Easy Way to Keep Container Gardens from Drying Out

I do a lot of container gardening, mostly because I’m trying to get the most out of our space for growing vegetables. This means growing in pots and tubs on the front porch, and growing herbs, lettuces, and strawberry plants in hanging baskets.

I usually enjoy walking around with my big galvanized watering can, checking out each container as I give them a drink. But, you know what? We set a heat record here in Detroit yesterday, and today is looking much the same. My containers need to be watered twice per day in weather like this. Have I mentioned that I’m a heat wimp? The idea of lugging a watering can in near 100 degree heat does NOT appeal to me.

So I tried to think of a nice, cheap (free) slacker method of watering for those hot, dry days when I either don’t want to deal with watering or when I know we’ll be away from the house. Best part of this method (aside from the ease of watering, of course!): you can do most of the work inside, in the air conditioning. Aahhhh.

For this project, all you’ll need is a few plastic bags (sandwich bags or quart size freezer bags work well, and you can definitely reuse gently used bags for this) and a pushpin or needle.

Step One: Fill the Baggie with Water

Fill the bag about half full (or a bit more) with water, and seal it up.

Step Two: Poke Holes in the Baggie

You don’t need to go crazy here. You want the water to kind of dribble out of the baggie slowly and steadily. For this size bag, which is a quart size, I poked five holes along the bottom of the bag. You want to poke the holes in the bottom so the water dribbles directly into the soil.

Step Three: Place the Bag in Your Container Garden

I had plenty of room in this hanging basket because the strawberry plants haven’t filled in yet. I have the bottom of the bag, where the holes are, situated as close to the center of the pot as possible, since I have the plants kind of planted in a ring around the center. If you don’t have a lot of room in your pot, you can use a few of the small sandwich sized bags, filled a bit less full so they’ll fit between plants.

Step Four: Go Find a Cool Place to Sit

I won’t be using this method all the time, but it’s pretty useful for those times when I just can’t be out there watering all the time. Check your container in a couple of hours to see if the bag is empty; once it is, remove the bag from the container. There’s usually a little bit of water left in the bag, and that, plus the bag sticking to the wet soil, is usually enough to keep it from blowing away, but you could add a few rocks or pebbles to the bag to make sure. The nice thing about using zip top bags is that I can just save the bags and keep using them throughout the season.

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