Less is more with this DIY reservoir. Save water and time on an all important, but time consuming, hand watering schedule. Rest assured that you haven’t over or under watered your beauties. As a general rule, stick in a finger up to the 2nd knuckle to feel if soil is still moist; or dry and in need of its next super-quick top up of precious water.
Plantup-za’s Waterskirt will protect and cover up the not so pretty plastic bottle and inner workings. The plastic is wonderfully useful re-purposed, but it’s an eyesore and likely to blow away if not properly secured.
♦ 1x two litre plastic bottle (using a cleaned juice bottle for this guide)
♦ String for tying (your preference of cotton or nylon twine)
♦ 1x Plantup-za water skirt.
♦ 1x knee-high stocking or cut a leg off a pair of pantyhose (not shown in photo).
♦ Craft knife
♦ Bodkin or a Large eyed needle to thread string
♦ An aul to punch pin holes (alternatively use a pin or a very thin nail)
♦ Cut bottle in half horizontally, using the craft knife.
♦ Choose which set you like. Personally, I prefer using two bottle cap halves; for Reservoir and keeping the flat bottom aside for the Drip-Catcher set-up.
♦ Punch a pin-hole through the side of the bottle about 1.5 cm from bottle cap,
or punch pin-hole into highest central ridge of bottle’s base; this will help avoid silt blockage as when it’s placed at lowest point.
Test to see that water does actually leak out;
♦ Stack the two halves on top of each other.
♦ Add water, watch as it trickles into 2nd half; and when enough water pressure builds up ... your water drips out the bottom.
N.B. The hole punched in this example is too big, it should be a steady drip and not a stream of water, as seen here. The smaller the hole; the slower the water drips out.
Stocking (pantihose) filters out silt and solids that'd get sucked in pin-hole, and block water flow.
♦ Slide the stocking over the two stacked bottle halves.
♦ Tie a bobble-knot to close.
♦ Push knotted end inside the Reservoir.
N.B. Dry leaves, dust and dirt may be flicked off into the maintenance chamber, by pulling out the bobble and giving it a shake.
It’s great being able to reuse the run-off nutrients from the drip-catcher, but annoying to find the irrigation system has blocked up and stopped flowing. Usually it's blocked by dust and grit suspended in the water. The stocking helps keep the holes open and free flowing. Tap or rub the pin-hole to dislodge the occasional stubborn blockage.
Attach to barrel bag
♦ Secured the Waterskirt on top of the barrel bag; by looping the barrel bag’s handle tie through the Waterskirt. Slit faces up and turned to the back for loop to fit through it.
♦ Hang up your barrel bag. Here I'm using Plantup-za's S-Hook.
♦ Dig a small hollow in maintenance chamber’s soil to cradle the reservoir’s pointy top end.
♦ Slide the reservoir inside the Waterskirt, tuck away the top hem of the Waterskirt into the reservoir.
♦ Fill reservoir with water, and check back later to see if it has emptied.
♦ Maintain by occasionally taking it apart to clean water scale deposit and silt build up.
How it works
The Plantup-za D.I.Y. Reservoir really does save water! Always check how damp soil really is inside growbag plant pocket before adding more water, Over watering is just as bad for your plants as too little water; Wiggle in a finger up to the 2nd knuckle, and feel if soil is still moist alongside central maintenance chamber, or dry and in need of its next quick top up of precious water. Research whether the plants in your growbag prefers constantly moist soil, or whether it performs better when soil is allowed to dry out completely.
The slow drip irrigation gives your lovely potting soil a chance to absorb and make use of moisture more efficiently; perculate.
The Plantup-za Waterskirt adds a protected pocket of cool darkness to the maintenance chamber = less water evaporation. Also encouraging shy soil critters to explore closer to the surface and convert more fertilizer into plant food (compost, manure, bonemeal, humus, Epsom salts, banana peels, eggshells etc...)
Nutrients suspended in water, in turn, filter down through the barrel’s tiers for the roots to suck up. A nice slow steady supply for vigour and health.
Plantup-za's water reservoir was adapted from Dr Willem van Cotthem's bottle tower garden, among other self-watering ideas that didn't work as well as hoped, in our South African arid climate.