i've got window sills full of lovely seedlings, herbs, veggies, flowers. So what's the problem?
We'll be going away for a week mid may, and with this cold and relatively dry spring we're having, I can't put these babies outside just yet.
Daily watering exceeds the resources of locally volunteered family members, so I decided to make all the pots wicking ones.
Now I know it would be easier to make the pots with wicks before the seeds were planted, but some of us didn't plan that far ahead.
As I worked on this, more travel plans developed for the summer, so it looks like the upright plan tower garden ( possiblly another instructable) will have some sort of wicking, water intake system. I also realized that I hadn't figured in a trip to see my Mom and son, so. . . .
Step 1: What You'll Need
Lots of needy seedlings
Knife, maybe a nail file too
Plastic flower pots, stuff from recycle basket
Plastic bowls, takeout containers
Bamboo skewer, chopstck or thin dowel
Step 2: Making Wicks
My seedlings are in plastic containers from the recycle bin. Cookie packages, mushroom tubs, ice cream containers. Most are fairly shallow, 2-3" deep. The ice cream containers about 5" deep. All of the pots were planted 2-6 weeks ago with a variety of seeds, so seedlings are in very different stages and sizes.
The string I used is something I had kicking around. I did try a wicking test of another synthetic twine, the twine I used and some cotton embroidery thread. The yellow synthetic twine drew up the water most quickly. I also liked the way the yellow stuff unraveled into separate strands and contrasted with the dirt. All you hemp string lovers can use whatever you'd like, I used what I had on hand.
I cut the string into 15" pieces
Each piece was made into a loop and tied, leaving 2 pieces about 3" long
The end pieces were then frayed, I used the tip of a nail file, working from just above the knot towards the end.
Step 3: Inserting the Wicks
Now this is where it gets tricky, you are about to disrupt those sweet little plants by poking the wicks up through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pots, bursting through the surface of the soil, knocking a few plants askew( and at least a little dirt will scatter everywhere).
**This is also a good time to remember, few things are impossible, somethings just take longer (and somethings just aren't worth it)**
Take your stick, fold the unraveled bit over the notched end. The knot will be just the other side of the notch ( say that 5x, fast!)
Apologize to the seedlings, then poke the stick ( with the string folded over the tip) up through the drainage hole through the surface of the dirt, trying not to launch any seedlings into the air.
Oh yeah, try not to loose the loop, it should be hanging out the bottom of the pot, while the unraveled ends should be sticking up out of the dirt( hopefully between the plants). If the loop looked like it might not be long enough, I just tied a tail of string to extend it.
See advice above **
Once the wicks are inserted, fan out the unraveled ends, so that a few extend towards each seedling. Then carefully press these wicks below the level of the soil.
almost done . . .
Step 4: Lower Container to Hold Water
You'll need a lower container to hold water and supports to hold plant pot above surface of water
Now if you're working with larger planters it's ok for the bottom of the pot to touch the water, but with tiny pots I thought it best to avoid soaking the roots.
I cut up plastic berry holders, plastic flower pots, other bits of recycling to raise the pots about 1" from the bottom of the water container.
The important thing is to let the loops rest in the water to do their wicking thing.
Step 5: This Is Where I Cross My Fingers and Leave the Seedlings Home
Ok, they're not home alone, my husband will check water levels in 48h and again on day 4, (adding water if needed). I'll be home to check results on day 6.
The sections marked "spritz", are reminders of where germinating seeds and very wee seedlings are. The cinnamon coloured areas are, well, cinnamon. The cinnamon is anti fungal and sprinkling new sprouts with this spice helps prevent damping off.
When I get back, I then have 7 days to put the slightly larger, hardier plants outside ( before leaving on the next 8 day trip) then, Yikes! Those wee plants will be on their own.
I expect that those pots will need larger water reservoirs
I'll update after my trip!