• Date JoinedJan 1, 2008
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Salty_Dog6 years ago
Hello sail4free, I just had to sign up and say, your homemade Earthtainers and watering system are the best i have seen!!!! And the instructions are just brilliant, detailed and well thought out with a good level of understanding. I had been wondering about an automated style watering system myself, incase you went away for a week etc... You concept is briliant, it doesn't even rely on the power being on ;)
sail4free (author)  Salty_Dog6 years ago
Thank you for your generous comments AND I'm glad you like the Instructable. I'm working on a simpler single-bucket planter for those not inclined to work with wood. I'm also working on an even simpler auto-waterer which is gravity fed and built from just two clear PET bottles (the ones soda and water come in). While I'm VERY happy with the performance of my WaterMizer GrowTainers (I need to go through and change away from the copyrighted "EarthTainer" name), the siphon tubes DO require vigilance to keep them primed. The "2nd Evolution" won't have that problem. Thanks again for leaving such a nice comment.
No worries at all.... you put the hard work, it shows... so the comments are deserved. Yes, i was wondering about the self priming nature of the tubes... I think you are right. A system with a little pressure might be the answer. I have seen them built with a cheap float valve inside the container to regulate water, but i guess that is starting to get costly if you had 12 GrowTainers etc. Ah well, it's all good fun.
sail4free (author)  Salty_Dog5 years ago
Yeah the float valves are about six bucks anymore, but the bigger issue is if the float is inside the GrowTainer water reservoir there is no good way to maintain or replace it when it starts leaking in the middle of the grow season. The FillTainer resolves the access issue and only requires ONE float for any number of containers on the same level.
Even though the inverted 'U' placement of the tubes I used is easy enough to prime with a garden hose, the air bubble always returns -- and when the bubble gets big enough, the siphon action is lost. I use a stick with a marker line on it as a "dip stick" to check that the water level is being maintained. This lets me know when I need to re-prime the tubes but it requires a fair amount of diligence. I'd rather not have to worry about it.
A better solution is to plumb both ends of the tubes BELOW the water line and let the water line droop between the FillTainer and the GrowTainer (or simply run across the ground or patio. That way the ends of the tube are the "high spot" and any air bubbles which form will simply migrate to either end of the tube and bubble to the surface. Any number of containers joined together in this way will all maintain exactly the same water level. And the FillTainer tops off automatically with the float valve hooked to a pressurized water supply. So there is no pressure once the water leaves the FillTainer -- what some call "gravity fed" -- AND no way the siphon action can be lost as long as both ends of any one tube are under water.
I prefer to run a separate water line from the FillTainer to each GrowTainer so the GrowTainers aren't sharing the same water and the potential for disease spreading through the water supply is minimized. Water in the lines should be moving in one direction only; from the FillTainer towards the GrowTainers.
Plumbing the tubes is easier when working with plastic containers. The clear vinyl tube I used is a compression fit (and water-tight) when stuffed through a 3/8 inch hole. I didn't do this for my current set-up but the clear tube should be wrapped with black electrical tape to keep the sunlight out. Otherwise algae tends to form inside the tube which consumes some of the nutrients in the water. This could become a problem over a longer period of time -- especially in climates where folks are able to grow year 'round.
Gardening like this truly is good fun. And now that the fruits are ripening, it's even better. There's something way kewl about popping a cherry tomato in your mouth which is still alive and growing -- fresh off the vine -- with taste you'll never find in store-bought produce.

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