Just before we went on holiday, Frosty and I decided to build our own "self-watering" plant system in order to (hopefully) to keep our plants from dying while we were away.
Granted, the first attempt culminated in a completely imploded water container (the plastic was too soft). Our second attempt was a lot better. We're still seeing a bit of suction on our water container, but at least there was some water in the container when we left - now we have to just hope it lasts.
Here's how we built ours:
So, this is what you'll need:
1. Some sort of water container (we used one of those hard plastic 25 litre containers, but glass or metal would probably be better). It should come with a spare lid that you can use and dedicate to your system.
2. Enough piping to reach all your plants.
3. Female pipe adaptor and "L" connector.
4. Various "T" pipe connectors (depends on how many offshoots you need to make).
4. Some plumbing tape.
5. Something to heat up the pipe (optional, but does help).
6. Your plants all need to have shallow bases.
7. Something to rest your container on, once it's been put together.
This was our first attempt - you can see how the plastic bottle has collapsed into itself. It wasn't particularly successful for a number of reasons. We think we put the bottle too high off the ground and the plastic of the bottle was too soft. Effectively, the water going out sucked the container into itself as the container was too soft to suck air back into the container.
What is meant to happen is that the container needs to be strong enough to let some water out and then suck some air back in, up the pipe and into the container once the water drops below the level of the pipes in the plant bases.
This was our second attempt, which was a little better (and will hopefully mean the plants survive while we are away!).
We positioned this second container much lower than the first one and also got a container that was made out of slightly harder plastic. You can see there is a bit of collapsing, but not as much as the first container!
We are heading back to Cape Town on Sunday, so hopefully our makeshift water system will have helped our plants to survive while we weren't there. I'll let you know the outcome when I get back!