Buenos Aires, by Noelia Diaco. Photo is not visible, used only for sharing on social networks.

Keeping our plants alive while we're away

December 20, 2011
We've had mixed luck growing plants on our terrace, mostly because we don't water them often enough. At the moment we have fairly healthy basil and mint plants growing, though, and since we'll be back in the Boston area for Christmas, I decided to build a self-watering system.

The basic idea came to me while eating lunch somewhere, and I sketched it on a piece of paper:

It's a very primitive, gravity-driven drip irrigation system. Water would drip on the plants from holes in a hose, connected to a jug, which would be filled occasionally from the faucet as well as from the rain (in the tub at the top).

The concept went through several iterations. I took out the rain catcher for the first build, and went to our local ferreteria with a translated list of supplies: a hose (manguera), jug (bidon), and duct tape (cinta adhesiva). Despite failing to communicate the purpose (una sistema de irrigaciĆ³n por gotea para mi terraza - the seller had no idea what I was talking about), I got everything on the list.

The first attempt involved the small planters that we already had. There were three problems: 1) I hadn't gotten a hose clamp (I had wanted a hose plug which they didn't have and forgot about clamps), so it was hard to seal the end. 2) I couldn't keep the hose positioned over the tiny planters, especially if the wind blew them around. 3) the hole I made in the jug to plug in the hose (via a connector) was leaking.

Failed first attempt
I sourced some sealant glue which so far seems to be waterproof, a hose clamp, a single wide planter, and more soil. This is the second attempt, now constructed:

The bucket is to catch a leak in the plug. The hose loops around under the soil, where it's poked with holes. The wildcard will be whether the holes in the buried hose are big enough to allow water to flow through (there needs to be some suction or the water won't move), but not big enough to drown the plants too quickly. We'll see when we return!

- Ben

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated before publishing. Comments with links (unless directly relevant to the post) will not be approved. No spam, please.