Sasha
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Anybody tried this? (capillary self-watering system)

I want to do container gardening on my balcony this summer, but will be away for work a number of times during the season. I'm thinking of ways to keep the garden going in my absence that would not require someone coming to water them. I found this:

https://www.ehow.com/how_8745177_continu ... lants.html

Has anyone tried it? Does it work? I was thinking I would try it early in the season before I'm away a lot, but if it's garbage then I should look into a different option.

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ReptileAddiction
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Re: Anybody tried this? (capillary self-watering system)

It seems like it could work. I am interested in what others say. I might do this myself.

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LA47
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Re: Anybody tried this? (capillary self-watering system)

I tried it this spring. I made my own and, for me, it didn't work that well with the 36 cell seed trays. I found some were soaking up too much water and others were too dry. I think it may have been because some of the cells may have had more soil in them than others (some that I didn't compact the potting mix as much as others) so that they weren't in as good of contact with the mats because of the weight difference. Could be because I didn't hold my tongue right. :? I don't really know but I went back to the old fashioned way. I may try it again next year and try to fill the cells more evenly just to see.
High Altitude Gardener zone 4B or 5A

Sasha
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Re: Anybody tried this? (capillary self-watering system)

LA47 wrote:I tried it this spring. I made my own and, for me, it didn't work that well with the 36 cell seed trays. I found some were soaking up too much water and others were too dry. I think it may have been because some of the cells may have had more soil in them than others (some that I didn't compact the potting mix as much as others) so that they weren't in as good of contact with the mats because of the weight difference. Could be because I didn't hold my tongue right. :? I don't really know but I went back to the old fashioned way. I may try it again next year and try to fill the cells more evenly just to see.
Thanks - I'll keep that in mind. Hopefully evenly packing soil among pots will help. I'm going to give this system a try early in the season to see if it's got potential.

Dillbert
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Re: Anybody tried this? (capillary self-watering system)

it works within its bounds - and by all means you want to get it set up and working before walking away for weeks.

the article says does not make a difference about the water being higher/lower. well, gravity has its way on absolutely everything, including capillary action, so yes it does make a difference. less height difference is better.

pay attention to the nylon rope specification. it has fine fibers, does not swell up. it is important to use the right rope material.

"volumes" - watering a 20 gallon containerized plant with one length of rope is not going to work out so well. 2-3 gallon size works with one, over that you'll need to think about multiple ropes around and into the middle of the pot.

also important - how much water is required / day and how long will you be absent?
a big plant in a big pot can easily require 5+ gallons of watering per day. a two gallon bucket with feeds to 4-5-6 pots is an unrealistic expectation.....

sepeters
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Re: Anybody tried this? (capillary self-watering system)

This wick watering system is very inexpensive and is commonly used in hydroponics. It is probably the least expensive route you could go and is very simple, but not really any hydroponic growers first choice.

I have used a method similar to this, but not outside. I think it would work for what you intend it for, depending on a few variables. How big are your pots? What are your crops and how much water do they require every day? What is your growing medium; how much water does it retain/how well does it drain and how well do the plants tolerate having wet feet without water circulation? What are the plants fertilization needs? Will this watering system interfere with that or conversely will you be able to auto-fertilize by adding nutrients to your reservoir? If there are a lot of animals, mosquitoes or other pests in the area you may need to find a way to keep the reservoir covered so it doesn't get over turned or infested in your absence. :wink:

In any case you want to set it up and do a test run for at least the amount of time you intend to be absent so you can make whatever modifications are necessary to keep your plants alive. When you are testing it mark the water level when you first fill it and every day after that, at the same time. Be sure you are also noting the average daily temperature and amount of sun the plants get so you can make the necessary adjustments later in the season when temps are higher and sunlight hours are longer. :)

It may be easier for you to implement this system by using a large tray that sits directly under the plants and feed the nylon lengths up from the reservoir into the drainage holes at the bottom of the containers to about midway up. Of course, this works better when set up at the time of potting/transplanting. I have six 1 gallon containers (each with one large plant) and have used 1 5/8" thick braided nylon rope hanging down into the water reservoir. The plants sit on a re-purposed oven rack, which in turn sits atop evenly spaced concrete blocks above the water line (the rack and blocks serve to keep the containers out of the water). The ropes reached all the way to the very bottom of the reservoir with a few extra inches to spare, in case the water became shallow in my absence. The reservoir was just an old plastic storage container that was larger than the oven rack and about 3 feet deep.

If you use plastic be sure to let it sit with water in it for at least 24 hours first and drain that water out. The purpose of this is to keep toxins from the plastic from leaching into the water and poisoning the plants. Dispose of the water into the gutter or down a drain; it's no good for watering.

I now use a different set up, but that method worked for me for a while before I was able to upgrade. As long as you don't have huge containers that get full sun and require several gallons of water a day or poorly draining soil this should work for you just fine. :)

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