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Sub Irrigation Planter

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Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  TSHRED on 1/2/2015, 11:59 am

I've read two ways to build these.
One with gravel and one with drain pipe only.

Anyone familiar with SIP systems?
I'm considering building one.
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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  sanderson on 1/2/2015, 1:51 pm

I can't remember what your system is called by some of the members. Hopefully, someone will post the "Search" word or words so you can read up on what they have tried.

From what you have posted today, it sounds like you are not doing All New Square Foot Gardening as described by Mel Bartholomew. ??? I say this because you are building 12" deep boxes, which is twice the depth (and twice the expense) needed for the blended mix and the root systems of most veggies. Exceptions would be long root veggies such as carrots, parsnips, potatoes, etc. All that is needed is 6" for the Mix/Medium and a couple of inches for the mulch = 8".
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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  nosmok on 1/2/2015, 1:56 pm

I've built several of these for PVC flower boxes, using 2" PVC pipe.  The pipe is just slip fit, not glued, and doubles back on itself with 90 degree fittings.  One end is capped and the other elbows up above the soil line.  Every 4 inches, I drilled a hole large enough to push the knotted end of heavy COTTON rope sections that will wick the water up to the roots.  I stuck drip emitters from my irrigation system to keep the tubes full of water.  Works great and is maintenance free.
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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  TSHRED on 1/2/2015, 2:31 pm

sanderson wrote:I can't remember what your system is called by some of the members.  Hopefully, someone will post the "Search" word or words so you can read up on what they have tried.

From what you have posted today, it sounds like you are not doing All New Square Foot Gardening as described by Mel Bartholomew.  ???  I say this because you are building 12" deep boxes, which is twice the depth (and twice the expense) needed for the blended mix and the root systems of most veggies.  Exceptions would be long root veggies such as carrots, parsnips, potatoes, etc.  All that is needed is 6" for the Mix/Medium and a couple of inches for the mulch = 8".

I do want to grow carrots. I can get good soil at 39 dollars per cu yd so for two 3x6 a little over $50 I can fill both boxes not counting amendments I might add. No that bad.

I can get rough redwood 2x12 at $2.69 per foot so 36 feet isn't gonna break the bank either. 

carrot
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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  TSHRED on 1/2/2015, 2:34 pm

nosmok wrote:I've built several of these for PVC flower boxes, using 2" PVC pipe.  The pipe is just slip fit, not glued, and doubles back on itself with 90 degree fittings.  One end is capped and the other elbows up above the soil line.  Every 4 inches, I drilled a hole large enough to push the knotted end of heavy COTTON rope sections that will wick the water up to the roots.  I stuck drip emitters from my irrigation system to keep the tubes full of water.  Works great and is maintenance free.
Sounds intriguing. Any pictures of the process?

I wish I could post links to SIP's but today is my first day and the site won't let me post links yet. Sad
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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  sanderson on 1/2/2015, 2:40 pm

Does the "soil" contain dirt or sand? Is it a composted mix? Does it have some composted barnyard manure? Are there small pieces of wood in it? Peat moss, vermiculite or perlite?

At this point, I just have to ask you if you have read All New Square Foot Gardening, 1st or 2nd Edition, by Mel Bartholomew? It should be available at your local library. Or gently used off eBay or Amazon. Very Happy
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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  TSHRED on 1/2/2015, 2:56 pm

No I haven't read it. I'm very familiar with gardening however. I understand the need for an airy well draining mix for planters. Not sure yet what the soil mix is. I believe it's screened topsoil and mushroom compost. I'm waiting on a call back from another soil supplier also.
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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  nosmok on 1/2/2015, 3:09 pm

I used potting soil in my first box, but am supplementing it with MM now.  I imagine you can start with MM.  It would be easier to replant with MM for sure!



Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures when I built them, but you can see the tops of the fill tubes.  BTW the boxes are made from PVC and have dripp holes on the bottom.  They should last many years.
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Homemade Sub-Irrigated Planter

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 2/1/2017, 7:34 pm

I made a sub-irrigated planter last year, actually remembered to take pictures, and am finally getting around to posting about it. Hopefully in time for those of you who want more squares, but need to use containers for one reason or another. I did more reading after making this, and way have lucked out vs the dimensions of the wicks/wells vs the dimensions/volume of growing medium - so note that it's not quite anything goes. Also, keep in mind that the completed tub will be quite heavy; I had to use a handtruck to move it.

This is the thrifty version. The tub, non-matching lid, and PVC pipe were from three different curbs. I *think* the inorganic fertilizer was from a Craigslist curb alert (I don't use it in my SFG, so it's been in the garage for awhile and all I really remember was that I didn't buy it) and the dolomite/garden lime was from freecycle. I saved the yogurt containers myself, and I bought burlap on sale only because I ran out of burlap Basmati rice bags.

Step 1 - Yogurt containers in the tub to act as wells, and support. They have holes cut in them to allow water flow, but not so many that they will lose integrity. The two that are upside-down still have their lids to help them hold shape/support weight.


Step 2 - Cut the lid to inset into the tub and rest on the yogurt containers, without blocking the wick wells. You can see I didn't cut it very precisely. At some point I also drilled a hole into the side of the tub, opposite the PVC fill pipe, just below the inset.


Step 3 - Burlap both to act as a wick, and to help contain the modified MM so that it doesn't seep down those imprecisions in my inset 'floor'


Step 4 - Peat moss wicks (already wet/saturated) packed into the wells, and up the corners.


Step 5 - modified MM with more than 1/3 peat, per Windmere's suggestion for EarthBoxes, with 2c dolomite/garden lime mixed in, and a strip of 2c of inorganic fertilizer in the center (which then gets covered with more mMM; not shown)


Step 6 - Added a plastic 'mulch' cover, and transplanted Burpee's Butterbush seedlings. This was done very late for squash my area - early August.


Step 7 - Amazingly, I got a few tiny, delicious squash for my efforts. The plants got trashed by a hard rain and it wasn't warm enough for them to recover. First frost was only a few days after this photo.


This year I will try carrots in this planter, and the mini butternut squash will get to move up to an Earthtainer (large sub-irrigated planter.)
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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  sanderson on 2/3/2017, 4:19 am

Thank you for sharing and posting photos of the steps.

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Re: subirrigation planter

Post  ronbart on 2/12/2017, 7:13 pm

I have some grow barrels that I made out of 55 gal. plastic barrels. The top of the barrel is the bottom of the planter and the bottom of the barrel is cut to make the platform above a 6" water reservoir. The planter is about 24" high with 17" of soil. That is about the limit that I get good wicking action from the soil. I use a mix similar to mel's mix but I use perlite and a little different ratios. I will add sand for certain plants. In the spring I replace 1/3 to 1/2 of the soil because as the compost continues to break down through the season it doesn't wick as well but it makes an excellent garden amendment. I have  made small units using the same principle for inside my wife's large patio pots. Search youtube for grow barrels or grow buckets  and you will find a wealth of information.r
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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  RoOsTeR on 2/12/2017, 7:27 pm

We used to call these 'self watering box set ups' here on the forum. There are quite a few threads and good pics of what some members have done in the past. If memory serves, I think Mel's Mix worked very well in these boxes.

I think I've also heard them called earth boxes?

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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  trolleydriver on 2/12/2017, 7:29 pm

ronbart wrote:I have some grow barrels that I made out of 55 gal. plastic barrels. The top of the barrel is the bottom of the planter and the bottom of the barrel is cut to make the platform above a 6" water reservoir. The planter is about 24" high with 17" of soil. That is about the limit that I get good wicking action from the soil. I use a mix similar to mel's mix but I use perlite and a little different ratios. I will add sand for certain plants. In the spring I replace 1/3 to 1/2 of the soil because as the compost continues to break down through the season it doesn't wick as well but it makes an excellent garden amendment. I have  made small units using the same principle for inside my wife's large patio pots. Search youtube for grow barrels or grow buckets  and you will find a wealth of information.r
ronbart ... can you post photos of your grow barrels? I've got a plastic barrel that I could use.

I was just looking at something similar to what Beetles posted earlier.
http://growagoodlife.com/constructing-18-gal-self-watering-containers-swc/

Here is a 55 hallon barrel verison.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGF72sOwgJI

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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 2/12/2017, 8:09 pm

RoOsTeR wrote:We used to call these 'self watering box set ups' here on the forum. There are quite a few threads and good pics of what some members have done in the past. If memory serves, I think Mel's Mix worked very well in these boxes.

I think I've  also heard them called earth boxes?
EarthBoxes are a pre-made version: https://earthbox.com/
City Pickers is another pre-made version that I've seen at Home Depot.
GrowBox is yet another: http://www.agardenpatch.com/Garden-Patch-Grow-Box/
EarthTainer is not premade, but refers to a larger self-watering system made following particular instructions:
http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2011/04/a_revolutionary_way_to_grow_tomatoes.html
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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  CitizenKate on 2/12/2017, 8:46 pm

I've been using sub-irrigating planters for about 5 years, now. "Self-watering" is also a term for them I see often.  The ones I made up until last year were made with 5 gallon buckets.  They have worked pretty well, but last year I tried making some with porous shopping bags, and the results were astonishing.  I'm going to be building a bunch more of them pretty soon, so if anyone's interested in that, I can post photos.

I use a slightly modified version of  Mel's Mix in them now.  The original recipe didn't work very well in my containers - it didn't seem to wick much water up from the reservoirs, and they were pretty dry on top, so I tried adding some organic top soil to make it a little heavier, and that worked much better.
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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 2/12/2017, 9:12 pm

CitizenKate wrote:I've been using sub-irrigating planters for about 5 years, now.  "Self-watering" is also a term for them I see often.  The ones I made up until last year were made with 5 gallon buckets.  They have worked pretty well, but last year I tried making some with porous shopping bags, and the results were astonishing.  I'm going to be building a bunch more of them pretty soon, so if anyone's interested in that, I can post photos.

I use a slightly modified version of  Mel's Mix in them now.  The original recipe didn't work very well in my containers - it didn't seem to wick much water up from the reservoirs, and they were pretty dry on top, so I tried adding some organic top soil to make it a little heavier, and that worked much better.
I would love to see photos/instructions! I have ordered more tomato seed varieties than I have room for, and I don't want to wait until next year for any of them!
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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  CitizenKate on 4/23/2017, 7:55 pm

I promised earlier to resurrect this topic when I got around to building my new sub-irrigated ("self-watering") containers.  In addition to my SFG beds, I also raise some of my plants in sub-irrigating containers.

Last year, I decided to use porous bags as growing containers (which sat in tubs with a couple of inches of water in them), rather than the solid plastic buckets that I've used for the past several years, because of how much better my plants did in the bags compared to the buckets.

Last year, I just experimented with Walmart shopping bags, and the difference in how the plants did in them vs the solid plastic buckets was pretty dramatic.  This year, I discovered that Walmart doesn't always keep those bags in stock, so I decided to just make my own, using the directions provided here:  How to sew a grow bag.

If you don't care to sew the bag, and you can find the porous tyvek shopping bags that many stores sell (not the solid plastic ones), those will work great, too.

In its simplest form, I just take one of these bags, fill with growing mix, set it in a tub with a couple of inches of water, add the plant, then just keep the reservoir topped up.

The plants did very well with just this minimal setup, but as I was testing them, I did notice some additional features I decided to build in to my next version of this container.
1)  Some plants need trellises, or some kind of framework over the top of them to support a protective covering, such as bridal tulle, or frost cloth.
2)  The containers needed some kind of wide-based stand to prevent taller plants from getting tipped over in high winds.

So here is what I came up with.  The tub is a shallow lidded tote (the kind that fits under a bed), that's big enough around the bag to hold enough water to last through a hot day.  The lid keeps bugs and debris out, and helps keep water in.


Simple watering tube, that just goes down the same hole the bag sits in.


Drainage holes to maintain no more than 2 inches of water in the bottom.


Here are some photos showing more detail of the PVC framework to make the stand and supports for various uprights:




The tub is fully enclosed in the frame, but since I don't glue the fittings and pipe together, the connections can be re-opened to remove the tub, if necessary.


I'll post more photos when I get plants into them and we can see how they do.
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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  CapeCoddess on 4/24/2017, 11:32 am

Wow!!! Shocked  this is so cool, Kate! Thanks for sharing. Now I know what to do with those old grocery bags getting torn and holey. Playing with the PVC tube and the joints must be like playing with Tinker Toys, yes?
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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  sanderson on 4/25/2017, 3:07 am

Wow, Kate! You are really creative with your tinker toys (PVC). Thanks for posting.

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Re: Sub Irrigation Planter

Post  CitizenKate on 4/25/2017, 8:24 pm

Tinker Toys, yes. I've had that though numerous times while playing with this stuff. Now, just gotta build 12 or 13 more.

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