Self-Watering Containers

So I’ve been using the global buckets designs for a few weeks now, but I didn’t think it made any sense to write about them if I didn’t know how they worked. Global buckets are some designs made by a set of teenage boys, fixed on saving the world. For all of our sakes, it make it a lot easier to be able to put the pot wherever you want, and have it water itself for days. I decided to try the original stacked design, and the Ola irrigation design (pretty much two terracotta pots glued together). Both designs have their pros and cons, and furthermore, certain plants are definitely better suited to one system vs. the other.

original design, seen from top
planted: peas and carrots


original design seen from side view


1. The original design is very efficient at watering itself once the plants have roots, and hold a very substantial amount of water. I say when the plants have roots because, although basic osmosis contributes to how this set-up works (two buckets stacked, the space between is the reservoir, a cup with dirt links the two cavities and when the soil dries, water is pulled into it) the roots will also draw the water up. This is not so true as to with seeds. The other downside is that there is quite a bit of set-up involved. Drilling, and carving and measuring…. I could go on. But once the system was a go, it worked swimmingly.


Ola design
planted: cucumbers


Ola design,
Here you can see the water darkening
the soil as it is doing all through the
bucket under the top bit of dirt


2. The Ola design is definitely my favorite. no drilling or anything that complex. Put plainly, I took the two pots… and wait for it…. glued them together with one of the drainage holes sealed. That was it. After a coat of white paint over the top two inches or so to stall evaporation, I was done. Then I took a five gallon bucket and buried the contraption except for the painted (don’t be like me, bury all the non-painted pot to stop evaporation) bit so I could fill the cavity through the drainage hole.
Now if you think that cheap self watering containers that you can ignore for days at a time are a cool idea then I would head to the link below. If you then decide on the Ola system (which I highly recommend) you can use the following substitutions if you don’t have tile or caulk. For the tile just go out and find a rock big enough to cover the drainage hole (not hard to do), if you don’t have caulk, hot glue from a crafting hot glue gun works just as well and its more likely you have it on hand (or a friend that does). As a final note, you can directly plant seeds in this system without having to water by hand until they sprout.
When it comes to what plants work in the global buckets, the sky is the limit. Pretty much anything will do. The only limitation is that when using the Ola system, you will be planting around the bucket unless you bury the system using the bucket-saucer method, and then glue some PVC as a channel so to fill the reservoir. (easier than creating the original system in my humble teenage opinion)
Right now:


in 1. I have peas around the edge, and carrots in the middle as filler (can’t waste an inch of soil!)
             ( I was thoroughly pleased when I discovered I placed peas and carrots together.)   🙂
in 2. I have cucumbers
      If i haven’t said it enough, I like the Ola design better, it is cheaper, easier to make, and holds plenty of good old H20.

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