Self-Watering Containers

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Two pots and a plastic cup are all you need

Watering plants in containers can be a time-consuming chore, particularly in the heat and wind of summer. Making your own self-watering containers is a great way to hack a watering system. Typically, commercially available self-watering garden containers have an area to hold the plants and soil, then a bottom pot or reservoir that holds excess water. Some form of wick will link the inner and outer pot so that water is drawn up to the plant roots as the moisture level in the soil decreases.

Hacking your own self-watering container is easily done. Find two planting containers the same size; place a yogurt or butter tub in between the two containers to create a water reservoir, drill extra holes in the “inner” planting container base; and feed a piece of cotton rope through one of the holes into the bottom water reservoir. Fill the reservoir with a hose or watering can by lifting the container or by cutting a feed hole to help supply water.

This technique works great on a balcony, fire escape, or patio. Filling your reservoir with rainwater when possible is a wise choice as there are fewer chemicals in rainwater compared to city water or softened water. Never use softened water in your container gardens because the dissolved salts are toxic to your plants. Most self-watering containers are food safe, but do your research and make sure this is true before planting in a self-watering unit.


Cover courtesy of Cool Springs Press

More from 101 Organic Gardening Hacks:

For more gardening hacks and ideas, come to the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Fair where Shawna Coronado will be taking questions and presenting on organic gardening hacks and gardening with chronic pain. 


Reprinted with permission from 101 Organic Gardening Hacksby Shawna Coronado and published by Cool Springs Press, 2017.

Gardening Techniques

In 101 Organic Gardening Hacks you’ll find the top tips, tricks, and solutions Coronado has dreamed up in her career as one of America’s most creative gardeners. Some are practical time-savers; others offer clever ways to “upcycle” everyday items in your garden. One characteristic every hack shares is that they are completely organic and unfailingly environmentally friendly. Order from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store or by calling 800-234-3368.

Mother Earth Gardener
Mother Earth Gardener
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