Tag Archives: irrigation

Trust the System!!!!

Great news!! my plants are coming back. My magical trick? I stopped watering them.

Yes, it appears that I was overwatering. I stopped watering for several days to allow the soil to dry out.  I picked off the dead leave and left it alone for a couple of days. After that, I  watered from the bottom like I was supposed to be doing. I can’t explain why I spent all that time making these self-watering containers and then watering them like normal.

The moral of the story, trust the system!!


Tutorial: DIY Earthbox in a 5 Gallon Bucket

 Here is my version of a subirrigation/Earthbox. To learn more about the benefits of this type of plant watering system, check out this link https://paperchaise.wordpress.com/2009/05/14/d-i-y-sub-irrigation/


  • 1 – 5 Gallon bucket
  • 1 – 12×12 vinyl tile, cut to the diameter of the container.
  • 1 – 24″ x 24″ piece of mesh
  • 3  –  3″ pieces of  PVC pipe (or small plastic containers). I used both 1.5″ and 2″ PVC
  • 1 – knee -hi stocking


  • Drill and drill bits
  • Saw (optional)
  • Hole saw drill bit


 Prep Work:

1) Cut the PVC to 3″ pieces. If you don’t have a saw, ask if they can cut it for you at your home improvement store

2) Drill several holes into what will be the bottom of the PVC (see picture below)Photo_050609_004

3) Cut the vinyl tile into a circle. The diameter of the circle will need to be slighter smaller than the inside of the container. In order to get the correct size, I placed the tile on the container and traced around. I cut just inside (1/4″-1/2″) that line

(see pciture below)


4) Cut a circular hole into the vinyl tile slightly smaller than the diameter of the PVC. To accomplish this, I traced around the pvc and cut just inside the circle (1/8″)

5) Punch a dozen or so small holes in the vinyl tile  to allow for the humidity of the water to have contact with the soil

6) Drill a small hole (1″) into the side of the container, making sure the hole is below the 3″ mark (or below the level of the dirt) . This hole was serve as an overflow valve and a place to add water






 1) Place PVC  inside of the mesh. Make sure that the holes in the PVC are at the bottom


 2) Gather the mesh together and thread it thru the hole in the vinyl tile. This mesh covered PVC will serve as your wick. As water enters the hole on the side of  the bucket, it will come into contact with the soil in the PVC (via the uneven bottom and holes on the sides) and will be sucked up by the soil and roots.


 3) Even out the mesh, ensuring that the PVC is visible


 4) Place the knee-hi stocking over the mesh covered PVC (not pictured) . The knee-hi will act as a safe-guard against soil erosion


 5) Place the 2 other pieces of PVC inside the container


 6) Place the vinyl tile, pvc side down, into the container.

7) Add soil, making sure to press the soil into the PVC. Make sure you are using Potting Mix, not garden soil.


 8) Continue filing with potting soil


D.I.Y. Sub-Irrigation

I’ll admit it. I have a teeny, tiny, itsty little fascination with self watering/sub-irrigation containers. Ok, so maybe it is a slight obsession. But I can’t help it!!! When I start a new project I always get so excited. It doesn’t help that making them also gives me a reason to break out my table saw and buy a set of hole saws!


In my excitement, I have come across several different versions. Using these tutorials, I have come up with my own DIY version (which I hope to post some time this week). Anyhow, here are some really great ideas for creating self watering/sub-irrigation/earthboxes.


If you are unfamiliar with the concept, the basic concept is that you place the water under the plants/dirt and provide a means for the plant/roots to draw water up as it needs it.  Basically, you are watering the root system (This is make it less likely (but not impossible) to overwater your plants. Also, not having to constantly expose your leaves to watering is healthier and helps avoid disease.



  • Water your plants weekly instead of daily (depending on the size of the container)
  • Use less water
  • Less likely to over/under water your plants
  • Provide water directly to where the plants need them
  • No concerns about weeds, soil quality and insects