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Going Green with Homemade Container Gardens

kids-containerSelf-Watering, Low Maintenance, and Impressive Produce

How would you like to grow fabulous vegetables without having to worry about weeding, watering, or pests? Your kids won’t believe how much fun it is to grow and harvest food that’s fun to eat. We won’t tell them the veggies are good for them, if you don’t. Here’s how to construct a self-watering planter to hold your family’s favorite vegetable plant using recycled household items and a few purchased items from your home improvement store.

Things you will need:

  • 5 Gallon container (kitty litter bucket, paint bucket, etc.) with lid
  • Gravel
  • Potting soil
  • Trowel
  • Fertilizer (granular –not water soluble)
  • 18” PVC pipe (11/2 – 2” diameter)
  • Heavy plastic bag
  • Bungee cord long enough to go around your container, or Duct tape
  • Drill with ½ inch bit
  • Exacto Knife
  • A plant
  1. Drill or poke a drainage hole about 3 inches from the bottom of your container. This will allow excess water to drain out and prevent root rot.
  2. Put 3-4 inches of gravel in container.
  3. Place PVC pipe, standing up, into the gravel on one side of your container.
  4. Fill container with potting soil to within an inch of the top.
  5. Make a trough in the soil next to the wall of the container and fill with approximately1cup of fertilizer.
  6. Either snap the lid back on the container or place the plastic over the container and secure with a bungee cord or duct tape. You will have to cut a hole in the lid with an Exacto knife (parent supervision needed here), or cut a hole in the plastic large enough to allow the PVC pipe to stick out.
  7. Cut a 2-3 inch hole in lid with knife (more parent supervision) or cut an “X” in the plastic on the opposite side where you put the fertilizer.  Plant your tomato or other vegetable plant in the hole.
  8. Water your container through the PVC pipe about once a week.

The soil will stay moist, there will be no weeds, and very few pests! If you would like, you can paint the outside of the container before you start.

For more information on garden containers, consult books such as Container Gardening for Dummies or call your Master Gardener Program at the Orange County Extension at 407.254.9200.