Continuous Self-Watering 5 Gallon Bucket System (my version of an E bucket)

This week I have worked and basically not much else. I worked on Memorial Day. So I get a little boost to my paycheck due to “holiday pay”. We had a bad storm with hail blow thru during the wee hours on Saturday morning. Lots of rain. No harm done to my grapes that I planted earlier in the spring. I thought I would write how I did my buckets.

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I ran across these buckets on the forums of Dave’s Garden. I did a little modifications to suit us. Since we are living in a desert with sporadic rainfall, we wanted a continuous self watering system that involved us a little as possible. Now we only water once a week, not once a day. This is how I make my continuous self-watering 5 gallon bucket system.

#1. I got a 5 gallon food safe bucket. I used an orange “Homer Bucket” from Home Depot ($2.85 each)

#2. I bought a colander small enough to fit inside the bottom of the bucket. The top of the colander measures 8-1/4″. I bought mine from DollarTree ($1.00)

#3. I dug out some scrap pieces of potable water tubing we had. I used about a 6″ piece of tubing for each bucket.

#4. On the bucket, I made a mark  3″ from the bottom of the bucket.

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#5. Then we drilled a hole that is just big enough for the tubing to fit snugly into.

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#6. Next I placed the colander, upside down inside the bucket.

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#7. Using a permanent marker, I marked where the hole in the bucket lined up with the colander.

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#8. The colander was removed and a hole drilled into the side the same size as the hole drilled into the bucket. It was easier to piece a tiny hole thru the outer side then flip the colander over and drill thru from the inside of the colander. The drill bit slipped less this way.

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#9. Placed the colander back inside the bucket, upside down, and threaded the tubing thru the holes. The tubing extended 2″ into the colander. We trimmed the tubing off so that it extended about 1-1/2″ or so outside of the bucket.

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#10. I added a soil-less potting mixture to the top of the colander bottom making sure that the gap between the sides of the bucket and the sides of the colander was filled with soil. Most potting mixes are soil-less.

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#11. I added enough potting mix to measure 2-1/2″ above the colander bottom. Then I sprinkled some Miracle Grow Water Storing Crystals on the potting mix and mixed it in with my hand.

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#12. Next I added the grape plant, spreading the roots out over the the potting and added more potting mix along with Miracle Grow Water Storing Crystals every so often, mixing the crystals into the potting mixture with my hand until the potting mix reached the same level as the plant was at in the nursery pot. Then the plant was watered from the top until water flowed from the tubing.

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We water from the top until water flows from the tubing. This is about once a week. Otherwise it would be everyday here in Roswell, NM. We can’t over water the plants because the water overflows thru the tubing. The water crystals hold moisture in the soil so the soil doesn’t dry out. About once every two weeks they get a quart of Miracle Grow liquid fertilizer. We planted the dormant grape vines in late February. They started leafing out in April. This is what they look like now. The Red Flame (right) started vining so I bought a couple large tomato cages to give them something to climb on. The Thompson (green grape) is the bushy one on the left. When it comes time to leave NM, the buckets will be placed in the shower stall while we travel.

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