Grow Veggies Anywhere with These DIY Self-watering Containers
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.
I work with Onlineclasses.org, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 (puvep.xu.edu.ph/publications/AG%20Booklet_final.pdf)”.
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 <email@example.com>. I could then collect their information and summarize the possible advices for improvement.
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 http://zadenvoorleven.wordpress.com).
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 !
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.
Left : lid + cup / Right : complete set of mini-greenhouse.
Left : cup with Sorghum-seedlings in potting soil.
Right : yoghurt pot used as cover.
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 with cherimoyas (Annona cherimola), lychees (Litchi chinensis) and sorgho (Sorghum bicolor).