Thursday, April 23, 2009

DIY Self-Watering Planters

For Easter, we made a trip out to my mother's house and were treated with a lovely surprise fresh from my stepfather's greenhouse: Nearly mature tomato plants! John provided us with two plants each of the following varieties:

  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Cherokee tomatoes (which will be purple)
What a great addition to our garden! When we got home though, I realized that with my somewhat forgetful nature, these mature plants and their containers would need some kind of self-watering system to avoid drying out. So I took some terracotta pots from last season and made some deceptively simple outer containers - all I had to do was plug the drainholes.

I came up with a crafty solution of slicing up an old cork (our running cork collection came in quite handy) into "slices" about 4 mm thick. I then planned to insert that in the bottom of the pot, and seal it like a wine bottle.

Unfortunately, the corks were just bigger than the holes, so I had to make the diameter smaller. Doing this left a bit of a gap between the nice round curve of the pot and the chopped edge of my cork though, so I needed to water proof the cork somehow. I took an old candle that had burned almost all the way down, and dripped wax on top of and around the cork to seal the opening.

After letting the wax cool down for awhile, I tested the seal under the sink and it worked great. Voila! Self-watering containers! Now, the tomato plants, comfy in the plastic containers they came in, each have their own self-watering container that will allow them to "drink" from the bottom if they're thirsty. These should serve the plants well until it is warm enough to move them outside permanently.

In the meantime, I can hardly believe it but they are already beginning to flower. We may have fresh tomatoes from our little urban garden at the start of the season this year!

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