Self Watering Container

I’m such a sucker for bargains!

Thankfully, over the years I’ve acquired some control over an urge to BUY, BUY, BUY when the price is right.  I had to face the fact that an item was not a true bargain if I did not have an intended purpose for it.

Now Hubby would argue that point.  He’s suffered through the salvage of wood from our garage tear down, and will point to the new garage rafters and ask “when are you going to use that?”

He calls me a packrat!  The nerve!  hehehe

Back to the point:  I found a bargain resin tote at a Goodwill store recently and immediately thought of making a self-watering container.  The tote was missing a lid, so at $1.99 the price was right.

The basic design of a self watering container requires a water reservoir, a soil support base, a wicking method, a water fill method and an overflow drain.

I assembled the tools and some recycled materials to achieve the basic design.

I found a great design that used a basic .50 basket for the soil wicking, so I used the basket as my height measuring guide for the plastic containers I would use to help create a support for the soil.

To create a reservoir, I cut the sugar container and the peanut containers to the correct height, and then added v cuts in their sides to allow water flow.

The support structure would be mesh gutter guard remnants laid over the top of the containers.

I laid out the reservoir components to prepare for the filtering layer.  The basket and plastic containers (which are placed bottoms up on the floor of the tub) provide the foundation for the mesh overlay which will hold the soil.

Wicking is necessary to pull the reservoir water up to the soil, so a gap is created that allows soil on soil contact between the wet and the dry.

The water fill components are simple:  two water bottles and the top of the sugar container, sans lids.

Also necessary is an insert for the water fill tube.

Another necessary component is the filter for the soil: a permeable means to contain the soil, yet allow water penetration.  I used landscape cloth, with a second doubled layer of fiberglass window screen.

The cloth was placed first, creating a basket inside the basket to contain the wicking soil, then the mesh gutter guards were laid over the cloth.  I added two scoops of dolomite limestone to the base of the basket.

I filled the basket with soil, packing it in firmly, keeping it contained in the landscape filter.  The mesh gutter supports were then put into place.

The screen is placed over the support structure, with a hole cut into it for the soil on soil wicking method.

I placed the water fill tube into the insert (the screen was cut to wrap around the tube).  Slowly, I added the first layer of soil, pressing it into the sides and corners and around the water fill tube, keeping the screen firmly placed along the sides and corners of the tub.

I added soil to just below the water fill guard (which also serves as a handy means to assess the water level – just pull out the top water bottle for viewing), leaving enough room for a layer of mulch.

Done!

No… wait.

I forgot something.  There’s no overflow drain!

Whew!  I know how to handle this…

I guessed the height of the reservoir and punched a hole about 1/2 inch above that.  The proper method would have been to measure and drill a hole before the soil was added, but this will suffice.

We don’t want water logged soil!

There you have it, an affordable self watering container, also known as a wicking bed.

Easy peasy!

Dreamin’ Girl

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A Simple Step Toward Water Conservation

The internet is my favorite tool, but hubby cringes every time I mention that I have a new idea I want to try.

He does get extra points, because all groaning aside, he has been a mostly active and supportive participant in my schemes.

The largest scheme to date is the rain barrel system.

I’d seen a few samples and the obsession began:  I searched online, reading how-to articles and watching how-to videos; and then shopped for weeks.

I decided to try the most affordable option:  I found numerous barrels for $15 each on Craigslist, and less than an hour away.

I arranged to purchase seven of them, and hubby willingly went along with me to meet the man we purchased from and load the barrels into the truck.

These barrels are food grade, 55 gallon, and have a screw top lid. As a bonus, some of the barrels also have a secondary insert under the lid.

Water barrel materials: clamps, threaded connector, tape and adhesive, hose bib nut, hose bib

I shopped at Home Depot for the necessary parts: hose bibs and nuts, overflow connectors, clamps, hose, and screen.  The hardest part was finding appropriate overflow tubing/hose that would fit the large overflow connectors I had purchased.

I’m thankful for helpful employees!

I explained the basic design to Hubby and he set upon making realistic barrels from the picture in my head.

Score!

Hubby got caught up in the design, having explained my crazy scheme to co-workers who were looking for updates on the build.  He was as excited as I!

He set up concrete block bases, because I wanted to be able to set a bucket under the hose bib to fill with water. The higher the base for the barrel, the better gravity flow/water pressure.

Each barrel also requires air flow and overflow, in order to prevent vacuum when using the hose bib and to allow water to escape when the barrel gets full.

Additionally, the barrels that sit directly under the downspout require an opening for the rushing water, and a screen to filter the debris and keep out mosquitos.

Each opening also requires screen to keep out mosquitos.

Overflow barrels do not need the barrel top alteration.  This saves on screen as well.

Our results were mostly right on target. Even a small rain will quickly fill a barrel. Large rains were planned for, by chaining three barrels together for each downspout.

Score!

The season turned out to be incredibly hot and dry last year, so having an additional 330 gallons of mineral rich rainwater available for the garden each time it rained was a practical necessity.

Are you using any water conservation techniques?

Later!

Dreamin’ Girl

Stretching My Wings

It’s finally here… the end of the week.

I may have had you looking around for your calendar, or doing a mental check of which day it really is – yes, it’s Thursday.  Thursday signals to me that I need to wrap up my chores for the week.  If there are things that I need to get done, they’d best be on the list for today so that tomorrow is not overwhelmed with them.  I shutdown on Friday evening, so after work on Friday, there is not much time left for “to do” tasks.

This week end preparation caused me to get focused on going “live” with the blog.  You can now link to me on Pinterest or Facebook (see the right sidebar), and I’m preparing for a huge project:  kitchen organization and facelift.  I’m also preparing to start the early garden seedlings.  There’s a lot to do, and a lot to share.  I guess it’s a perfect time to stretch my wings.  :)

Here’s a handy tip for the end of the week:

Make your own Reed Diffuser

Materials:

    • Decorative small mouthed glass jar (I prefer the lovely handcrafted Patron jar, but it meant I had to have a lot of margaritas!)
    • Bamboo reeds (skewer sticks also work well for this)
    • Diffuser base oil (I ordered mine from essentialoil.com — and this simply a personal recommendation)
    • Essential oil for fragrance – choose your favorite (also purchased from essentialoil.com, but there are other options available)
    • Small funnel (you’ll want this funnel reserved for this use only)
    • Optional:  5% – 10% Perfumer’s alcohol (added to assist wicking properties)
Using the funnel (carefully, and preferably over the sink), pour the essential fragrance oil into the jar, filling to the 1/4 or 1/3  mark of the jar.

Still using the funnel, add the essential oil to fill the jar, leaving one inch of  head space.

Add the bamboo reeds and swirl them to mix the oils.

If you find that the oil is not wicking well, you may add perfumer’s alcohol, at no more than 1/4 ratio, to thin the base.

easy DIY reed diffuser from patron bottle

 

larger version of the diy reed diffuser

 

multiple bottles for reed diffusers

There you have it!  Easy peasy!  See you next week!

Dreamin’ Girl