Gardener Q's Blog

Just another weblog

Homemade self-watering plant bucket May 7, 2010

Filed under: DIY — gardenerq @ 11:50 AM
Tags: , , ,

Sometimes when I don’t have time to go to the big garden I amuse myself with plants around the house.  As I have mentioned before, there aren’t too many sunny spots around the house due to several humongous pine trees.  The only locations that receive consistent sunlight are the driveway (concrete) and the deck (wood).  So I have quite a few plants in pots and containers.  I like to grow vegetables in 3 and 5 gallon pots.  Recently I ran across a plan for a DIY self-watering bucket at Dave’s Garden.  This is the simplest design that I have seen.  So, of course I had to try it out.

Here are the parts of my homemade self-watering planter.  I used my serrated knife as a tool.  It worked great for cutting through the colander rim, carving a hole for the boba straw, and for cutting the PVC pipe.  (You know how it is… man needs a hammer and a screw driver to fix things, whereas a woman just uses a heavy mug and a butter knife.  :-P).

Materials for the self-watering bucket: serrated knife, boba straw, PVC pipe, colander, and Homer bucket.

As you can see, the colander fits inside the bucket.  The big hole is where the PVC pipe will go through from the top and the small hole is where the straw will go through from the side.

Top view of bucket

Top view with straw and pipe inserted

And here it is….with tomato plants.  (Yes, I love dark tomatoes.)

Buckets with Chocolate Stripes (left) and Japanese Black Trifele (right).

The colander creates a “reservoir” at the bottom and holds about 1.5 gallons of water.  Watering in done via the PVC pipe.  Plant draws moisture as needed.  And we all know that even watering equals happy plants!

Don’t you just want to go out and make one for yourself now?


Seeds seeds seeds! May 3, 2010

I stopped by O.C. Farm Supply to get seed starting trays and mix. I usually start my seeds with peat pellets but, considering that I’ll have 400 sq ft to plant, trays and seed starting mix will be more cost effective. The brand that I bought was Gardner & Bloome. In this particular tray I have pole beans, bush beans, leeks, tomatillos, pak choy, asst lettuce, and okras. I already have some eggplants, cucumbers, and tomatoes that are ready to be planted out…as soon as I finish layering the beds. I LOVE starting plants from seeds and saving seeds. Life from a seed…sometimes a 5 year old seed…is nothing short of a miracle.


The Manure Maneuver

Filed under: Uncategorized — gardenerq @ 4:12 PM

The 3rd layer is steer manure and blood & bone meal. As you can see, there are 2 narrow footpaths that are lined with straw.  The bed dimensions and order of the layers that I’m putting down are from Jonathan White’s Food4Wealth plan .  The vegie beds go East-West and I will plant taller crops on the North end. I’ve dabbled with various plant spacing ideas over the years and I think I’ll use John Jeavons’ Grow Biointensive method for these beds.


Bit by bit

Filed under: Uncategorized — gardenerq @ 7:52 AM


Originally uploaded by OhQuyen

I’m still trying to figure out a way to post multiple pictures from my phone in one post. I’m still at a loss.

Regarding this picture, I was working on one section at a time. My square bed will be divided into three equal beds by footpaths.


Finally, a new beginning!

Filed under: community garden,raise-bed gardening — gardenerq @ 6:24 AM
Tags: , , ,

After months of not being able to work on my plot due to school and life, I was finally able to get the weeds cleared off.  I was also able to build a frame for the raised-bed vegetable patch.  That was two weekends ago.  I am following a method that has been called “lasagna” or “no-till” gardening.  The dimensions of the frame built are 8 in x 15 ft x 15 ft.   I’m using this size frame instead of making narrow and long beds because one square frame uses less wood than three rectangular ones.

This past weekend I was able to get most of the material for the layers of my garden bed.  This picture shows the  first 2 layers: newspaper and alfalfa hay.  Laying down the newspaper layer was a bit slow going because it was a windy day.  The hay was fun.  I’ve never pulled apart a bale of hay or straw before.  The bales are made up of bricks/wafers of hay.


Hello world! April 19, 2010

Filed under: community garden,raise-bed gardening,vegetables — gardenerq @ 3:55 PM
Tags: ,

I am your average home-gardening enthusiast.  When I was growing up in Portland, Oregon our house had a small garden in the backyard.  We had a friend who knew a lot about gardening and he helped us till the soil and prepare our vegetable beds. He taught my mom about companion planting and planting with the phase of the moon.  I must confess that I didn’t pay that much attention to any of it back then.

Fast forward a few decades and here I am, in Zone 9b, with a few fruit trees in the backyard and a few tomato plants in containers.  I also have a couple of vegetable beds in the front yard where I grew corn and lettuce last summer.  We don’t have enough sunny areas around the house to have a vegetable bed so I rented a couple of plots from the city’s Community Garden.  The plots are 15 ft x 15 ft and I was lucky enough to get two that are next to each other.  I got the plots last fall but was too busy to get them going.  This spring I vowed to start anew.

My rented plots

Oh, I almost forgot.  I also have a smaller plot at a different community garden.  That one is only 10 ft x 10 ft.  I’ve had that one for a year now.  It is also a raised-bed plot but I didn’t use the layering method.  I just used a garden “soil” mix.

My small plot...last year.

Some of the harvest

I was able to grow and harvest some corn, Swiss chard, green bean, cabbage, snow pea, mini pumpkin, okra, and yellow squash.  Pretty cool for a little plot, huh?

I will chronicle my progress and congress here.  It’s my way of sharing the fruits/veggies of my labor.