I made this to keep my pot of dragon trees tree alive while I was out of town for 5 weeks. It's a bunch of big trees in a small pot so they need to be watered pretty often and I didn't feel like calling in friend favors to stop by every other day for more than a month. Those gel packs, plastic bags, 2 liter bottles, plant wicks, etc wouldn't work because they don't hold or move enough water. (The tree goes through about a cup and a half of water a day.) And commercial timed pumps things were expensive. It worked so well I've kept using it even when I'm not on vacation. It's been working perfectly every day for two years. As long as I remember to fill it up once a month.
It's not the cheapest solution, but it's a lot cheaper than the commercial versions I found (and those even looked a little cheap to me). Some would have required me to have a running hose in my house for the whole time I was on vacation, which sounds like an invitation to a flooded house to me. This one costs much less (You can do it for less than $30 depending on what parts you have lying around and how much you bargain hunt) and is an easy afternoon project.
It's very simple to make: The most complex part is programing the vacation timers.
It's reliable: It always delivers the exact same amount of water, and there's no chance of flooding your house while on vacation.
- 1 five gallon plastic bucket (or some other reservoir for water like a plastic garbage can.)
- 1 smaller, plastic tub. (Like those disposable tubs for leftovers, or an old Cool-whip container, etc.)
- 2 Vacation timers. ($12 each) Important:They must be able to be able to turn on for only one minute, which means you can't get the cheapest ones that go by the hour.
- 2 small submersible pumps like the ones used in small fountains. ($7-$15 each) I used these (if still available) Theseare a good substitute. Or just Google "small fountain pump"
- Several feet of vinyl tubing. ($1 a foot) (Make sure it fits the outlet of your pump. Mine was 1/4" inner diameter)
- Several medium size binder clips. (Can substitute hot glue if you don't ever want to reuse any of the parts of this project.)
- Ground fault interrupter (Recommended, though not required. But it's always a good idea when water and household current are this close together.) ($15-$30)
- Craft knife.
- Magic marker.
Time:About 30 minutes (or more if your vacation timers have weird cryptic instructions.)
Step 1: Overview
So I made this two pump, two reservoir system that delivers exactly the same amount of water every time no mater how inaccurate the pumps and timers are.
The pumps are on two separate timers and run at two different times, one in the main reservoir pumps water into the top one. When it runs for too long and the excess water simply pours back into the bucket. When that one is complete the top pump pumps the container dry, which makes sure that you get exactly the same amount of water every time. No worry about over or under watering.
Lets get started!
- Though now that I think about it, maybe a pressure switch and a balance might work.... hmm. Next time.