homeade plant watering device

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kitla
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homeade plant watering device

Post by kitla »

The black clouds drifted past us without a drop of rain falling again, and there's nothing but warm, dry weather forecast for the next couple of weeks at least. I'm thinking ahead to our week's holiday, to save my neighbour the bother of watering my pots, I want to try out some of the ideas I've seen online with water bottles.
One is to make a couple of small holes in the lid & push the bottle top down into the pot. The other is to stand a bottle next to the pot with absorbent string from the water into the pot. Has anyone had any luck with these waterers? or got any better ideas?
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kitla
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Re: homeade plant watering device

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I experimented with a 1lt milk carton this morning. A couple of tiny holes in the lid, upside down in the Acer pot. A couple of hours later I checked it & the carton was collapsing in on itself - I realised I'd made a basic error! For the water to drip out the bottom it needs an air hole in the top...Doh! Try again.
"He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals."
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lancashire lass
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Re: homeade plant watering device

Post by lancashire lass »

kitla wrote:I realised I'd made a basic error! For the water to drip out the bottom it needs an air hole in the top...


the problem is that the hole at the top just increases the flow rate of the water out of the bottle and empties it much quicker (to a matter of minutes rather than hours). I bought some cheap spikes (I think I got from Wilkos?) that screw on pop bottles and are pushed into the soil - they allow a dribble effect but the big 2L pop bottle still collapsed in the middle and bent over (and all within a day) I used something to wrap round the bottle (plastic mesh) to prevent the bottle folding over (and trapping water from flowing out from the bit that bent over) but the vacuum created as water drains out still made the bottle squash in but this does help to slow the rate down a little.

The other problem is that most of these DIY methods still only give about a day's worth of watering, certainly not a weeks worth. And with a heatwave forecast this next week or so, water loss by evaporation will be higher than normal. I'd suggest a few other things as well:

1. Move pots into shade if you can so the plants themselves won't be fried in the sun and will help reduce the need to take up water lost through the leaves
2. Place pots into trays / troughs and fill with water - yes, you shouldn't sit plants in water for lengths of time but in a heatwave, the chances are the pots will dry out a lot quicker than normal ... I have done this when the weather is hot and has not been a problem for a temporary solution
3. Put a heavy mulch round the top to reduce water loss from the soil surface (if you have the plants in clay porous pots, suggest wrapping the pot with say clingfilm to reduce water loss through the pot itself)
4. Trim the plants before you go (the more leaves you can safely remove means less water uptake by the plant)
5. Depending on the size of pots, you could bury the pots in the garden (then heavily saturate the soil with water - the soil will act like a tray of water but in this case, the soil itself might slow down evaporation. The risk here is that roots usually grow through the pot holes into the soil - you could also place trays under the pots as you bury (they will act like little reservoirs of water if the rest of the garden soil dries out quickly) Again, heavily mulch the whole soil surface to reduce water loss by evaporation.

Wick watering - to be honest, I haven't tried it so cannot comment on its effectiveness over a long period (would evaporation from the wick itself in a heatwave cause it to dry up and then stop working? How quickly does the wick work - in other words, how quickly will it empty the reservoir?)

My friend once asked me to look after the house when she went away (just pop in to move mail from the door, feed the cats and make sure the house hadn't been burgled) and keep an eye on their (many) potted plants and baskets on their patio. They had a watering system fitted to the outside tap - it was on a timer and automatically switched on and off. Complete Hozelock systems are expensive but I think with a little thought and shopping around (eg online such as ebay or other DIY stores such as B&Q, the only expensive bit is the timer itself (battery operated) which you screw onto the outside tap (which is left opened) and then fit garden hose to a manifold or to "Y" pieces (so the water from the main could be split between the various pots - connectors are fitted to the large bore of the hose to reduce it to smaller bore tubing, and then using a series of "T" pieces for that size tubing, each tubing from the "T" piece is directed into individual pots (a lot of these self watering systems involve fitting "dribblers" or sprayers but you might get away with an open tube) It is complicated and fiddly setting it up but very effective - the only time I had to do anything was to actually turn the outside tap off when the weather turned very wet and the pots were starting to drown. Instead of directing into individual pots, the option is to have the tubing direct water into trays with the pots sitting in them.

With a self watering system set up, it still has its uses when you are at home and reduces the need to hand water regularly.

However, I still think asking a neighbour to keep an eye out might have to be an option - even these self watering devices can go wrong (say the hose slipped off the self timer for example)
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kitla
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Re: homeade plant watering device

Post by kitla »

Tbh we're only away for a week, so most of the smaller pots I can gather up into a shadier area as you suggested, & my neighbour can water them all together. But I do have a few odd containers that cant be moved & might get missed. I also have a few special things I've planted in the border that I want to look after - (It's our 25th wedding anniversary end of Aug & we're planning a garden party) I had thought that the bottle dripping idea might vary the length of time it took to empty depending on the size/number of holes. One youtube video suggested the heat of the sun caused the plastic bottle to expand & force the water out quicker - when the plant needed more. I will look for those spikes, sounds much easier to me! Hopefully it will rain the week we're away!! :-D
"He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals."
--Immanuel Kant
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