Tuesday, September 6, 2011

a vacationing container gardener's saving grace

Ian and I are recently back from a very refreshing, very lovely, very inspiring week in Washington State. The two of us have quite a bit of freedom because we don't have kids or pets, but as you've read, we are the proud caretakers of several potted plants. So, in order to keep them alive (without anyone's help) while we were gallivanting across Kitsap Peninsula, I set out to devise a fuss-free watering system for container gardens.

I ruled out two popular ideas right away: We don't have access to a spigot, so that nixes the drip system option suggested by many container gardening blogs. I also didn't want to lug all the containers inside and store them in the bathtub, as advised by others. I reasoned that the plants would have been shocked by the darkness, and some would likely have succumbed to root rot. Plus, some pots had been struggling with a bit of a Japanese beetle situation, and I refused to introduce those pretty but nasty bugs into our home. So, that left me to tap into my limited memory of high school physics. And dare I say, it turned out pretty well?

We rescued wine and beer bottles from the recycling -- one for each container, chosen according to pot size. The morning of our flight, I filled them up, tipped them over, and jammed them into the soil. The idea was that, as the soil around the bottle dried out, more water would drip down.

When we returned, I nervously checked the balcony. A few of the plants looked a little droopy, but nothing a hearty watering didn't fix. The tomato fared the worst with a few yellowed branches, but, oddly, some new and well-developed suckers replaced them.

Next time we go away for a week in the summer, I'll probably double up on bottles -- especially if scorching temps are predicted (we reached just 80 degrees). This amount of moisture would probably have been ideal for a five-day trip. But overall, our plants and I are quite pleased with this experiment.

Have you tried a container watering system like this? What did you think?


Andrew feldner said...

Way cool. I have some stuff that can take care of the beatles if you want

Sarah said...

I bought my parents those infomercial water globes a year ago and they have been on two trips since then and still haven't used them. I definitely like this idea much better for the wine and beer lover that I am! And seeing as my dad makes his own wine, he will have the bottles laying around. Thanks for the fun tip!