After seeing how well plants growing out of soda bottle SIPs did, I decided to try it out in a 5-gallon bucket. A SIP (sub-irrigated planter) is a fancy name for watering from the bottom up, sometimes called “self” watering. While it won’t really water itself, it doesn’t need to be watered nearly as often as plants in pots that get water from the traditional top-down, watering-can way.
This was so successful that this cherry tomato outgrew all the space I had in my window. Finally it started to look scraggly, the stems all bent in its confined space, and I had to let it go to the compost heap (this was early March, when it was too cold to transplant). Next time I try growing a tomato plant indoors, I’ll remember to select a dwarf variety instead of this seed harvested from the sprawlers from last years garden. Since the planter was a success, so I thought I’d post here how I made it.
Step one, find bucket or container, and a tube or hose a little longer than the height of the container you’ll be using (I got a drinking-water-safe hose and cut it into sections, since I was making more than one).
Step two, make a water reservoir with some space for dirt to hang out. I cut plastic milk jugs so that water could flow freely beneath them, but most of the dirt would rest on top, save for the spaces between which would allow just enough dirt to wick water upward to the plants.
If I plant very small seedlings in a large bucket like this, I water from the top as well as filling the reservoir until they grow large enough to find the water with their roots. When this happens you’ll be able to tell, because they’ll really take off.