We found the time this evening to make a self watering container. We bought two storage crates and pipe last weekend. Some rooting in the recycling turned up an empty ice cream container and a few off-cuts of wood. For tools we used a knife and a saw.
The first step was to mark the shape of the ‘reservoir’ container onto the upper crate and cut a hole for it. This container must go through the bottom of the upper crate and sit down into the water below. The ice cream container is a good size for the job. It also has a ‘lip’ on the top so it won’t fall through the hole into the water. The main downside was that it was difficult to cut curves into the sturdy plastic. You can see that the plastic cracked a bit. It took a while to cut this hole.
After trimming the hole until the ice cream container fitted comfortably we had to cut another hole for the pipe, to get the water into the reservoir. Adam sawed a nice length of pipe from the long piece we bought last week. We then had to cut a small, circular hole in the crate for the pipe to go through. Again, it would have been easier to cut a square or rectangular shaped hole.
The next step was to place three small pieces of wood into the lower crate. These are to hold the upper crate out of the water and allow room for the ice cream container reservoir to sit down into the water. I also pierced one small overflow hole into the lower crate to help us know when the reservoir is full. We also pierced a number of larger holes into the ice cream container to allow the water through to the soil.
Once everything was in place we filled it up with soil and planted the two bean plants into it. They have been growing up and tangling themselves around everything they can so it is about time they were transplanted.
Finally we added bamboo for the beans to climb and filled the reservoir with water for them.
The process took about two hours in total today. To be honest it was not the most enjoyable garden job as a lot of the time was spent trying to saw through plastic. The total cost of the self watering container was about £5.25 (£1.99 for each crate, £1.25 for the pipe, plus some salvaged wood etc.). For two hours work and a saving of less than £2 it is probably worth paying for the shop bought containers. Having said that, I am glad we made the effort because now we know how it is done and we can keep an eye out for cheap materials for making future containers if we want to.