Monday, August 23, 2010

DIY self-watering

Because I'm mainly an ornamental gardener, I had never really thought much about using self-watering containers. Even in a dry summer as this one has been, I can neglect my containers of annuals and tender bulbs without too many ill results. They bounce back. And I don’t find the self-watering containers too ornamental. I’m still looking for that gorgeous lightweight container that looks like an Etruscan original.

However, my friend Gordon, who has an amazing ornamental garden that takes up most of his outdoor property, has found a way to have it all by using his driveway as a place to grow vegetables. And he makes his own self-watering containers (or self-contained gardening system, as these are often called). Gordon grows an amazing crop of heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and other vegetables in this asphalt-covered space; many of the seedlings are started in a collapsible hoop house he uses in the spring. Vegetables benefit most from a steady diet of water and nutrients—there’s a little more science necessary when you grow them. Kind of like the difference between baking and other types of cooking.

At first I thought his homemade containers were just another aspect of his gardening genius. Not quite. Gordon has modified a recipe for self-watering containers he found on the web. It’s from Josh Mandel and can be found here. The site looks like it hasn’t been updated in a while, but the instructions are still good. Gordon recommends that instead of PVC, 3/4" copper tubing be used, and instead of black tarp, red weed blocking fabric be used, especially for the tomato plantings.

I’d be interested to see if anyone uses this, and if it works for them. And I’m still looking for those elusive self-watering, lightweight and beautiful containers for my ornamentals.

(Pictures coming soon for this--sorry!)

1 comment:

Heather's Garden said...

I was impressed by Gordon's veggie set-up myself. My self-watering containers may not be the prettiest things ever, but the veggie plants in them are pretty darned attractive!