Save your money for that vacation you've been planning and save your plants from a dry and dusty death while you're gone. You can make a porch full of hanging planters to grow everything from basil to begonias -- and use scraps and trash that won't end up in a landfill. Self-watering containers can dangle from the eaves of the potting shed, the branches of a spreading tree or hooks on the backyard fence.
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Soda Pop Planter
An empty plastic soda bottle, cut in half and threaded through the neck with a strip of T-shirt wick is a really green planter. Filled with potting mix and planted with a small flower or herb, it hangs nicely in a kitchen window or the corner of the porch. The bottom of the soda bottle is the water reservoir. The top, with the dangling wick, goes into the bottom, neck down. Both sections hold together with a macramé holder.
The non-crafty, can knot twine beneath the lower chamber, run it up the side and knot it overhead to slip it over a hook. The bottle planter keeps the plants watered and the plastic out of the landfill. Just check now and again to see that the reservoir has water in it and the plants will take care of themselves.
The Neat Solution
Commercial self-watering hanging baskets are made with a double bottom and a side spout for refilling the reservoir. They are usually plastic and come in several colours to work with your garden or patio design. Copycat the idea with a big plastic hanging bowl that's in the garden shed.
The do-it-yourself version works fine with a circle of plastic cut to fit about 2/3 of the way down the inside of the bowl, a wick and a short length of PVC pipe. The circle has a hole for the wick to poke through, and hang in the reservoir below, and another hole in which you insert the skinny PVC pipe. The pipe should not touch the bottom of the bowl but it should stick out of the potting soil above. A plant goes in the container, the reservoir is filled with water through the pipe and the wick draws water up to the plant.You get to ignore watering chores for up to a month.
A low-maintenance conversation piece to hang from a branch in the garden or in a whimsical entryway recycles an old pair of garden or work boots. The boot with the hole in the sole is the planter. If there isn't a hole, it gets one and the tongue and sides are opened out to accommodate a nice bushy plant.
You fill the boot with a good draining potting mix -- no need to line it for protection as it was destined for the garbage before its reincarnation as a planter. A wick runs from the hole in the planted upper boot to the suspended lower boot just underneath. Because the boots are attached closely, the wick can sit in a plastic insert, like an old water bottle, that is filled with water for the plant above.
Water is wicked up and supplies the boot plant and the whole contraption hangs by its laces, overflowing with bright impatiens or a graceful ornamental grass. The water in the reservoir needs occasional replenishing and you can knock the soil out of the top boot at the end of summer and refresh it with new soil and a plant in the spring for as long as the boots last.
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