Self-Irrigating Planter Resources
April 9, 2009 8:55 AM   Subscribe

Summer's coming! The tried-and-true food growing tool of the aspiring urban agriculturalist: self-irrigating planters. Make or buy one of these things and vegetable container gardening is a breeze.

Their blog has a lot of other cool resources, too.
posted by aniola (13 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you! Having destroyed a pair of tomato plants last year due to negligence, I'm all over this.
posted by gurple at 9:12 AM on April 9, 2009

I have wondered about this uncounted times. So the water DOES wick up the soil? Instead of drench plants from above, I could set the pot, which has holes in the bottom, in a puddle? Awesome.
posted by DU at 9:44 AM on April 9, 2009


Yesterday's tomatoes in the desert post led me to these two commercial boxes (Earth Box, and Tomato Success Kit) and an attractive stand for them, which I am hoping will keep the groundhogs out of my tomatoes.
posted by caddis at 10:15 AM on April 9, 2009

DU: Yes the soil will wick up water, but you have to be careful ... if you just set a normally-potted plant in a pool or dish of water, the roots will rot pretty quickly. The point of these 'self-watering' pots is basically to let the soil wick up water as-needed, but provide enough aeration so that the roots aren't constantly saturated.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:38 AM on April 9, 2009

I don't understand why your tried-and-true links to a comment about hydroponics. Hydroponic gardening is not the same as self-watering pots. Hydroponic gardening is explicitly soil-less, and requires water soluble nutrient solution that does not rely on soil microorganisms to make nutrients available to plants.

As far as self-watering pots: totally great for annuals grown by people who want to relax about watering schedules. Not so great for perennial plants that spend several seasons in soil that eventually has a buildup of mineral salts from fertilizers and/or water sources. It's also important to note that peat-based potting soils (as recommended in the earth box link from the blog post) can have a pH that is too low for certain nutrients to be taken up by plants, particularly calcium, phosphorous and magnesium (note: this is much different than the chemistry of soil-less gardening). In a nearly closed system, it's especially crucial to test soil pH and make sure it's between 6.3-7 pH for optimum nutrient uptake, otherwise you can dump in all the fertilizer you want and it still won't be available to the plants.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:56 AM on April 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

Interesting stuff. This looks like exactly the answer to the question of what to do with my back yard.
posted by lekvar at 11:44 AM on April 9, 2009

I'm positively giddy at the thought of not having to water my tomato plants twice a day this summer! Thank you.
posted by geeky at 1:33 PM on April 9, 2009

We use a home built version of the Earth box for all of our home gardening - our soil is horrific here, and combine this with a now 4 year long drought , and well, you do all you can just to keep your plants alive.
posted by strixus at 1:47 PM on April 9, 2009

I have an Earth Box. The tomato and strawberry plants I've grown in them have down well, but I've never had abundant snacks as shown in the pictures. That won't stop me from trying again this year.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:45 PM on April 9, 2009

Oneirodynia: The planter diagrams looked the same in that hydroponics link... oops!
posted by aniola at 4:24 PM on April 9, 2009

It's also important to note that peat-based potting soils (as recommended in the earth box link from the blog post) can have a pH that is too low for certain nutrients to be taken up by plants...

The EarthBox system -- the full version that comes with the big bag of dirt, not the "container only" version -- also comes with a packet of agricultural lime to mix into the top few inches of the potting mix, which corrects the pH and adds calcium.
posted by Asparagirl at 4:47 PM on April 9, 2009

Related: >A HREF="">Pitcher Irrigation.
posted by Pants! at 8:50 PM on April 9, 2009

Late to the conversation, but...
The Earthtainer. They have plans and construction videos on the site.
posted by tayknight at 6:54 PM on April 10, 2009

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