On May 8, I got around to planting my
outdoor container garden. I travel a lot, sometimes I’m away for a week or
more, and am not always around to water my garden. I wanted to plant a garden
that would succeed with a minimum amount of attention and that could be cared
for on my time schedule.
For that reason, I decided to construct
a self-watering wick system. The garden needs no moving parts, takes little
time to set up, is inexpensive to construct, and most importantly, will produce
a bounteous yield.
The wick system works on the basis of
capillary action, using the same law of physics that causes a napkin to wick up
water. In this instance, the two ends of the wick, 3/8? braided nylon rope,
hang down from the top container. The middle of the rope runs along the bottom
of the top container. The wick draws water up to the bottom of the top
container where it meets the planting mix. The mix draws the water up as the
plant uses it so it remains moist throughout the container, from bottom to top.
The reservoir holds enough water so it
doesn’t have to be watered for a week or more, but I try to fill it every five
days or so.
Here is the step-by-step construction
of the garden I made:
· 2 horticultural trays, 2? x 4? x 8?
· 10 inches nylon rope, 3/8? braided
· 1 roll Scotch tape
· 35 gallons planting mix, enriched
· 2 halves shipping pallet
· 10? x 10? panda plastic—heavy mil white/black polyethylene
· Marked bamboo dipstick
· Fertilizer, 3-part vegetative
· Cannabis plants—variety: 3 X Crazy
· Drill with ½? bit
· Sharp knife
· Tape measure
Using the tape measure, I drew a grid
at 12?, 24?, and 36? length of the top tray and then across the width at 6? and
18?. There were six spots where the lines intersected and would be used to hang
the rope wicks. These spots were drilled using a ½? bit.
I measured four 24? lengths of the rope
and wrapped either side of the mark with the tape so that it would not unravel
when it was cut. Then I cut the rope at each mark. Next I ran one end of the
first wick through the 12? x 6? hole and the other end through the 12? x 18?
hole. When the tray is placed upright the wick ends hang down. The other two
wicks should follow the same order.
I made my own enriched soil using coir
fiber pressed into bricks, old soil and my own compost/vermipost.
We sawed the shipping pallet in half
and placed both halves in the bottom tray, which was placed in the position it
would sit on the deck. I set up a small water pump to circulate the water in
the bottom tray and also an air pump with tubing and three bubblers to keep the
The top tray, with wicks hanging down,
fit on top of the pallets. I made sure the wicks hung through the slats. Then I
filled the top tray with the soil mix and placed the panda plastic on top of
the trays so it hung down like a tablecloth. This will reflect light and keep
the containers cool, even on the sunniest days.
I marked spots at 10?, 24?, and 38? and
cut a 6? X at each spot with the knife. Then I planted the 3 X Crazy plants and
watered the mix with water pH adjusted to 6.0 and 600 ppm of vegetative
fertilizer. Once the water started leaking into the bottom I filled the bottom
tray to the top of the pallets with the same water.
TIP OF THE MONTH FROM ASK ED®
QUICK GARDEN TIP
Placing upside down carpet, hay or
white plastic over the soil keeps it cool and limits evaporation of water. The
dry material also deters insects, because there is no food for them on the
Bottom tray. I inverted 6 inch
containers to hold the top tray so that tubing could easily be set in place and
to prevent vacuum effect. Notice wicks in top tray.
Water pump circulates the water in the
bottom tray while the bubblers, powered by the air pumps –operate it.
The double tray, planted May 8th
with 3X Crazy with cover on top. Side covers were taped on after photo