What to do when your earthtainers completely dry up?

CobarchieJuly 4, 2012

I tried posting this earlier but can't find the post. Sorry if it's been moved and I repost...

I've been watering my earthtainers from the top for the first several weeks as Ray suggests in his instructions. When I water, there is still water in the reservoir and the plants are doing well, so I assume the grow media isn't drying up. I watered 4 days ago but this heat must have taken it's toll as today I noticed all my earthtainers are bone dry in the reservoir and the grow media is dried up too.

The plants are fine (they look a little stressed from the heat after going dry) so I imagine I'll be able to save them, but I'm wondering about the wicking action of the SWC concept. Once it dries up, will it ever work again?

I put some amazingly heavy duty tape on the drain holes on a container and watered from the top until the water was about 5 inches from the top of the fill tube. The tape held all the water in and I let it sit like that for an hour or two. I then pulled the tape off of one side and captured all the water to use in in the same manner for the next container.

My best estimates are that I put an extra 7 or 8 gallons in the container. I figure everything up to 5 inches below the top of the fill tube is super saturated, and having watered from the top right next to the plants, I figure I should be ok to just fill the reservoir from now on (and keep it filled).

I was just wondering if anyone had any experience in rewetting a SWC and if it kept self watering afterwards. Ray says it takes days to rewet one after it goes dry...

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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

You are doing what I would do.
You may try sealing off (use a screw or nail ) the overflows and redrill some an inch or two inches higher.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 10:43PM
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If you are diligent about keeping your reservoir full you should not have to ever water from the top after your first watering. If you do, your mix is not wicking properly. Al

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 9:07AM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)

Agree with Calistoga.

If you are refilling the water reservoir on a consistent basis every few days, it should never run dry. I believe the reservoir holds between 6 and 8 gallons of water when topped up, which should be enough to go 2 or 3 days between refill.

To re-wet a fully dry EarthTainer, you are doing the right thing by plugging the overflow holes and saturating the Mix, on a one time basis.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 11:10PM
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rarvn(z8 Coastal, SC)

I had a brand name Earth Box run dry a couple of weeks ago (my bad entirely). I used the fill tube to fill the reservoir completely. I then took a bamboo stake and pushed it down through the wicking area (the two back corners) and wiggled it around a bit. I then used a water hose to slowly saturate the wicks and also gave each plant a slow drink of water. I then put the EB in the shade. If that didn't work I was prepared to plug the drainage holes and flood the entire mix, but it didn't come to that. The EB began wicking on its own just from saturating the wicking corners.

Of course, this all depends on the planting mix in the container. Mine are filled with the mix the EB came with and, surprisingly, saturating the wicking corners worked with my mix. I imagine flooding would work with any mix if push came to shove.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 11:55PM
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