I originally made my own two-bucket self watering, self feeding vegetable planter. They work quiet well, however, after some thought I have designed a single bucket system without sacrificing the watering feature that a two bucket system offers.
In a two bucket system the bottom bucket is where the water is stored for the plant. The top bucket contains the soil and allows the water to wick up through holes that are drilled in the top bucket's bottom. A larger hole allows a 'wicking cup' to sit the bottom of the 'top' bucket so some of the soil rests below the water line which allows the water to wick up into the upper bucket.
I have redesigned this system to allow the use of a single bucket which then saves time, labor and material. You eliminate the need for an extra bucket, or better yet you get two planters for the 'price' of one!
Here are some of the advantages of this type of system.
1. Use less water versus the same vegetable planted straight into the ground (about 70% less) One reason is the bucket has a lid and only a small opening where the stem is keeping the water from evaporating as fast as open ground... plus you just put the exact amount of water until is starts to flow out the overflow hole - then you stop watering
2. Use less fertilizer. Because the fertilizer strip lays at the top of the bucket, the lid prevents rain water from leaching it out. When adding fertilizer to a vegetable planted straight into the ground, the fertilizer will leach out very quickly causing you to use more, pollute water runoff as well
3. NO WEEDING!!! Because the lid is on it keeps weeds from growing. This saves time a
4. You may have to still worry about bugs - but not those who burrow and less likely the crawling type bugs as it is harder for them to get to your plants
5. Produces more fruit. It has been proven that a properly designed planter will produce more fruit as it gets just the amount of water and fertilizer it needs and will last all growing season
6. Saves space - these planters can be housed almost anywhere, in your yard, driveway, back deck - anywhere they can get sun. I planted my garden very early before spring really had come. I moved them into my garage when the weather forecast called for close to or freezing temps. Then I wheeled them out with a dolly into the sun for the day. This way I was getting ripened veggies way before my neighbor's garden
7. Extended production. You can bring your plants in when first frost is forecast then put them back out for as long as the weather holds. Giving you extra bounty into the fall. It is not unheard of for some plants to be brought indoors once the weather gets too cool and continue to produce indoor using a grow light.
8. Can be reused... at the end of the growing season you can remove the plants... and next year just lay a new strip of fertilizer and plant again.
9. Easy to maintain. I water my plants in the morning and in the evening... it takes just a minute
10. When it rains your plant will not get over watered and hey, plants love rain. I usually shower my plants down after sundown each night as well
Step 1: Materials & Tools Needed
A plastic bucket & lid ( this item is a square bucket)
Plastic PVC pipe - approximately 36" long at least 2" diameter to 3" dia
Plastic PVC pipe - 1" dia
Potting Mix - very important, do not use dirt, soil, potting soil - use only potting mix - if you google 'Earthbox' you will see the inventor has determined several important aspects for proper growth of plants.....
Fertilizer (I prefer organic)
Lime in pellet form (if planting certain vegetables)
Tools needed:Drill w/ a 1/4 inch bit
Hand Saw or Hack Saw or Reciprocating Saw
Ideas on where to get Buckets: I got these nice square buckets from a local barbecue restaurant... I believe many barbecue joints use a similar vendor. They get many of their food and ingredients in these buckets - baked beans, margarine, slaw, sauce etc. The location I get these from has 30-60 at any given time as they don't throw them away and generally use them but will give them to you if you ask. Make sure you get the lids to go with them.
PVC: you should be able to go to a construction site and ask to pick up scraps - I got all my scrap that way. You may also find short pieces at a big hardware store like Home Depot or Lowe's as they will cut PVC for people and have short scraps left over and generally will not charge you for it.
Let's get started