From the Archives: 4/21/2010
I read on PineCam.com
forums that some people use wicks to water their plants the perfect amount. I am a notorious over / under water-er, so I though I would give it a try. After looking up several (and quite expensive) methods online, I decided to try my own. PLEASE NOTE: I am not sure how well all this will work yet. I will add comments on how things go later. Also note: I do think that the water containers will probably need to be painted
at some point or covered with foil so that light doesn't cause algae to grow in the reservoirs. UPDATE: Well it has been two days and I have discovered that my 'wick' rope is too efficient! The plant soil is very damp all the way to the top. I removed the second wick from the larger pots and pulled the wicks down so that only an inch or two is in the pots instead of going 2/3 the way up. I believe this will help, however, I may just have to go with thinner rope to prevent too much water from going up. I am pretty excited however, as this test was really to see if the principal would work with large pots for indoor tomatoes. It appears that I will only need one rope wick per large pot!
Large container... in this case I am using a cat litter for one and soda bottle for the other. Both have been rinsed carefully. Smaller pots paired with the larger containers. Rope for wicking water from the large container to the smaller pot. I am using bright green nylon. Test your rope in a cup of water first to be sure the water will move up the rope.
Remove label from Soda bottle and cut off top. Pots will now fit into the larger water reservoir.
Cut rope for wick so that it will go from the bottom to about 1/3 up the pot. (I later found that 1/3 was often too much in the top pot and reduced to about one inch, or one half inch for plants that don't like too much water.)
Cut a star shape in the bottom of the center of the pot. The star shape will hold the wick firmly in place after you push it in from the bottom.
Push wick into the pot from the bottom. I use a little damp paper towel to make sure dirt won't fall through into the reservoir.
Check the fit... the wick should reach to the bottom of the reservoir.
Carefully fill dirt around the wick.
Plant some seeds or pre-started plants.
Add water to the reservoir... Fill to a little below the pot.
I carefully added water to the seeds. I believe I may need to add water on the top of this one for a while until the seeds germinate and grow a little.
Great for pre-planted pots too! When using a pre-planted pot, use a marker or stick to push a hole deep into the soil on the bottom to get the wick pushed far up into the pot.
Air hole... I decided that the soda bottles may need a small air hole poked so that the water could freely move up the wick without suffering from a vacuum situation in the bottle. Probably isn't necessary, but did it anyway.
I like the cat litter containers since you don't have to remove the pot to add water.