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applestar
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Wow, I didn't realize I haven't been updating this thread. I'll post some photos later, but all four containers have been growing fantastic plants -- tomatoes, eggplants, peppers. I've been harvesting from them all, though only some of the peppers are just starting to change color and I made a mistake with one of the eggplants and set it back.

So it's a little early yet, but I came back to this thread to ask what you do with these containers for winter if you live where the winters are severe and freezing water in tubs could potentially crack them.

People in Florida are talking about prepping and planting them for fall gardening which will extend into winter. And they apparently just remove the plants, refresh the soil mix with additional fertilizer and dolomitic lime and topping them up with approved mix, sometimes rotate crops.

...but would I have to empty them, (I guess might as well clean them, too, then) and store them?

...could I just remove the plants, empty the water reservoir, then drag them off to a corner of the yard (if I can), let them dry out as much as possible and cover with tarp to protect from rain/etc.? I don't relish the idea of emptying and refilling these huge containers..... :|
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Allyn
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

I grew up in New Jersey, so I have a good idea what your winters are like. I'd be afraid that anything left in them -- water, soil, whatever-- could heave when it freezes and crack the tubs. Without another option, I'd do as you suggest, dry them out and cover them to keep rain and snow out. Then give us a report in the spring as to how they weathered the winter.

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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Apple,

I think the fact that these containers are slightly tapered downwards prevents them from breaking from freezing. People in areas much colder than us keep Earthboxes filled, and I have left many four and five gallon buckets filled outside through the winter, with none cracking. I am planning on tilting them on their sides, to drain the reservoirs, then uncovering and removing that fertiliser sock, as well as any of the old plants, and covering them with tarps, as you are planning on doing. BTW, a hand truck beats dragging those things!
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applestar
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Eggplant SIP as of today.
A Hari eggplant I'm hoping to collect seeds from, and the Pea eggplant blooming at the top of 10ft stems:
image.jpg
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Year TWO for my 2nd hand DIY SIP's. I left two of them outside over the winter, one on its side, the other upright, and two of them planted with sweet peppers last year were hauled into the garage "Siberia" area near the far garage door on uninsulated side of the garage. The garage ones are currently holding up a glass top patio table I acquired about a month ago, making it impossible to assess whether any of the peppers made it through the winter -- I'm not particularly counting on it, but it would be kind of neat if they did.

I haven't re-loaded the containers yet, but rather than letting them sit idle, I planted 3 Solstice broccoli transplants in the upright SIP in the VG garden along with some pre-sprouted spinach seeds, and had hauled the other one (eggplant SIP) upright a couple of weeks ago, in which I planted 6 Limba broccoli transplants today. I added about 1/4 cup of fertilizer per transplant in the eggplant SIP, but didn't fertilize the other one. We'll see how that works out.
image.jpeg
When it's time for the warm weather crops, I intend to use the SIP's for eggplants and peppers only, maybe some melons, this year. With any luck, the broccoli will be done.

With all this in mind, I went to the farmers market where I bought the ProMix BX last year for a good price this past weekend when they opened for the season. They were $21.95 each. I bought two, but will likely go back for at least one more bale -- there was no room in the car since I also made a run to the furniture shop to pick up the 55 gallon trash bags of $3 Douglas pine shavings. :D
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pepperhead212
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

I have 10 more large SIPs this year, and I have enough to grow at least one of every variety of tomato I am growing, all of my eggplants and melons, and a lot of my peppers, as well as the pea eggplant. Last year I got that promix dirt cheap (sorry, I had to :D) at that market, after you told me about it, and got 6 bales of it! I still have about 4 2/3 bales, so I have plenty, even for all these new ones.
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Allyn
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

What size SiP are you doing the melons in?

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applestar
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

That green Rubbermaid tub one.
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

I'm growing two of my melons (2 each) in an 18 gal tub, and the Minn. midget in a 5 gal bucket SIP.
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applestar
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Thanks, pepperhead! :D
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Allyn
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

applestar wrote:That green Rubbermaid tub one.
LOL But what SIZE is it? :)
pepperhead212 wrote:I'm growing two of my melons (2 each) in an 18 gal tub, and the Minn. midget in a 5 gal bucket SIP.
Okay, so a 10-gallon SiP for one should be good?

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applestar
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Heh. I don't really know for sure, but based on the design and the instructions floating around the net, these appear to be 18 gal as well. :D
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Allyn
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Okay. :) I couldn't tell from the picture. Without a size reference, the tubs look like the 33-gallon ones I have. I was hoping I wouldn't have to use a 33-gallon tub for my melon.

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applestar
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

I have no sense of size. I'll measure them tomorrow. :D -- but you should know I'm really new at this.
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Those look like the 18 gal ones that most of mine are made with.
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Allyn
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Oh don't go to that trouble. I picked up a couple of 10-gallon tubs. Some of the manufacturers use the same shape and proportioned container and just make it bigger for each up-size. That's why I asked. From the top down, those tubs look like they have the same shape and proportions as my 33-gallon tubs. I didn't want to blow a whole 33-galloner for a melon if I didn't have to. I want to get more 10- and 20-gallon tubs because they seem to be the most frequently needed sizes.

I am loving this whole SiP thing. I just this morning picked pole beans, tomatoes and lettuce from SiPs. I have some baby dwarf trees -- banana and lemon. What size do you think they'd ultimately need?

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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

OK, I was all ready to make my two-bucket SIP's today for my carrots, and I hit two snags. My drill wasn't charged and, even worse, I forgot to consider that all of my five-gallon buckets already have holes drilled in them, so I can't use any of them for the reservoir. Oops!!

I have a question that I feel is probably stupid, but doesn't seem to be answered anywhere I've looked, probably because it's that obvious. How do the five or so gallons of soil in my pot become initially moist? Do I need to moisten it, or will it occur on its own via wicking from the reservoir? If the latter, then approximately how long does that take?

I'm initially using these for carrots, which means it'll be a while before the roots are down near the bottom of the container. And I suppose I'll still be responsible for keeping the surface moist for germination?

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Allyn
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

When I put the potting mix into the 'toe,' I wet it real good, both top watering it and filling the reservoir. I pre-wet the mix good because I use peat moss and it can take some coaxing to get it wet the first time, but once it's wet, you're all set. Fill the bucket and plant your carrots. I haven't seeded the carrots right in the SiP, so I can't say for sure. I sprout my seeds indoors and then transplant them when they have sets of true leaves.

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MichaelC
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

So, initially I would wet the entire five-gallon container of soil, just like a typical planting, or just the part in the basket at the bottom? I'm thinking most likely the former, but I'm not sure what the "toe" is.

Thanks for your help with this entirely new-to-me technique.

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Allyn
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Yes, wet everything. I was just saying that before I fill the bucket all the way up with potting mix, I make sure that toe is nice and wet. And then I imagine you'd plant your seeds like you normally would if they were going in the ground.

Sorry, I thought I clarified what I'm calling the 'toe' in the post on the carrots thread. In the video you linked, the guy used a net cup in the bottom of the inner bucket that sticks down into the water reservior. When the bucket is filled with potting mix, the mix in that net cup acts like a wick to wick the moisture out of the reservior up into the potting mix in the inner bucket. I'm calling that net cup the 'toe.' I think of like sticking a toe into the water, yeah? Before you jump into the pool, you stick a toe in to test the water. Well, that's the 'toe' sticking into the water. Maybe I could be more technical by calling it the wicking cup or something like that, but I like 'toe' better.

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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Haha. I like 'toe' too. :lol:

I only started last year, but I followed instructions I was given to (1) thoroughly moisten the mix well first, (2) pack, and I mean PACK, THE TOE TIGHTLY, then (3) as you fill, press with your palm on the columns (my Rubbermaid tub tub had 4 toes) of soil mix directly above the toes so you can feel the moisture wicking up from the reservoir (you fill with water first). After that, I can't remember exactly without looking it up again, but I remember you want to water from the top to settle the mix in and make sure the container is filled to the desired level for putting the fertilizer strip? Or maybe there was a level at which you want to add dolomitic lime first.... Hmmm.
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Have you seen a ratio of how much toe is needed to the volume of the container? You said you have 4 toes in, I assume, 18-gallon containers. I have two each in my 27-gallon SiPs, but they're a lot larger than the ones I use in the 5-gallon ones. Is having more of them better than having fewer but bigger? Does it matter, do you think?

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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

All is clear, thank you for your patience with my repeated questions. It wasn't be certain whether you meant to ONLY wet the toe, or the whole container. I've got it now!
Last edited by MichaelC on Sat Apr 09, 2016 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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applestar
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Ha. Allyn, I'm sorry, I should verify before posting so I can say with assurance that I know what I'm talking about. :oops: I went back to the beginning of this thread and looked, and duh! These only had one toe . I was envisioning FOUR but those were support columns made of the same material.
Image

...I made a few modifications including attaching extra supports because the shelf tended to sag.

@MichaelC, your posts and ensuing discussions are inspiring me to make some 5 gallon SIPs myself! :-()
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Allyn
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Doooo eeeeeeet!

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Granted, they'll look a lot less Homer-tastic after I give them a coat of spray paint. If a plant fits in a 5'er, I'm glad to put it in one because it's easier to move around if I need to.

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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

I'm almost ready to assemble my bucket planters, now I realize I bought the wrong size hole saw for the net baskets I have. Argh! Second day in a row I'm thwarted by not being careful enough - yesterday I realized all of my buckets had holes in them so I needed more.

Can someone suggest an approximate amount of perlite to mix with my soil per 5 gallon bucket?

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Allyn
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

It doesn't have to be exact. If the hole is close enough, you can zip-tie the baskets in. Just make sure the bottom of the basket reaches the floor of the outer bucket.

I like to use a "1/3-mix" -- 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 organic compost and 1/3 perlite and/or vermiculite. If you get one of those little 8-quart bags of perlite, it'll be good for a 5-gallon bucket.

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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

When I did my self watering container I used the plastic cups from McDonalds. I put two together to make it stronger and used a sodering iron for the holes in the lid and the cups. I used multiple cups so mine had more than one "toe". The cups are tapered so I just had to cut the holes the right size so that only about two inches of the cup ended up in the soil and the rest in the reservoir. I added a couple of cut PVC sections for additional support. I used 18 gallon containers with at least 10 gallons of soil and a 5 gallon reservoir. It is important that the mix be wet first. It is easier to pack the container and the reservoir won't get as much silt through the holes in the lid. It also wicks better if it is evenly moist to start with. As Allyn mentioned peat moss is hard to wet evenly when it is dry and wicking doesn't work well if you have dry spots. It is important for the overflow drain to be 1/4 below the floor of the soil layer so there is an air space. I made the mistake the first time of putting only one drain hole because sometimes it can get clogged. I also made the mistake of putting the drain hole facing me when I filled the container. It is better off to put it where it won't leak on you. The first time I did do the fertilizer band but I found there was a lot of fertilizer still in the pot when I emptied it. So, I switched to 1/2 cup of starter fertilizer mixed in and supplemented at first flower, first fruit and monthly thereafter. It ended up using the same amount of fertilizer but all of it was used up. I never put calcium in the mix, but I did use MG potting soil which has lime in it for some of the sips.

I did some 5 gallon buckets but I found them limited in what I could grow, so I preferred to use the 18 gallon tubs.

When the plants were young, I only needed to fill the reservoir every three days, but when the tomatoes were fruiting they used up most of the reservoir in a day so it was filled daily. Mulching and the water tube helped keep the lower leaves dry so I had fewer problems with fungal disease. I still took off the lower leaves anyway.
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MichaelC
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Allyn wrote:It doesn't have to be exact. If the hole is close enough, you can zip-tie the baskets in. Just make sure the bottom of the basket reaches the floor of the outer bucket.
I'm just going to exchange the hole saw tomorrow, it's a full inch off. If I use it to see if it'll work, then I can't return it.
I like to use a "1/3-mix" -- 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 organic compost and 1/3 perlite and/or vermiculite. If you get one of those little 8-quart bags of perlite, it'll be good for a 5-gallon bucket.
Perfect, thank you! You''ve been a tremendous help, and have perhaps lured me to doing more container gardening.

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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

The boxes I've made with buckets I did by setting 4 gal inside 5 gal, or 5 gal inside 6 gal buckets. The wicking column in all of these was a 1 qt soup container from a Chinese restaurant. I used a flywheel to cut the hole, adjusting the diameter on some test holes until it was the perfect size for the container - I just drop it in the hole, and the rim holds it in, though I still hold it in with 4 cable ties. It drops down to about 1/4" from the bottom of the lower bucket. This large reservoir (as well as that in the 18 gal containers I make) is a higher % of the growing medium than in the original Earthbox.
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Here's a planting guide, with suggestions on how many to put in the Earthbox, which is slightly smaller than the 18 gal tubs. However, the suggestion of 6 peppers is a bit many for things that get large - I put in 4 anchos and big jims, which was a bit crowded, but produced very well. And last season I had 3 chinense varieties in one, and they produced huge amounts, but I'll still only put in 2 this season, just so I can find the peppers! The 8 Okra seemed like a lot, but worked out fine.
https://earthbox.com/earthbox-planting-guide
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MichaelC
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

I'm feeling very pleased, I just finished constructing two 5 gallon bucket sip's.
sip1.jpg
IMG_1592.jpg
IMG_1590.jpg

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Allyn
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

Awesome! Do keep us apprised of your progress. :)

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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

I certainly will, either in my carrot thread or here as appropriate. I already have a couple questions. First, a fair amount of soil initially washed into the reservoir, as I did expect, turning the color to a dark chocolate. I can see why you built in barriers. Does it make any difference if I leave the dirty water vs. dumping it? Also, looking at the pictures I provided, might perhaps more drainage holes, closer to the edge, be in order? I refer to the bottom of the inner bucket - around the edge seems neglected.

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Allyn
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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

There's going to be dirt in the water, It's okay as long as there isn't so much of it that it makes mud and fills up the air gap. I think the holes are okay in your inner bucket. There's room for more and more won't hurt, but I don't feel like you have too few. See what other folks think.

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Re: Self Watering Container and Sub-irrigated Planter

For fun, I made a SIP out of a 1 gallon distilled water jug and an ice cream container for a micro-variety tomato called Red Robin for the Winter Indoor Tomato Garden. I'm going to give this one or another one like it to my Mom. :D

Image
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