Thursday, April 17, 2008

Strawberry Pot Watering System from Soda Bottles!

I absolutely hate my strawberry pot. It's difficult to plant and the water tends to just pour right out the side holes before reaching the lower soil. Lovely.

But seeing as I was up to my eyeballs in Alexandrias and Chad was so tickled by the idea of strawberries in a strawberry pot, I decided to give it a go again this year... with one adjustment.

You see, the lower plants never get any water if the water just pours out the sides. This seemed like something I could actually fix. A little googling revealed that some other gardeners drill holes in a length of PVC pipe, stick it in the pot, pour soil around it, and plant the strawberries. Very clever, verrry clever indeed...

But the only PVC pipe I had was too skinny and so ancient I was afraid it would leach scary chemicals into the soil and I really didn't want to go buy a new one and deal with drilling. So I decided to do one of my favorite things ever: reuse trash!

So, here's how to make a watering system for your strawberry plant....

1. Dig small coke bottles out of the recycling bin. How many you need depends on how tall your strawberry pot is. (Mine comes up to my knees and I used three bottles.) Rinse them, remove their labels, and cut off the bottoms. Be sure to keep one of the caps.

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2. Now, you need to stick the bottles inside of each other, in a sort of daisy-chain way, to create a pipe effect. Tape them all together, sealing the seams well, with packaging tape. Please note that none of the "inside" bottles should have caps on!

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3. Next step is to melt or drill holes in the bottles. With thin plastic like this, I'd vote for melting. Make sure you do this in a ventilated area. The basic steps are:

a. light a candle

b. hold a nail in the flame with a pair of pliers, not your bare hand

c. once hot, make holes by poking the nail into the plastic

You'll need to reheat the nail every now and then, but it makes for pretty quick work. (For illustrations on how to do this, see how I melted holes in the plastic caps for these recycled pots.)

4. Once you have a few holes in each of the bottles, put the cap on the one exposed bottle top and see how the system fits into the pot. As long as it's tall enough to come above the soil line, you're good! Trim the top bottle if it sticks way above the pot's lip.

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5. Once ready to go, hold the bottle in place and dump in enough soil around it to reach the first set of holes. It should stand fairly sturdy as you now continue to plant each of your strawberry plants. (Note that you may want to stuff a cloth in the top while you pour in the soil, to avoid getting soil in the watering system.

My end result:

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It works well, but I do wish now that I'd trimmed down the top bottle just for appearances. But all of the plants that looked healthy going into the pot look healthy after a couple weeks of living there. I'm pretty pleased with how evenly this seems so moisten the soil, and I think the plants are pretty happy about it too. The only drawback I can really think of is that all plastic (even PVC!!!) starts leaching chemicals as it ages. I'd probably replace the tower of bottles every year, which shouldn't be too tough once the pot is filled with roots.

5 comments:

gabe said...

gonna try this out this afternoon! I just baught one of these post and wanted to make sure i knew how to use it. Thanks for the blog.

Barbee' said...

You are so clever!

Elizabeth said...

Thanks, gabe & barbee!

jay said...

This is a great idea. I may try this this year for several of my potted plants, which I sometimes forget to water.

Here is an idea about how to create amazingly inexpensive but very attractive soda bottle tomato planters.

As you can see from the link, these planters make excellent showpieces and are sure-fire conversation starters.

Please visit
http://yourhomegardenblog.com/
for more information on how to make these planters.

Thanks for the blog.

Daniel said...

This is a very good idea! Pots usually dry out so fast, but with a bottle full of water it should last longer. Great article and pictures!