I ran out of EB space before I ran out of vegetable seedlings, so I plunked a few in some leftover pots. Then I noticed that the pots just fit into an 11x22 inch tray that happened to be lying near them. I filled the tray with water and presto, a "self-watering container". Two weeks later and they are still going strong. I have to refill the tray about every other day, the same as my EB's. Somehow this seems like it's too simple to work. Is there some drawback that I have overlooked?
For me, that easily-assessable open water means instant mosquitoes. But thats the only drawback I can see. They look like a brassica to me, so maybe they will need more root space eventually. What are they?
Depending on what kind of plants they are, this arrangement may provide too much water and not enough oxygen in the root zone. All of the better self-watering container designs provide an aeration chamber between the water chamber and the planting mix (except for a small wicking basket). This allows the roots to get much needed oxygen and keeps the roots from rotting. If your plants are the type that like to have "wet feet", maybe they'll do okay with your setup. Personally, I haven't had as much success with self-watering containers that have no aeration chamber.
KK and HBNC: you are right, they are Brussels Sprouts.
LJ: thanks for the link. Evidently lots of other people have tried this with fair success.
VVM: Hmm, you have a point about Oxygen. Perhaps if I made a few holes in the sides?
Since I have some other BSprouts in an EB, I think I'll continue this experiment just to see what will happen. I have some late germinating peppers I might try this way too.
Thanks for all the comments.
I'm guessing it would be a good idea to put some hydrogen peroxide solution into the water to add that extra molecule of oxygen. I was just reading up on it yesterday but darned if I can remember where it was. Sorry, I don't know the specifics. But it apparently helps in situations where rotting roots, standing water, or over-watering etc. can be a problem.
Here's an update on the standing water experiment. Everything I've tried this way has done well (except the Bsprouts I didn't dust before the bugs found them). In the picture three pepper plants are in the foreground, with some hotter ornamental peppers behind them. I had to refill the water trays every 3 days or so except when it rained. The angled stakes are a remnant of hurricane Irene, but all the plants survived. I think I'll try more this way next year, possibly seeking a more rugged water tray. (I stepped on one which of course didn't do the thin plastic any good.)
The trays are about 1.5 inches deep so that is the maximum water level. I often did not fill them full--maybe 1" deep. The 1 to 2 gallon pots all have holes either in the base or on the bottom edge. Drawing on EB recommendations, I applied a ring of 10-10-10 vegetable fertilizer when I potted them. The plants I tried were mostly medium sized like hot and sweet peppers, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. I'm going to try eggplant and Fennel next year. I don't want to try tall plants like tomatoes, cucumbers and beans or spreading plants like squash because of the support or spreading problem, and they are doing fine in the ground where I have them now.
Kiddie pools? Hmm. Maybe I should watch out for end-of-season sales at our outlet stores.
Gymgirl, I'm thinking the kiddie pool would be too deep, but perhaps holes could be drilled three inches or so up from the bottom to drain excess water. I don't think these would work on my sloped garden, though :(
Where hubby has been clearing out the running bamboo I've noticed some deep black soil. Probably from the years of fallen leaves that gather in that area. I can't wait to sow some seeds there next spring.
Okay, let me admit off the bat that I have not read this complete thread, just enough to peak my interest and to remind me of something I just became aware of recently.
I believe this information can help us understand why one person is successful with "plants growing in standing water" and others a dismal failure. Because of the perched water level principal, the answer could lie in the mix used in the container.