This is my first instructable. I think this project may already be on here somewhere, but this is my take on it. I saw someone on youtube make this project once and I wanted to give it my own shot.
Things you'll need:
1. 18 gallon Roughneck Tote - $9
2. Bag of Dirt - $8
3. Drainage Tubing - $7
4. Rope 6 ft. - $3
5. 3/4 inch PVC
6. Whatever kind of seeds you want
All in all, I plan on making about 3 of these with the stuff I bought. It comes to about $15-$20 per box with seeds and everything.
Step 1: Drill Your Lid
Take the lid of the storage box and drill out holes randomly.
This will allow drainage for the soil if it is ever over watered.
Step 2: Add Water and Measure
I put 5 gallons of water in and measured up from the bottom. This will tell me where my false bottom will go and also where my overflow holes will go.
Step 3: Drill More Holes!
Drill a couple overflow holes in the back of the box. This will allow any extra water a way out in case you overwater.
Step 4: Cut Off Your Top
Take a box cutter or drywall knife and cut out the inside of the lid. You'll still need the rim that snaps on, though. So don't throw that out!
Step 5: Mark and Cut Holes for Your Tubes
Take a pencil and mark 2 holes for where your drainage tubes will hold the false bottom. BE SURE TO CUT THE HOLES SLIGHTLY SMALLER THAN THE DIAMETER OF THE TUBE.
This will allow the false bottom a tight fit around the ribs of the drainage tubes.
Step 6: Measure and Cut the Drainage Tubes
Remember that measurement we took when we filled the box with water? This is where that will come in handy. You'll want to measure and cut the drainage tubes 1 1/2 inches - 2 inches taller than the water measurement we made. In my case, I cut them at about 6 1/2 inches.
Then fit the false bottom onto the drainage tubes.
Step 7: Drill Hols at the Bottom of the Tubes
Drill holes at the bottom of the drainage tubes. This will allow water to soak into the dirt and wick up into the top part of the box.
Step 8: Cut a Hole for the Snorkel
You'll need a way to get the water into the bottom of the box. I decided that a snorkel would be the best method. Simply trace the diameter of the PVC in the corner of the false bottom and cut it out.
Step 9: Pack the Tubes Full of Dirt and Place in the Box
Make sure you pack the dirt into the tubes really tight to prevent it from falling out. The insert the false bottom into the box.
Insert the two ends of the rope in through some of the holes in the false bottom. This will allow for additional wicking, pulling the water up from the bottom of the box and into the dirt.
Step 10: Fill With Dirt and Plant Some Seeds!
Next, fill the box with your dirt. BE SURE THAT YOU DON'T CRUSH THE FALSE BOTTOM.
The false bottom is kind of flimsy. You may want to add additional supports at the bottom to keep it from falling in. In my case, I was VERY careful about adding the dirt and made sure I didn't crush it.
Then, plant your seeds! I'm putting in a few carrots and spinach.
Step 11: Cover With a Trashbag
Finally, cover the whole thing with a black trashbag. Cut a hole for the snorkel, slide the bag down, snap on the lid from earlier, and trim the excess bag off.
Once the bag is in place, cut slits in the trashbag for the plants to come through. This will aid in keeping water from evaporating and allow the soil to remain moist for longer.
You're Done! Enjoy your self watering planter box. You can look down through the snorkel to see where the water level is at and add water as needed. I haven't had to add water to mine for days now and it's doing great!