Create your own self-watering seedling planter from an empty milk container to bring a little self-sufficiency to your garden on a low budget.
By Mat Pember and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon
DIY Garden Projects (Hardie Grant, 2016) by Mat Pember and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon includes 38 hands-on DIY projects to transform your backyard into the picturesque garden of your dreams; they even have a few projects designed to get the kids involved! In the following excerpt, the pair show you an easy garden hack to make Self-Watering Seedling Milk Containers.
I never really came to grips with the scale of the dairy industry until I had kids. Within a couple of years my partner gave birth to two beautiful little girls and before we knew it, both of them turned into milk monsters.
Milk is everything for a milk monster. It is their mornings, their nights, their middle of the nights and, when in doubt, it is any other time of day they start misbehaving and tearing the place apart. I still don’t feel completely comfortable that my children’s main source of nourishment comes from a farm animal that goes moo, but I am comfortable and confident that I am now truly a parent. We now duly pay taxes and contribute to the economy because our kids drink most of our income in milk.
Rather than live in fear at the idea of an empty bottle of milk when the monsters are calling, shift your focus to creating a handy planting device, because a bottle can be easily converted into a self-watering planter. A planter that waters itself you say?! Yes, it is possible to build a mini wicking planter using nothing more than an old milk container and some simple household materials.
This could be the beginning of the end of the milk horror story, and the time you start feeding the monsters more vegetables instead.
Time: Under an hour
Difficulty Rating: ‘A piece of cake, with a cherry on top’
Budget: Under 20 dollars
1. Cut the plastic milk bottle horizontally about a third of the way down, just underneath the handle. You want this to be even, so rather than free-styling it, make a line and follow it.
2. Great start. The top section that has the handle will be flipped upside down to become the planting section, and the bottom part of the bottle is now the water reservoir.
3. Fill the reservoir with about 30 millimeters (1-1/4 inches) of water.
4. Grab your old cotton t-shirt. It’s time to create your ‘wick’, which will help pull the water from the reservoir to the soil where your seedling will use it. Have you ever dipped a tissue in a glass of water and watched the water travel vertically through the fabric? That’s what your cloth will do, too. Cut a 20-by-100 millimeter (3/4-by-4 inches) strip from your t-shirt.
5. Push the wick through the bottom of the planter – where the lid once was – leaving half of it DANGLING.
6. Staple the top of the wick using a conventional office or domestic stapler. This will keep it from slipping.
7. Cut a cross into the lid.
8. Feed the wick through the lid and screw it back onto the milk bottle. This will allow the wick to DRAW WATER up into the planter, while the cap will prevent soil from falling into the reservoir.
9. Transformation is nearly complete. Now, combine the two sections to create the Optimus Prime of small space gardening.
10. Fill up the planter with premium organic potting mix. You know, the good stuff. The stuff that SMELLS LIKE DARK CHOCOLATE.
11. Now, take your seedling of choice and plant it into your soil. Ideally you want a plant that can mature in this small space, such as a variety of lettuce or a basil plant. Water it in so that the soil is damp. The wick will draw water from the reservoir below and replenish the plant as required. Top up from time to time or as the water level drops.
Behold! A thing of inexpensive, functional, unbridled BEAUTY. Wicking beds for everyone!