If you grow fruit or vegetables in warm climates you find quite quickly that constant watering becomes necessary and can be an annoyance. Last season I was watering daily and still had growth cracks in my tomatoes from the plant drying out too much. In order to solve this, I needed to work out a method of self watering, what I came up with is not only free and easy, but involves recycling as well.
You’ve probably seen Aqua Globeson TV or at the store, while they are pretty and work well for small plants they hold extremely small amounts of water, are difficult to refill, easily broken and obviously not free. Making them impractical for gardening. However the concept of slowly delivered water, as the soil dries is ideal for gardens.
My solution was to use wine bottles. They hold quite a lot more water, have a larger opening making them easier to fill, are made of thicker glass so they are harder to break. They are also transparent so you can see how full they are from a distance and are basically free. Another advantage to this system is that you can add fertilizer to your “bottled water” that will be delivered more slowly than dumping it on during a watering.
Wine bottles of any usual shape will do. The tapering style are easier to push into the soil, but tend to hold less water. To use the system, water your plants thoroughly, fill the wine bottle and push it into the soil on the outside edge of the pot or safely away from the main roots so as not to damage them. It is important to water the plant first as the bottle will release water as the soil dries. If you are working with larger pots or large plants, using multiple bottles or magnum sized bottles will help.
If you do not drink wine, you can still get these bottles for free by going to a winery and asking to go through their recycling bins. Some wineries will even hold bottles for you. Bottles come in many colors, including clear, green, brown, pink and even cobalt blue.