Using some examples I found on youTube, I built some self watering Tobacco pots out of 5 gallon bucket parts. While most folk seem to use 2 buckets per pot, I couldn’t stand poking that many holes in perfectly good buckets, so I cut the bucket count in half, and instead cut the lids to fit about 4″ above the bottom of the bucket. Here are a few pictures:
First picture shows the basic parts of the lid, and the holes and cuts made. It’s not rocket science so exact perfection isn’t necessary. I used a band saw to cut off the outside ring, then a whole saw drill bit to cut both the 4″ big middle hole, and the 1.375″ smaller fill hole.
Second Picture shows the 3.75″ wood legs to keep the top from collapsing to the bottom. Just cut up scrap 2×4 pieces.
Third is 3 finished pots, looking down in. The pipe sticking up is 2′ of 3/4″ pipe, real generic schedule 20 stuff. the colored cup is a simple solo cup with holes punched in it. punch holes about an inch apart, and give it several rows of holes. this will fill with water and contains potting mix, and will allow the water to wick up into the root system. Not shown in this picture, is the single hole I drilled in the bucket itself, just about 4″ above the bottom, to allow excess water to drain out of the bucket to prevent overfilling.
The fourth picture is all 10 of the pots lined up on my trailer. outside of shopping and designing, the whole process took about 2 hours for 10 pots. granted you need more tools to make the cuts, but it saved me butchering another 10 buckets to make it work.
To finish the project I’ll be adding a mix of “Potting Mix”, “Potting Soil”, and “Sand” to the buckets, but first I’ll add about 2-3″ of small pebble gravel for pots to add weight to the bottom of the bucket. So basically, once the pot is filled with gravel weight, the bottom 4″ of the bucket is the water reservoir. the whole in the bucket will prevent this reservoir from filling to high and floating all the dirt out of the bucket. the solo cup has holes to allow water to peculate through it, while still being able to securely hold the potting mix/soil/sand mixture. The fill tube sticking out the side will allow you to fill the reservoir without artificially wetting the soil itself.
I’d guess that most plants you’d want to pot aren’t so moisture sensitive, but evidently Tobacco likes it dryer. so you don’t want to water the plants through the soil if you can help it. Rain is unavoidable, but generally considered OK as the leaves will shed most of the water. Otherwise the overflow hole will allow any excess water to run out. it’s not a very elegant design, but it should work just fine. I’ll check back in once I’ve transplanted.