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water Self watering system for bucket growing

I'd like to grow one plant in a five gallon Home Depot paint bucket.  The problem is that I go away too often in the summer and may not always find somebody to water if needed.  What are some recommended  (I'll consider all options, but don't want the throw a lot of money at this) self watering systems that I can hook up?
 
 

CaneDog

Extreme Member
Have you tried googling "self watering 5 gallon bucket?"  There's a lot of info out there on building a DIY 5g bucket self-watering system.  I totally understand wanting to hear from someone who's done it before - and hopefully someone will chime in - but you might find some good ideas just trying that.  If I'd ever built one myself I'd share my thoughts, but...¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
Bit off-topic I know, but seeing this a lot in different grows, I've always wondered about these paint buckets whether they are food safe; i.e. has their plastic been approved for being in contact with edible products or could they be leaking polymers?

On-topic: I second the autopot suggestion, being a happy user myself, but otherwise a simple float valve system should do the job, with each nutrient bucket having a valve and being connected to a main supply tank. CaneDog's suggestion should be a very good starting point

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I have found several DIY vids here and on YouTube, going through the steps of assembly of the 5-gal self-watering setup.  They do work great while you are out for a week or so, but they still need to be replenished.  During wetter months, I found I had over-watering issues due to summer monsoon rainstorms.  Your mileage may vary.  I have also found some more aesthetic 7-gal. self-watering pots at HD recently, which seem to be working OK.  My wife hasn't noticed or complained as much as she has with the freaky orange bucket thing on the other side of the house.  (Please don't tip her off...).  Hide in plain sight.
 
U would get a pressure regulator maybe 5psi, a timer and just zip tie the hose to it, and set it to run for 1 minute every few days. You can get this set up for less than $20.
 

Siv

Extreme Member
Before going crazy with peppers, I had the same worry with my curry leaf plant so I bought the following:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004INGS8S
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01H6ZN0NU
 
For <$50 you have a timer and all the fixings to manage a whole lot of containers. I started with just one and now have three of these timers around the house. Just set it to go off at 5am for an hour every 2-3 days and you're all set.
 
 
If you're gonna be gone for no more than a week or your weather doesn't get really hot then you can probably get away with one of these watering spikes:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C7D83MK
 
They're a cheap single plant solution but get expensive and annoying when you have 20 plants!
 
I made 4 self waering buckets for my Reapers this year and it was great. Water every 7 to 10 days where the poinsettia peppers in clay pots needed watered every or at least every other day.
 
After the pepper season was over I dumped the bucket in a kiddie pool, adding in 1/2 bag of Peat moss, another bag of potting soil, couple handfuls of bone meal mixed well and rebuild the buckets for next year. They are staged in the shed so in the spring all I need to do is wallow out a hole for the new plants, water in and up an running in 5 minutes with minimal input all growing season.
 
 
 

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5 gallon sip containers are good, but 15 gallons are better.  I stopped using 5 gallons over 10 years ago when I realized my 15 gallon sip buckets produced more than 5 times more peppers.  FYI my largest 6'x4' plant would consume 5 gallons of water a day during the summer months. 
 
lespaulde said:
Bit off-topic I know, but seeing this a lot in different grows, I've always wondered about these paint buckets whether they are food safe; i.e. has their plastic been approved for being in contact with edible products or could they be leaking polymers?



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I always go with the food safe ones (White), their only 2bucks more over here.
 
the SIPs made out of two 5 gallon buckets are nice, but i have some tips:
 
  • i feel that the wick design involving a media-filled net pot or similar hanging into the water is a terrible idea. i don't know why this is popular. even if you pack it tightly, IME, the media erodes into the water eventually. this makes a mess of the reservoir, and the thing ends up not even being able to wick anymore.

    instead, you should use a strip of microfiber cloth. 1" wide is plenty. make a narrow slit in the center of the bottom of the top/inner bucket so that it friction fits, and be sure it hangs down far enough to hit the bottom of the reservoir. i use those relatively large microfiber cloths for cleaning your car or whatever. i got a pack of them at costco, and one cloth has made many wicks. also, as you fill the bucket with media, try to keep the wick centered as you fill it. a tip: you can tie a string or a wire to the top end of the wick, and then secure that wire to something above the bucket. this keeps the wick erect and centered as you fill with media. hands free.

[*]wondering where to position the watering tube? for sure place it at the very outer edge. if the tube is in the center, it's way harder to access with the hose. your plant will be in the way.
[*]the position of the overflow drainage hole in the outer bucket matters a lot. it pays to get it precisely positioned about 1" below the bottom of the top/inner bucket. if it's too high, your top bucket will directly touch the waterline, and it will get waterlogged. this is especially important if your SIP is not on level ground. if it's too low, you are just wasting reservoir capacity.
 

CraftyFox

Extreme Member
LGHT said:
5 gallon sip containers are good, but 15 gallons are better.  I stopped using 5 gallons over 10 years ago when I realized my 15 gallon sip buckets produced more than 5 times more peppers.  FYI my largest 6'x4' plant would consume 5 gallons of water a day during the summer months. 
Gotta say I've never seen one of the 15 gallon versions.. Do you have a picture of yours? 
 
sinensis said:
 
the SIPs made out of two 5 gallon buckets are nice, but i have some tips:
 
  • instead, you should use a strip of microfiber cloth. 1" wide is plenty. make a narrow slit in the center of the bottom of the top/inner bucket so that it friction fits, and be sure it hangs down far enough to hit the bottom of the reservoir. i use those relatively large microfiber cloths for cleaning your car or whatever. i got a pack of them at costco, and one cloth has made many wicks. also, as you fill the bucket with media, try to keep the wick centered as you fill it. a tip: you can tie a string or a wire to the top end of the wick, and then secure that wire to something above the bucket. this keeps the wick erect and centered as you fill with media. hands free
I would also be curious to see a picture of this system, and wonder about your air circulation. I definitely plan to incorporate SIP into my grow this year, seeing as I already ruined a bunch of my buckets by bottom drilling them. 
 
CraftyFox said:
Gotta say I've never seen one of the 15 gallon versions.. Do you have a picture of yours? 
 
I would also be curious to see a picture of this system, and wonder about your air circulation. I definitely plan to incorporate SIP into my grow this year, seeing as I already ruined a bunch of my buckets by bottom drilling them. 
 
Sorry for the late reply end of the year is hectic at the office for me.  I actually should have specified that I don't use "buckets" I use heavy duty storage tots like these.  https://www.amazon.com/Plastic-Storage-Gallon-Stackable-4-PACK/dp/B01EK50THY
 
They seem to be easier to handle and I like have a wide container over a tall one.  Mine are made almost the same as this video.  I found the once he used in the video don't do as well because the weight of the plant, soil, water tends to bow the container to the point of failure so that's why I moved up to the heavy duty ones instead.
 
 
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