Recycle everyday items to make a self-watering plant pot: easy and cheap!
As I promised in the Nomadic Shelf post, I'm planting some seeds.
Keeping indoor plants from kicking the watering can is a challenge for me so I'm enthused about a plant pot that forgives me if I only remember to water it now and then. Thankfully, this is a dirt-cheap project that recycles materials readily on hand.
You don't have to build the pot or planter exactly the way that I've done this one, you just have to understand the principle of the thing.
The self-watering pot or planter contains a reservoir of water, usually fed by a tube, underneath the planting medium and plants. Water is wicked up to the plants from the reservoir to keep the soil damp from the bottom up. In this case I've used potting soil, making sure that the dirt is in contact with the edge of the reservoir all around. The soil itself should wick the water just fine. Some planters of this type use a wick made of cotton cloth or string, dangled into the reservoir from the planting medium. In any case, the pot won't work unless there is some way for the water to get to the plants.
The planting fever isn't going away. Stay tuned for more experiments and updates...hopefully this will all work! Do you have spring planting fever?
If you try your own self-watering pot tell me about it in the comments or just tell me what you're planting this spring. I'd love to hear about it!
Okay, firing up Near Miscellany after a bit of an absence, my apologies for anyone who was waiting for something to read!
Anyway, February and March are gray and depressing in my locale and I start to want to grow things. The desire to see little green plants come up is almost a nervous obsession in early spring. However, I've had a problem with my house and that is that I have no windowsills. Not one. Nada. None of my four south-facing windows have a windowsill that I can safely put plants on.
It occurred to me out of the blue that I have the perfect materials for an easily-movable light suspended shelf. The top of an old guinea pig cage (the guinea pigs are long gone RIP) and some clothesline. All I needed was a way to hang the thing so I went to K-mart and got four 'swag hooks' which were, for some reason I don't understand, cheapest if you bought them in white. Since I didn't care what color they were I got those. My main concern was that they'd be able to hold the shelf so I made sure that I bought hooks that would support 50 lbs of weight which should be plenty. My dad taught me to over-engineer everything, I doubt he knows he did that!
The hooks came with instructions on the back of the package for attaching them to various surfaces. For wood I drilled a 1/8" hole with the cordless drill and then screwed the hooks into the drilled hole. I was careful to make the open part of the hook to face away from the shelf so that the loop of clothesline wouldn't slip off.
After doing this by trial-and-error I found the best way to tie this up. The main problem I had was to get it level and exactly where I wanted it.
1. Start with two pieces of clothesline long enough to knot at each end and reach to the bottom of your cage lid, across the bottom, and back up to the other hook. Put a loop in one end of each length of line and knot it.
2. Thread the rope down through the cage bars and back up on each end so that you have four lengths of line extending from each corner. It helps if the looped and knotted ends are in the back corners away from you as you hang the cage. Make sure the door of the cage is in the front, facing you.
3. Hang the loops over the hooks farthest from you and work one side at a time, finding the right length to knot the front rope. You may have to play with it a bit, adjusting and re-knotting until you get the shelf level and at the height you'd like it to be.
The cage top could have been hung on its side and then you'd have a two-level shelf. However, a shelf suspended by ropes tends to wiggle or swing if it's bumped. Besides, I thought using the upside-down cage door as a watering hatch was too darned cute! If you have the space and a bigger window you could probably hang another few planters from the bottom or sides as well.
As you can see in the photos the kitchen is unfinished. So if I need to move this shelf while we work on the kitchen or if I just don't like it in this window I can easily move it by taking it down and hanging my hooks at one of the other south-facing windows. It's nomadic!
Of course, I woke up the next morning to a typically gray early-spring day. I think I'll try making my own grow light...after the planters and seeds are done. That'll be next! Watch this space.
And if you make your own version of the suspended nomadic shelf please comment and tell me about it! I'd love to know what you used for yours.