Upcycle wine bottles to create self-watering planters

wine bottle waterer photo
CC BY 2.0 Sami Grover

The idea of self-watering planters has always appealed to me.

It's not that I don't like gardening. It's just that I get a little over-enthusiastic in early spring, and then end up with a bunch of extra tomatoes and peppers in random pots that I have a hard time keeping alive. (For the uninitiated, potted plants dry out way quicker than plants in the ground.) I did wonder this year about splashing out on some actual self-watering containers, but didn't really relish the expense.

Then I came across the Plant Nanny.

Basically a terra cotta spike which you push into your potting soil, it will hold an upside down wine bottle filled with water upright, and then, as the soil around it dries, it slowly allows the water to seep out through the terra cotta spike and replenish the root zone. (It's the same principle as the folks who bury unglazed terra pots in their garden for irrigation purposes.)

It's easy. It's super efficient. And, so far at least, it's worked great for me. I'm currently filling the bottles in each of my medium-sized pepper, tomato and cucumber pots about once every three to four days. If I happen to let the soil dry out before refilling the bottle, I might also top water the pot to make sure the soil is soaked through, so it doesn't immediately drain.

And that's about it.

I have considered using this system to test whether pee-cycling really is good for tomatoes, but given that a neighbor did indeed read my post about stealth peeing in an urban yard, I should probably keep that to myself.

Upcycle wine bottles to create self-watering planters
These terra cotta watering spikes, combined with an empty bottle of wine, can help make sure you keep your potted plants alive.

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