastic bottles with soil to set up container gardening
2008 Philippines : Students filling plastic bottles with soil to set up container gardening
A rack with plastic bottles for succesful container gardening in a small area (vertical gardening)
2008 - Philippines : A rack with plastic bottles for succesful container gardening in a small area (vertical gardening)
Efficient rainwater catchment with simple tools
2008 - Philippines : Efficient rainwater catchment with simple tools

In addition, one of our former staff members just started his Ph.D. thesis on ‘bio-char’ which you also mentioned on your blog. I added his thesis proposal for your reference.

Attached also a little brochure we just came out with as well as the link to our 103 “Philippine Allotment Garden Manual“, which may give some useful ideas to people in other countries (”.



Transparent plastic pots as mini-greenhouses (ianramjohn / Willem)

Already published at my desertification blog :

An interesting comment at “ianramjohn’s blog” : FURTHER THOUGHTS !

Read at :

Yoghurt containers as mini-greenhouses

Willem van Cottem of Desertification has a very interesting post about the use of transparent containers as mini-greenhouses. You can use them to get seedlings started indoors in the Spring, or in arid environments (since it cuts down on water usage prior to transplantation). They are also useful for transporting the seedlings.

I would be a little concerned about hardening the seedlings – that they might not be able to handle the desiccation without significant die-back – but I suspect that he has taken that into account.

MY REPLY (Willem)

Thanks for your appreciation and linking on your blog. I fully understand your concern about the hardening of seedlings developed in such “optimal” conditions. My experiments showed that it suffices to take off the covering pot for a short time every now and then. Exposure to the “indoor drought” in my house seems to harden the seedlings significantly and limits the possible development of fungi, e.g. moulds. More experiments in different conditions on different continents are certainly needed to fine-tune this method. It would be nice if people, setting up trials with such mini-greenhouses, send a short report with a couple of pictures to me at <>. I could then collect their information and summarize the possible advices for improvement.

Yoghurt pots as mini-greenhouses (Willem)

Already published on my desertification blog :

Yoghurt pots as mini-greenhouses

A major part of my life has been dedicated to the combat of desertification and alleviation of poverty, in particular that of rural people in the drylands. One of my main objectives is to find cost-effective ways of helping these people to get better standards of life and to offer them opportunities to apply the best practices in that combat of desertification. Success stories have been registered in this combat all over the world. Unfortunately, these best practices are not yet applied at the largest scale. Although some very efficient and cost-effective technologies and methods have been developed and repeatedly described and recommended to decision-makers, their application rate is still dramatically poor. One wonders why it is seemingly more easy to spend billlions at enormous programs and projects than to provide reasonable financial means for large-scale application of the best practices. It sounds a bit discouraging, but it is not. The day will come that people will be aware of the necessity to turn to simple, but effective methods, instead of spending too much at non-productive initiatives. That is why my personal interest is focused on simplicity and cost-effectiveness, e.g. recycling waste or saving valuable seeds from the garbage bin (see our project “Seeds for Life” at
Continuously looking for new opportunities for container gardening, a wonderful method for producing food in the drylands, I recently did some experiments with transparent yoghurt pots. I thereby found an easy way to transform these pots into mini-greenhouses for a windowsill or a table close to the window.

Below you will find some pictures explaining the functioning of my new (?) mini-greenhouses, in which small quantities of seedlings can be grown before being transplanted. Maybe someone did the same before, but up to now I didn’t find traces of this method. Should you have more information, don’t hesitate to send it to me.

Advantages of this method
could be :

* Possibility to grow seedlings indoors (even before Spring in temperate regions, like in Belgium).
* Possibility to grow seedlings with a minimal quantity of water (avoiding drought outdoors) inside the house in the drylands (not in the garden outside) .
* Easy way to check germination daily.
* Easy way to regulate moisture level in the “mini-greenhouse” (lifting the transparent yoghurt pot, covering the seed(lings), to aerate whenever needed).
* Opportunity to choose the right moment (dimension of seedlings) for transplantation.
* Opportunity to reuse the same mini-greenhouse multiple times (easy to clean after transplantation).

This is probably a method which could tremendously help rural people in the drylands. It suffices to offer them free heaps of “yoghurt pots” (which should not be littered anymore by people in the developed world, but washed and cleaned!) to have them growing seedlings of certain crops in an optimal way, without having to irrigate their garden daily with a huge quantity of water (isn’t saving water in the drylands a MUST ?).

I wonder if we could not set up local or regional collecting points for these yoghurt pots and offer them afterwards to NGOs for their development projects in the drylands. Impossible ? Anyway, it would be much easier than constructing a dam or boring well No. 126.417 !

Why ? Well, here are my pictures. Enjoy !

Yoghurt 01
Using two yoghurt pots for one mini-greenhouse set :
Left : lid of one pot with lower part of the pot.
Right : another pot.
Click on the picture to enlarge it.
Mini-greenhouse before filling the cup inside with potting soil.
lid + cup greenhouse set
Left : lid + cup / Right : complete set of mini-greenhouse.
Left : cup with Sorghum-seedlings in potting soil.
Right : yoghurt pot used as cover.
seedlings in mini-greenhouse
Sorghum seedlings in mini-greenhouse. Top with 4 perforations to allow minimal evaporation and penetration of oxygen inside the pot.
Set of 3 mini-greenhouses
Set of 3 mini-greenhouses with cherimoyas (Annona cherimola), lychees (Litchi chinensis) and sorgho (Sorghum bicolor).