Saturday, July 20, 2013

Results of the Great Experiment

My seeds have all sprouted and look healthy even though I was away for the weekend. This is such a great way to start seeds if you have to be traveling or just get too busy to pay attention. I have three different types of plants growing so you can't judge by the amount of growth. What I was looking at was how much water was used up when I came home from my visit. They all three had a tiny bit of water left in the reservoir but all the rest had been sucked up into the soil.
The conclusion is - - they all worked the SAME! It doesn't matter which method you use, they all work! There may be more efficient ways to start seeds if you're doing a huge garden, but for my needs, this is just perfect! This system is great for starting seeds,and growing herbs and veggies like lettuce that don't take up a ton soil.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Great Experiment

I needed some pots to start some seeds for my fall garden. I decided to experiment with self-watering (actually self-regulating, you still have to water but not as often) containers made from soda bottles. I've seen so many ways to make these. Most are pretty similar but just enough different that it made me wonder which one works the best. So, I started with three bottles. One just has holes drilled in the neck, one has a wick made out of paper towels and one has a yarn wick.

All three were pretty easy to make. The first one has a bunch of holes in the cap, around the neck and the shoulder of the bottles. I cut it off below the shoulder.

The instructions said to use a straw as a filler hole and to drill a overflow hole in the bottom third of the water reservoir, but I didn't have any straws so I just made a hole that can serve as a filler hole and an overflow hole.

I know it's a little hard to see, but it's a half-moon shaped hole just about where the bottom of the label was.

The second one has a wick made from two paper towels.  One towel is folded in half, and folded again. Then it's folded in half the other way and rolled into a tube. The tube is then set in the center of the second paper towel and pushed about halfway through the mouth of the bottle. The long tail of the second paper towel is spread out to catch the soil when it is added.
I have some reservations about how long the paper towels will last. I've seen some involving sponges and old tee shirts. Might give that a try later.


Here's a video of how to do this one

The third one just has one hole with a length of yarn (or string) through it. One end will sit in the water reservoir and the other will be up in the soil.

All of the tops were inverted and pushed down into the ends of the other section of the bottle.

Then I put soil in the containers and watered it from the top to get everything working. The one with holes just gushed water and the overflow hole did its job. The one with the paper wick slowly trickled down and the water is amazingly clean. The yarn wick one took the longest to flow down. The soil is still a bit soupy.

I planted the seeds and now I wait. I will report back as things develop.

Mini Gardening in an RV Park

Some things in my little container garden are coming in pretty good. The Swiss Chard that I planted in the shoe bag is fantastic. I almost hate to pick it. It's just huge and beautiful. But I don't like to let food go to waste either.

The carrots are doing well too. I wish I had planted more but there is still the fall season.

I have some chard and carrots cooking in the crock pot as I write.
That's a hammer on the table for size.
 The tomatoes are not doing well - again. I'm trying a home made wilt spray that seems to be working. I'll take before an after pictures if it works. Onions are doing fine. I just replanted some mint. I've got some mango seeds sprouting and even some Jerusalem artichoke from the side of the road.

I've been given some houseplants too, not that I need them, but they're sort of like stray animals...I even adopted a Purple Fountain Grass from the dumpster...