Self-watering Tote Garden




About: Just tinkering around.

This is a project I have been working on for a couple of years. It has worked so well, that I keep expanding on the concept. The main function, of the box, is the self-watering of plants without subsequent supervision. I consider Irrigation one of the hardest parts of growing food. Therefore, I decided to design an inexpensive product, which is self-watering. Firstly, a primary box must be made. This box contains, a water level float, similar to what is used in a toilette, a viewing tube to check the water level, and an overflow outlet for excess water. Moreover, this can be used as a pressurized water system. Meaning, your water hose can be on at all times without the risk of over watering your plants. On a side note, I monitor my plants on a weekly basis and turn the water on once a month to not have constant pressure in the line.

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Step 1: PARTS

Step 2: Instructions

The first one will be the hardest one to make. The additional ones will be much easier due to having less components. The first step will be, to cut out the inside of the yellow top using the box cutter. Cut away from your body and think safe. This will be bent in the shape of a half-pipe and placed at the bottom of the tub so that the dirt has minimal contact with the water. Not every top and container are the same. However, most plastic container and tops will work. If it seems like it will crack when you bend it, use a heat gun or angle grinder to cut out or melt the supports before you attempt to bend it. This will reduce the chances of cracking. Some tops have less support and can easily be bent without cracking.

The inlet and outlet holes need to be drilled from the outside of the tote. There will be a total of 3 holes, one for the water entrance that is attached to the floater about 3 inches off the ground, the next will be the exit for the garden hose 2.5 inches off the ground. A 28 mm hole saw was used to cut the hole for the inlet and outlet. The third will be the overflow hole. This one can be done with a smaller 1/4th drill bit and made 4 inches from the ground. The rain barrel kit comes with everything you need to connect to the hose, and the floater. The floater has the same thread as the inside of rain barrel kit.

Then, I used a 4” hole saw to make the hole on the yellow lid. Afterwards the 4” PVC pipe gets placed one inch through the lid then bolted in place with a 2” aluminum 90-degree angle with self-tapping screws. Then use liquid nail on it to cover the gaps. The 4 inch pipe is 11 inches long and has a cutout on the floater side. You then run the water to set the level. Make sure it’s tight and adjusted properly before setting up. The hole is more to check water level and for maintenance as needed. It can be hard to adjust the floater, due to size constraints with the 4 inch hole.

Step 3: Adding Dirt

For the dirt, any potting soil will due. 3 cubic feet of soil will suffice per box. I went with roots organic from my hydroponic store. The big box stuff never gave me good results in the past and the plants LOVE this stuff.

However, I have found that this is the absolute easiest way to have a luscious home garden with minimal input. Just add water, sit back, and enjoy your self-watering garden.

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    5 Discussions


    Answer 11 months ago

    I have looked for this info for a couple of years. But I have not found out how I could give them money.


    Question 1 year ago on Step 3

    So the float device is concealed under the cut-down yellow lid in the bottom of the first box? And you use the 4" pipe to look down and see the water level?

    1 answer

    Answer 1 year ago

    Yes, the 4 inch PVC pipe in the first box is to check the float and water level.

    Penolopy Bulnick

    1 year ago

    Looks like you have a great setup there :D