Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Self Watering Garden

When my parents lived nearby, I would stop by frequently after work, shoot the breeze and see what projects my Dad was working on. Dad was an incredibly talented handyman and could make anything from what most people would consider a pile of junk.

Having been born during the Great Depression, the lessons he learned carried him thru his lifetime. He and my Mom always had a garden and were always sending fresh produce home with me to feed the family.

Dad had built a small green house in his typical recycled material manner and it was a very interesting setup. For a watering system he used drip irrigation. For a water reservoir he used an old toilet tank with ball float assembly. When the water got low enough in the tank, it would refill from the garden hose he had attached to it.

For an automatic vent system to regulate the temperature, he used a plastic strip that would stretch when it got hot, allowing the vents to open, and when it cooled down, it would shrink and pull the vents closed. Quite the setup I must say.

I had originally intended to build a large greenhouse to use all my glass, but now I think I will build a smaller version modeled on what my Dad had built. It produced a lot of tomatoes and cucumbers as I remember, and would be a good setup for growing onion sets and radishes.

Combined with a good set of cold frames, I believe this would be enough to get me my starts for setting out as well as growing into the winter months, as a smaller greenhouse will be easier to heat with scrap wood from work.


  1. As I got older, it always amazed me how much smarter my father was getting and now it seems like I'm doing many of the things he did because they work or just made a simple task even easier.

  2. It's very fine to have a father or mother who left you with some good ideas, some sound thinking. They are still helping us and I say thank you.


  3. I can relate my parent are children that where born in the Great Depression as well. I've learned a lot from them now I truly wish I would have paid more attention as a teenager.

  4. Backwoods Home mag this month has an article on using a 5 gallon bucket to do drip irrigation. Drill a hole in the bottom side of the bucket, stick in a piece of old hose, punch some holes in the hose, elevate the bucket, and you have drip irrigation. Neat little article.