Return to the Container Gardening Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Self Watering Container Trouble...

Posted by bgaviator 6 (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 2, 11 at 15:39

I started 6 Self Watering Containers utilizing Lowes buckets. I followed all instructions exactly from the various video tutorials I've seen. For half of the buckets I used a mix of 3parts Rustic Pine Mulch, 2 parts Miracle Grow, and 1 part Perlite. The other 3 buckets I used a mix of 70% peat moss, 20% Vermiculite, 10% Perlite (as I had seen this recommended on
I made sure the mix was super wet before adding to the buckets.
My concern is that to me the dirt mixture feels like it is really drying out, especially the first inch or so. I water the buckets every night via the fill tube. If I stick my finger down more than an inch, it does start to feel slightly moist, but not very much.
Some of my tomatoes have started to have the bottom set of leaves turning yellow, and curling.
Now I must say that the plants didn't quite look in pristine condition when I got them, and when I asked the garden center where I bought them, they said it was due to the late frost that we had gotten here in Ohio last month, but that the plants should bounce back once planted.
So now I don't know what to think.....I am hoping that all this work and money I spent doing these buckets hasn't gone to waste because the dirt is drying out too much. I have occasionally been giving them some water directly to the top of the soil just because I am worried.
Please advise, thanks.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Self Watering Container Trouble...

It sounds like these new swc's have you stressed as much as the plants in them. Well, it's nothing to worry about - you've just been given a lot of different variables to sort out. This swc stuff is easy..... :)

First of all, you need to stop the top watering...Your plants are showing signs of too much water. Second, the 70/20/10 mixture is not suited for growing tomatoes in. Reason being - it remains saturated all the time, especially if not covered by something to shed torrential rainfall.

Mix combinations are suited for particular plants, and although corn, broccoli, and a few others would do great in the mix recommended by the kids over at globalbuckets, tomatoes and peppers will fail everytime.

Also, you can't use the finger test to check moisture levels in a swc - as the moisture content will be higher as you move toward the bottom of the soil mass.

The other mixture you're using should work pretty well in my opinion, and I feel that your top-watering out of concern is actually creating the plant problems you're seeing.


Here is a link that might be useful: I share my thoughts, concepts, and ideas about swc's here...

RE: Self Watering Container Trouble...

I do have the buckets covered with black plastic. The leaves on some of these plants were already yellowed/spotted (just the bottom sets though) when I bought them from the garden center.
So since I've done a few of these buckets with the soil mixture recommended by GlobalBuckets, what should I do? Our those plants definitely going to die? Should I dump them, and redo the soil mixture using the 3, 2, 1 mulch/miracle grow/perlite combo? Thanks.

RE: Self Watering Container Trouble...

Well, i'd either dump the mix and increase the drainage characteristics drastically by incorporating lots more perlite or bark pieces into it, or simply limit the wicking of water by purposely only adding water to the reservoir when the plan needed some. (Basically turning it into a bottom watered container)


RE: Self Watering Container Trouble...

I don't know about the first
mix but the second mix is way
too wet,try 60% peat moss and
40% large perlite,god luck.

les :)

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Container Gardening Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here