How to Build Your Own Growing Containers

Step 11: Filltainer Costs and More Directions

Picture of Filltainer Costs and More Directions
EarthTainer 046.jpg
Here is a summary of what it cost to build my FillTainer:
06.47 -- 10 Gal. Blue Roughneck Tote
01.95 -- 15' of 1/4" O.D. white vinyl tubing
04.56 -- 1/4" Float Valve (as used in swamp coolers)
06.26 -- Hose Bibb which screws onto existing hose bibb (with threaded hole for adapter which secures supply end of 1/4" tubing)
00.28 -- Brass insert (keeps vinyl tube end from collapsing)
01.38 -- Brass adapter (1/8" MPT on one end; compression fitting for 1/4" tubing on the other end)

$20.90 (plus tax) -- TOTAL
To connect to each WaterMizer GrowTainer, you'll also need two Brass Barbed Fittings (3/8" I.D.) and an appropriate length of 3/8" I.D. Clear Vinyl. These two items will add another $4 to the cost of each GrowTainer.
At this point, the FillTainer has a float valve installed and water in the FillTainer is 5-1/2" deep. Now drill a 3/8" hole through the lid of the FillTainer tote. You'll see that the clear vinyl tube is a compression fit through a hole this size. Only problem is the lid shape collects rainwater, and the rainwater can't drain into the FillTainer around the tube. My tote had a rectangular shape which was the lowest part of the lid, so I drilled a 1/4" hole in all four corners of that shape so water won't sit on top of the lid. The lid shades the water below it so algae won't grow AND it keeps airborne debris and stuff falling from trees out of the water.
The brass fittings are just for WEIGHT to keep the tube ends under water where they belong. Insert one fitting into each end of the tube. I learned the simplest way to prime the siphon tubes is with a running garden hose. Simply shove the end of the running hose under water in the FillTainer and use your hand as a 'coupling' between the hose end and the brass fitting on the siphon tube. The siphon tube will quickly fill and purge any air out into the GrowTainer reservoir. As quickly as the siphon tube is primed, remove the garden hose from the FillTainer. If you watch closely at this point, you're likely to see water moving through the siphon tube to perfectly equalize the water level in the FillTainer AND the GrowTainer. I like to call this "proof of concept." This natural siphon action has no choice but to work -- as long as any air bubble in the highest part of the siphon tube isn't allowed to get too big.
OPTIONAL: I didn't want some kid jerking my siphon tube out of the GrowTainer so I drilled a small hole near the top end of the filler tube and used a black plastic (the white/clear ones are NOT UV resistant) cable tie to secure the tube in place withOUT squeezing the tube shut. Trim off the excess cable tie and it should look like the 2nd image below.
In the first image, you'll notice I have TWO tubes because this FillTainer is used to keep TWO GrowTainers automatically topped off. It's may be easier to run one tube to the first GrowTainer and then a 2nd tube to the next GrowTainer and so on, but I don't like the idea of multiple planters sharing the same water. It makes it too easy for water-borne disease to mess with the whole set-up. I'm convinced it's better to run individual tubes from the water source to each individual planter. Keep in mind that as long as the tube is full AND both ends are under water, it doesn't even matter if the tube runs along the ground -- distance doesn't matter either -- it will STILL work. In my case, I had only bought 8' of this clear vinyl tube and so running them both direct from the FillTainer was something I could do without buying more tubing.
Next spring, I plan to build two or three MORE GrowTainers and I've already developed an improved watering system which is gravity fed AND won't lose siphon over time like these elevated tubes do. When I finish the Instructable for the "Ultimate" One-Bucket WaterMizer GrowTainer, it will include instructions on how to build the improved watering system, and I'll link to it from here.
Now you have some beautiful growing containers AND a fully automatic watering system, what could be better than that? See the next step for some final images which didn't find a place in any of the steps. Happy Building! Happy Growing! To our health!
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