Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sub-Irrigated Salad Bowl Planter: How To Make One

Sub irrigation=watered from the bottom

Little Green Girl makes 2-liter SIPs (sub-irrigated planters) and you can apply the same concept to any watertight vessel, in this case an old wooden salad bowl. Check out how easy...

1) Make water+oxygen reservoir out of recycled drink bottleUse a basic soldering iron (best $12 you'll ever spend at Radio Shack) or hot nail to melt holes all over the bottle. Then melt a hole in one of the bottle's ends and insert a short piece of plastic drinking straw. This is the water overflow tube.

2) Make a fill tube by using a utility knife to cut an X in the bottle and inserting a piece of tubing like this...
...or cut another small drink bottle in half and insert as we've done below. This is where you'll add water. Note the same sub irrigation principle below, taking place in a recycled spinach box--more on this in a future post.

3) Put a hole in that bowl. We used a drill. You could also burn a hole. Make it big enough so the overflow straw/tube fits through it.

4) Thread the overflow tube through the hole and stand up the water+oxygen chamber. Like this:

5) Fill your vessel with damp potting mix. Use a peat/perlite combo to ensure good water wicking. Add some coir if you want. Mix in a handful of organic fertilizer, mounding up the mix and compressing lightly. Don't worry if a little mix falls into the holes of your bottle.
6) Plant something--seeds or young plant starts.
For seeds: get potting mix nice and moist, use a pencil to make quarter-inch-deep circles, and drop the seeds in about half an inch apart. Lightly cover with potting mix and gently press. Cover with a plastic bag to keep moisture in until seeds sprout. And then into the sun!

For lettuce or greens starts: Poke holes with a pencil and tuck plant roots deeply, lightly pressing into potting mix to make contact. One time only (so the plants can settle in), water plants and potting mix from the top. After that, water via the fill tube, like this:
Looks a little droopy,
but she'll settle in

Pour some water into the fill tube now to understand how the overflow spout works--see how extra water comes out of the straw? Tilt the bowl to offload some of that water. Once your plants get established and start drinking you can add more. Lettuces and greens love cool weather, so set them outside in the sun and don't bring inside unless there's danger of frost. 

Mmm...we're already eating salads from this


Debbie said...

H2, Beautiful SIP salad planter! Great up-cycle project!

Echotraveler said...

LOVE YOUR SIP SALD BOWL!! great ideas!
I also love thinking of ways to convert all kinds of containers into SIP! :)

any updates?