Welcome to my 'ible!! Over the winter, I aquired a couple of wine boxes from a local wine shop with plans on turning them into decorative planters for my deck. While browsing around Instructables for raised bed garden box ideas (another project in itself...), I saw a couple instructables that integrated wicking type systems and thought that here in the high desert, that sounded like a great idea. Well the raised bed garden boxes aren't coming along like I planned. Since the planting season is well upon us, I decided to use the wine boxes as mini raised bed planters for my patio. I also decided to incorporate a wicking/self-watering system into them. I am just starting with lettuce and strawberries to see how well the system overall works for the long haul over the summer. I figure this will be a good trial for the wicking system for when I finally DO get around to doing full size 4x4 planting beds.
Step 1: Supplies
First step was a trip to the local hardware store for the supplies. I purchased enough supplies for 3 boxes as you can see in the photo. The below list is what I gathered. The more you can dig out of your garage the cheaper it will be. Most of the supplies were purchased and cost less than $20 to fit and fill all 3 boxes.
- A couple feet of 3/4" PVC pipe (lenght will vary based on the height of YOUR boxes of course)
- 3 3/4" PVC caps (not absolutley necessary, but helps keep dirt out when filling)
- 3 3/4" PVC couplers. I used ones with a smaller threaded male end and a smooth 3/4" female end.
- 1 Roll of Duct Tape
- 1 Roll of 2 mil plastic sheeting
- Silver marker
- Scissors & Box knife
- Measuring tape
- 1 10ft length of perforated irrigation pipe 3" dia.
- 1 bag of organic garden soil
Step 2: Cutting Drainage Pipe and Lining Boxes
The first thing I did was measure the lenght of the boxes and cut 2 pieces of drainage pipe to fit. Test fit them into unlined boxes, since the pipe is corrugated you can collapse and pull it wider to get a nice snug fit. Next, the wine boxes need to be water-tight. I chose to use 2 mil plastic (2 layers) and used the duct tape to secure the plastic to the top of the boxes (which can be seen in pics further down).
If the insides of your boxes are rough, you can put in a pre-liner of landscape fabric or something similar, but the wine boxes have pretty smooth interiors.
Lining the boxes is probably the most time consuming part. I took my time and got nice neat folds in the corners, not that it matters since they are covered in dirt!!
Step 3: Inserting Fill Tubes
Next, in one of the two lenghts of corrugated tube, trace a hole using your coupler as a guide. Place your hole where you think it will be easiest to fill the resivior. I chose the far end.
Once the hole is cut, insert your PVC coupler. Insert the 2 lenghts of corrugated tube carefully into the lined box. Be careful to not tear the plastic liner.
Now you can measure for the lenght of PVC conduit. You can measure, or you can just put one end of the PVC pipe into the coupler and just eyeball about 1/2" above the top of the box and make a mark with your marker for your cutting point.
Cut the PVC to your desired lenght with the hacksaw and insert it into the coupler.
Place on the PVC cap.
**If you are placing these in an area that will receive a lot of rain, you will need to drill a drainage hole in one side of the wine box. The drainage hole should be placed where it will fall into the void of one of the bottom resivior corrugated pipes, about 3/4 the way up the pipe. Just be sure to waterproof the inside of the box where you drilled thru. This will prevent them filling with water and killing the plants.
My boxes are in an area where they will not receive any rainfall so I did not put in drain holes. I will add them if I move the boxes.
Step 4: Fill and Plant!
Once the fill tube is together, just fill with the dirt of your choice and plant.
When plants are in, I filled the resivoir about 2" high with water. You can just look down the PVC pipe and eyeball the amount, or you can do as I did... I cut a piece of a wine cork and stabbed it with a bamboo skewer cut to reach just the top of the PVC pipe. I stuck it down the PVC pipe and viola!! Instant bobbing measuring device. Just make sure your water bob goes ALL the way thru the PVC pipe and drainage tube. When I take off the cap, if the bobber is floating, no water needed, if it is below the top of the PVC pipe, then I know it is time to add water. If you wanted to get really fancy you could make the bamboo stick just a bit longer and drill a hole in the top of the cap and insert the bobbing device thru that. Then you don't even need to take the cap off to see the water level. I would have, but I didn't think about it until typing up this instruction!! I may do that when I get home.. :-)
Here are 2 of the 3 boxes I made with plants in them.