Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Self-Watering Garden

My vision for a self-watering indoor garden with capillary mats has been realized. I am going to wait a while longer to declare it a complete success. I have two shelves that are watering my plants from the bottom, rather than me needing to water the pots individually with a watering can. This is a benefit to the plants, which usually appreciate bottom-watering.

Self-watering indoor garden: arrows indicate flow of water.
There is a reservoir on each shelf, with a capillary mat "wick" from the reservoir (the green boxes) to the adjacent tray, and another wick between each tray. Each tray has a capillary mat lining its bottom, which conducts the water through the holes in the pots, where the potting mix sucks up water and delivers it to the plant roots. I had to wet all the fabric mats to start the capillary action, and the trays have stayed moist for the past week. I add several litres of water to each reservoir per day, so the water must be going somewhere!

Capillary mat between reservoir and tray:

My edible indoor garden. There are spicy purple greens, cilantro, basil, and watercress as well as romaine, butterhead, green leaf and red oakleaf lettuces. My "Micro Tom" and "Red Robin" miniature tomatoes were just sown today. I can't wait to see my tiny, genetically-freakish tomatoes.

Lastly, I sowed a large number of Primula denticulata (Drumstick primula) seeds and got only three plants. I have tried these seeds before and only produced one plant from my efforts. They take an exceptionally long time to germinate and seem to grow very slowly. I am hoping to have nice robust plants by spring. Primula denticulata and Primula auricula are hardy to zone 2, thus are good selections for our climate. Has anybody else had experience growing drumstick primulas from seed?

1 comment:

Cicero Sings said...

Wow, you've gone all out with that indoor lighting set up. I've checked out the prices of those things at Lee Valley and gulped! Maybe one day when we run out of other money grabbing projects! First on our agenda is a wood/garden shed ... and garden beds. I'd really like to get all the beds made and ready this fall before freeze up. I can dream can't I? D gets off work Friday ... until next spring. But we have a weeks trip to the coast in the fall agenda that bites into fall project time. It will depend how the fall plays out ... weather wise.