There are now a lot of self watering containers out there. I have 3 types myself. And there are more out there. Plus, there are some great instructions for making your own self watering containers:
- Earthtainer at TomatoFest
- Josh Mandel’s Gardening Site
- Judy’s Square Foot Gardening Blog
- Growing Things Blog
So here’s my top 3 Things to Look for in a Self Watering Container:
- Is it big enough?
- Is it easy to fill the reservoir?
- Is it sturdy?
Now here’s why.
So #1: is it big enough for what you want to grow? I put blueberries in some 14″ round SWC’s that I got from Johnny’s. I originally bought them for tomatoes, and did grow two cherry tomatoes in 2 of them this year (I have 8 of them). So the blueberries are thriving, and I keep them trimmed like bushes. The large tomatoes that I like to grow get HUGE, and they would outgrow the 14″ pot. In the small Earthbox or the Growbox, I can grow two tomatoes. Now if you like broccoli, cauliflower, etc, I can grow 5 of them in the small Earthbox and the Growbox. Supposedly you can plant 6 but they just get too large to successfully grow 6. And I can only successfully grow 3 cabbages. I learned through trial and error, and want to save you the loss of plants.
#2: is it easy to fill the reservoir? My first SWCs were the Garden Patch Grow Boxes and they have a large area in the front that’s really easy to stick a water wand into and let the water flow. So when I bought the 14″ round pots from Johnny’s, I was a little surprised that there was only a small slit in the front. And my water want didn’t fit. So I had to switch to a hand held that could switch to “Jet” which would send out a flat stream of water and fill the reservoir. Honestly, I don’t fill them as SWC’s anymore. It’s too painful. So I just water like a normal container.
Now the EarthBox is well loved, and so I broke down and got the small one since it was on sale at my local nursery. They have a pipe that sticks up, so in theory, you put the hose in and fill ‘er up. My problem? I like my magic wand and while I can set it to Center, I have no visual or audio cues for when the reservoir is full, and it starts spilling out the back. The main reason I have SWCs is to save water. The second is I’m lazy and like not having to water every day. So not my favorite; however, it’s easy to fill up without bending over.
And finally to #3. Is it sturdy. Of the 3 I purchased, they’re all really solidly built and I have no complaints. The Grow Boxes have survived over five seasons and still work well. Do they look new? No. But the squirrels have chewed on them a bit. I lost two of them, but the rest still work well. This would only be an issue if you made your own or they come out with new SWCs that are inferior quality. Better to make an up front investment and have them last longer.