Obviously, you’re going to need to water your plants, so the more convenient and automated you can make watering, the more likely your garden will succeed. The less work this is, the more likely you will keep it up long term!
When we first started indoor gardening, I made the mistakes of over watering and under watering. With under watering, we got stressed out plants that didn’t grow. With over watering, we got bugs and mold, and stressed out plants that didn’t grow.
So we started using water gauges on a daily basis to learn how much water our plants actually needed. Now, I can usually tell just by sticking my finger a few inches into the soil, but I still use the old watering gauge now and then. It is an incredibly helpful tool.
The next step, after figuring out how much water you plants need, is to provide it to them! I have found that two of the best things you can do is to create self-watering planters, and then to add automatic irrigation.
One of the best things I did was to change all of my planting containers to self-watering containers. That way if I get busy and forget to water the plants for a few days, they’re ok. This type of system also provides consistent water levels which plants prefer, and prevents you from having to water from above, which again, prevents disease, especially fungus and mold, on the leaves. For a full step-by-step how-to guide, click here.
Below is a schematic for how I made my bins. They are awesome. There are all sorts of different ways to do it, but the main component is that you have some sort of wicking material (not air) to pull water up from the reservoir to the plant roots. In this case, the wicking medium is just soil in a yogurt container or some other sort of plastic or tupperware container with holes in it at the base of the bin.
If you really want to get fancy, install irrigation! My husband helped me out on this one. You could hook up a hose fitting onto your sink and just use a regular old garden hose to water your plants. Or, as we did initially, you could install an outdoor irrigation sprinkler to the pipe that comes off of your toilet (clean water of course) if you’re in a bathroom (one of the many reasons it’s so ideal!). Or you could actually put in some indoor grade plumbing from a close by water source, like under the sink as we did here. With the self watering containers, this isn’t essential, but it sure makes the whole thing more civilized.
My husband installed a four way irrigation system. I have three potential circuits for different irrigation schedules and the fourth I have a hose hook up. It’s indoor grade irrigation right up until the sprinkler parts so we don’t have to worry about it flooding the room. I use one of those lightweight, very flexible hoses. It is so much easier than a normal garden hose and much, much cleaner.
The best thing about the irrigation system is that if we get busy or go out of town, the plants still get watered. And they are watered from below, so there’s less chance for mildew on the leaves.
I’ll have the full specs for how we accomplished this irrigation system in a future post. More to come!