Author Topic: Seedling Self-Watering System  (Read 338 times)

Offline jimmiec

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Seedling Self-Watering System
« on: August 22, 2017, 09:07:17 AM »
Has anyone seen or used a good and reliable seedling self-watering system? 

Right now, I have to add about a quart of water to each bottom tray to water the seedlings for the day.  It would be nice to just fill up a reserve every week and the system waters the trays of seedlings.  I can do it by hand right now but it would be nice to set up one now because I want to start my tomato, pepper, and eggplant plants the beginning of December and can't water during the week of Christmas.
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Transplanted to Lafayette, LA (Zone 9a)
Newbie (6th season) home gardener growing in raised beds annuals (generally 4'x20'), perennials, and fruit using non-mechanical, organic, and bio-intensive methods.

Online Gymgirl

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Re: Seedling Self-Watering System
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2017, 12:03:13 PM »
I bottom-water seedlings by hand, too.  After 15-20 minutes or so, I suck the excess water out of the tray with a $1 store turkey baster...

You got me thinking about the times I was not available to water every day (like your Christmas break). 

Here's a way I would handle that, based on the AWS deep root seedling trays I bought from Gardeners Supply Company.

Get yourself a square of styrofoam that will fit in your watering trays.  Also, go to the fabric store and get some felt, or felt-like material that will wick up and hold water.  Drape the fabric over the top of the styrofoam block, run it over one short edge and down into the tray.  Fill your tray with water.
Set your seedling pots on top of the fabric, and make sure there's good contact with the fabric.  Start some capillary by watering the pots from the top.  The pots should then start wicking the water up through the fabric, without sitting in the water in the tray.  The fabric you tuck down into the water will wick up the water that's in the tray.

Check out the diagram on this website, to see what it looks like.  And, thanks for making me think!

After I checked the diagram, I realized the styrofoam block will not allow for a full tray of water.  On the original system, there's a thin platform that the seedling trays sits on.  It's high enough out of the water to form a reservoir below it.  Holds about a half-gallon of water.  The fabric folds over the edge and sits in the reservoir.  Look at the diagram.

You could fashion a thin platform and set it up on some small wooden blocks or whatever you come up with to hold the platform out of the water.  As long as the pots make contact with the wicking fabric, and the wicking fabric makes contact with the reservoir, you should be good to go.

I use the 15-cell system to start broccoli and cabbages.  There's a big hole in the bottom center of each of the cells.  Press the cells down against the mat, and the soil starts capillary with the water in the fabric.  By the time they're ready to go out for hardening, they've developed a strong, sturdy root system.  Will use them to start my kale plants, too, this season!

Hugs!  :-* :-*
« Last Edit: August 22, 2017, 12:15:05 PM by Gymgirl »
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