true cost of diy 18gal swp

adamroseMarch 21, 2010

I have been doing a lot of research on the 18gal DIY SWP and finally found on this site the amount of potting mix that is needed. Why is it people always seem to leave that part out on their instructions?

2 18gal totes = $9.00

Scotts 2 Cu. Ft. Select Moisture Guard Potting Mix = $9.00


Sta-Green 2 Cu. Ft. Moisture Max Potting Mix = $10.00


Miracle-Gro 2.5 Cu. Ft. Potting Mix = $13.00

Espoma Garden Lime, 5 Lb = $4.00

pond basket - $2.50

Charlotte Pipe 1-1/2 In. x 10 Ft. = $3.00

NIBCO 1 1/2 In. PVC DWV Elbow 90 DegreePVC = $0.77

Total cost (wost case scenerio and I can only get miracle gro) = $32.77

earthbox site: $54.95

Granted I am saving $22 (not counting shipping) but $30+ for a DIY might be out of my league. Especially if I need to build 2.

Was gonna be planting corn and strawberries this year.

I looked into smaller containers, but it didn't seem to be enough room for any "dirt" once the resevoir was setup.

Smaller container(10gal and 15gal) = less potting mix.

Any ideas on how to get the cost lower by $10.00?


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bleedenver(z7 GA)

The cost of a DIY SWP can vary a lot depending on what you use. A couple of cheaper options could be to:

1: use 2 5gallon buckets (few bucks at home depot) with a ziploc food storage container (make holes) as a wicking basket. I think you can find some plans online. You won't be able to plant as many things compared with an 18 gallon container though.

2. use some other type of inverted basket (make more holes) from walmart which could serve as both shelf and provide wicking area around the edges. I've used some items like below to make some sub irrigation containers:

walmart 1 18 gall tote 4.80 (sterilite 18 gallon)
walmart lg basket 3.50 (mainstays storage basket)
walmart pott soil 9.00 (expert gardener)
walmart dolom lime <.10 for lbs bag can make many>walmart fertilizer <.50 for lbs can make many>home depot pvc pipe <.50 for can make>total is

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 1:06PM
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Not that it makes major changes in the pricing, but you are are attributing the full cost of the lime and 10' PVC to a single SWC.

Unfortunately, you may have extra costs - like a PVC cutter - that you may not have factored in (although you can cut PVC with a saw).


    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 1:20PM
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donna_h(Zone 4-b)

You can construct a SWC out of just about any large container. People use kitty litter containers, modified plastic planting pots, 5-gal buckets and plastic 55-gal drums. I have been using 5-gal buckets with pretty good success and have just added 25 more double's.

Granted, the soil and fertilizer will definitely add to the cost, but the buckets I get are used food-containers and I get them for 50 cents a piece. The PVC fill tubes were cut from scrap I salvaged with a cutter I've had for years. I used butcher's twine to secure the landscape fabric that I purchased on close-out for a cover. I use old wire fencing for tomato cages.

There are lots of blogs and writings on the web from people who are quite creative and I am certain that most of their SWC's cost way less than $30!

Donna H.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 5:25PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

Instead of buying potting soil it is cheaper to make it yourself. Peat, vermiculite and perlite is what you need. For me to fill four 30ga Earthtainers and one 18ga one I saved roughly $20 over having bought the same amount of material in 2\3cuft bags of the commercial stuff. Granted it was more work to do the mixing of ingredients myself, but there's some extra satisfaction you get from making the soil mix yourself. Miracle Gro and Sta Green (Lowes) take the fun out of it.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 2:12AM
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You might want to look into a self watering rain gutter. There is no need to use two totes. You simply drill one hole for the net cup and set on the rain gutter for the wicking action. Invented by Larry Hall. Check him out on Youtube.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 2:12PM
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Doesn't change anything, but I pay about $2.50 for 40 lbs. of dolomite lime. Its' something many gardeners should have on hand anyway, so you can think of it in terms of actual value of what you use, which is tiny.

If these containers are the only gardening you'll be doing, then that's another matter.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 3:20PM
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I use 2 plastic water bottles nested together for my fill pipe (free. All you do is cut the bottom off one and insert the other down into the other. Works fine. Heck, if you make your overflow hole large enough, you can do away with the fill tube.

Wicking basket: just punch some holes in any plastic cup.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 3:53PM
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