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Make a Root Waterer Using Recycled Plastic Bottles

By foraygardengirl
November 6, 2014

If you have a specific plant in your garden that requires consistent moisture, you can make a plastic beverage bottle function like a watering globe, only better.

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Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
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kylaluaz
Nov 5, 2014 7:29 PM CST
I was just wondering how to do this, so thanks for the clear instructions. I'll have to start buying water in that size bottle, just to try this! I've been buying water in gallon jugs, mainly to have those jugs for wintersowing, but I can get a few smaller ones without the handles for this purpose.
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
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Paul2032
Nov 5, 2014 7:49 PM CST
This is also a great way to get some fertilizer to the root zone. I like to use fertilizer at 25% of suggested strength but more often.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
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foraygardengirl
Nov 5, 2014 8:11 PM CST
Paul, I hadn't even thought of adding fertilizer, but that's a great idea. I started doing this with new plantings a few summers ago when it was incredibly hot and dry here, so I focused on just the moisture factor. Thanks!
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
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kylaluaz
Nov 6, 2014 5:50 AM CST
Now, that's interesting! Me, I would add either alfalfa tea or perhaps comfrey tea (which I learned has lots of potassium). Soon as I grow enough comfrey to make some, that is.

Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
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foraygardengirl
Nov 6, 2014 6:57 AM CST
Oooh - how about compost tea! I have some plantings under trees that just struggle to compete and I think Paul just provided the answer I've been looking for. This is why ATP is so cool! Hurray!
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
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kylaluaz
Nov 6, 2014 8:53 AM CST
We should give this a try, you and I, and report back! Green Grin!
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Bee Lover Sedums
Hostas Dog Lover Xeriscape Region: Minnesota Heucheras Butterflies
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foraygardengirl
Nov 6, 2014 8:57 AM CST
Yes, absolutely Thumbs up
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Echinacea Vegetable Grower Hybridizer
Tomato Heads Garden Photography Birds Cut Flowers Foliage Fan Plays in the sandbox
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Paul2032
Nov 6, 2014 9:04 AM CST
I have also used a gallon plastic milk bottle to fertilize. Make a small hole in the jug, set by the plant, and fill with liquid fertilizer......May take an hour or so to empty but will be right in the root zone.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Bee Lover Sedums
Hostas Dog Lover Xeriscape Region: Minnesota Heucheras Butterflies
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foraygardengirl
Nov 6, 2014 9:22 AM CST
Another good idea, Paul. How do you keep it from blowing away-put a stake through the hole in the bottom?
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Nov 6, 2014 6:21 PM CST
Great suggestion! It reminds me of one I saw somewhere, but I can't find that link.

It combined spot composting and compost tea with the kind of deep root watering you just described.

The person buried the bottom of a large PVC pipe 18-24" deep, with many perforations below 6" deep. He or she might have sealed the bottom of the pipe with a cap. The pipe was somewhere between 2" in diameter and 6". It stuck up above ground at least a foot or so, but I thought it would be cool to make it tall enough to use as a hand-hold in some part of the garden where footing was unsteady.

Then they filled it with compost makin's, or compost that had just barely started to break down. Then they put some cap on it so it wouldn't totally flood every time it rained.

Each time they watered, they filled the pipe with water. It would keep the compost damp, and create compost tea as it trickled down. Then the tea would escape the pipe between 6" deep and 24" deep, delivering water and compost tea to right near the roots.

And it probably attracted worms!

As the compost broke down, more could be added.
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Bee Lover Sedums
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foraygardengirl
Nov 6, 2014 6:37 PM CST
Wow Rick, that sounds awesome! I think I will have to try that Thumbs up
:+:+:+:+:+:+:+:+:
Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Nov 6, 2014 7:35 PM CST
If the idea of creating a mini-forest of PVC trees seems unsightly, I think it SHOULD work without a lot of pipe sticking above-ground, as long as you water the pipes more often, and throw in a shovelful of compost every so often.

Carried to an extreme, the two ideas are almost the same, if you buried foraygardengirl's bottles more deeply, and filled them with compostable materials. (And, probably, poked the holes open if they get clogged.)

Now I recall that the person who originally posted the idea loved worms, and liked the idea that worms would be attracted to the pipe, crawl in through the holes, and back out again with a gut-full of composty stuff.
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Bee Lover Sedums
Hostas Dog Lover Xeriscape Region: Minnesota Heucheras Butterflies
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foraygardengirl
Nov 6, 2014 8:27 PM CST
Rick, thanks for the added details and thoughts. I did find out that if I made the holes any larger, the water would not seep slowly as I wanted it too, but would just run out as fast as I poured it in. I love the idea that worms would squiggle in and out but I can't picture how to set it up so that would happen Confused
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Marilyn
Northern KY (Zone 6a)
Laughter is the best medicine!
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Marilyn
Nov 6, 2014 8:39 PM CST
Jeanie,

Do you have some pics to show of the quart-size brown root beer bottle that you like to use? What is the brand name?
Welcome to the Agastache and Salvias Forum!

Hummingbirds are beautiful flying jewels in the garden!


Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Bee Lover Sedums
Hostas Dog Lover Xeriscape Region: Minnesota Heucheras Butterflies
Image
foraygardengirl
Nov 6, 2014 9:52 PM CST
Marilyn, I don't have photos...Dad's or Frostop are the local brands here. Grumbling They are tapered and slim at the top.
:+:+:+:+:+:+:+:+:
Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Marilyn
Northern KY (Zone 6a)
Laughter is the best medicine!
Rabbit Keeper Birds Hummingbirder Salvias Xeriscape Organic Gardener
Container Gardener Cottage Gardener Bee Lover Forum moderator Butterflies Apples
Image
Marilyn
Nov 6, 2014 10:51 PM CST
And those are plastic bottles? I thought they were glass.
Welcome to the Agastache and Salvias Forum!

Hummingbirds are beautiful flying jewels in the garden!


Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Bee Lover Sedums
Hostas Dog Lover Xeriscape Region: Minnesota Heucheras Butterflies
Image
foraygardengirl
Nov 7, 2014 6:41 AM CST
Yes, they are plastic. I have to replace mine after using them for a number of years; if I can find some I will post photos.
What did I do with that unrelated emoticon above?? Sorry!
:+:+:+:+:+:+:+:+:
Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
Image
kylaluaz
Nov 7, 2014 8:39 AM CST
This one? Grumbling

Rolling on the floor laughing

I am putting on my grocery list to buy some water in appropriate bottles, so I can try this.
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Bee Lover Sedums
Hostas Dog Lover Xeriscape Region: Minnesota Heucheras Butterflies
Image
foraygardengirl
Nov 7, 2014 11:19 AM CST
Yep, that one Grumbling
Oops Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing :rofl:
The skinnier/more tapered the top part of the bottle is, the easier it is to bury. Then I try to find bottles that will hold at least a quart.
I hope it works as well for you as it does for me!
:+:+:+:+:+:+:+:+:
Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Nov 7, 2014 2:17 PM CST
foraygardengirl said:... I did find out that if I made the holes any larger, the water would not seep slowly as I wanted it too, but would just run out as fast as I poured it in. I love the idea that worms would squiggle in and out but I can't picture how to set it up so that would happen Confused


I think you're right. It can EITHER be a trickle-waterer, OR be a compost tea kettle, but probably not both.

If you flood a "compost-pipe" it would quickly wash out the tea that had been brewing by clinging to the compost. Then, the water that stays behind in the compost would resume making aerobic compost tea.

Probably if you filled your root-watering bottles with raw compost, the pinholes would clog up.

P.S. I find many shapes of plastic bottles in the recycle boxes at work. If your street has "recycle pickup days", you might browse those before the pickup time. Or find a local dump or Recycle Central, which we seem to call "transfer stations" here.

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