DIY Self-Watering Transplant Tray

comments (3) July 31st, 2011

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yourownvictorygarden Greg Holdsworth, contributor
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Click To Enlarge Photo: Greg Holdsworth (all photos)

4. Drill a 1/4" hole at these four points. When the water reaches the holes, it will drain out into the bottom storage container.

5. Using the marks you made in Step 1, drill a 1/4" or 3/8" hole (depending on the diameter of the tubing you have) in the short side of the bottom container, about an inch or so below the mark. This is for the plastic tubing to come out of (photo F).

  DIY Trellis
  Photo F
DIY Trellis
  Photo G
  DIY Trellis
  Photo H
  DIY Trellis
  Photo I
  DIY Trellis
  Photo J
  DIY Trellis
  Photo K
  Photo L
6. Cut a hole on the short side of the bottom container, about an inch or so below the mark, on the opposite side of the hole made in Step 5. This hole is for the water pump's cord/plug to fit through.

7. Drill a similar-sized hole in the top container, in the space between the edges of the two containers. This is for the tubing to go into the top container (photo G).

9. Attach the tubing to the water pump (photo H). I ended up "jerry-rigging" the connection with a brass hose barb adapter (1/4" barb x 1/4" MIP), since it provided a firmer connection to the pump.

10. Position the water pump inside the bottom container, preferably on the same side as the holes made in Steps 7 & 8. Straighten out the cords/tubs if necessary (photo I).

11. Run the tubing through the bottom container's hole and then through the top container's hole.

12. Plug the water pump in to test it.

13. Connect the power/extension cord to the timer, and then to the water pump (photo J). I had to get a two-to-three-prong electrical plug adapter since my timer only had a two-prong plug.

At this point, your ready to put in your transplants (photo L). This is where the "experimenting and testing" begins. Since everyone's growing conditions (temperature, humidity, wind, etc.) is different, you'll have to set up the "timing" for your area.

14. With the transplants in the tray, turn on the water pump until the water is draining out of the four corner overflow holes in the top tray. Then, stop the pump. Drill 4 holes in the bottom of the top tray, either in the middle or on the edges, allowing the water to completely drain out. The water should be completely drained out in a couple minutes. This is your starting point for the tray.

15. Set the timer to only run for the smallest increment it can (mine is in 15-minute increments). This is your starting point for the timing (photo K).

16. Let the setup run on it's own with the timer running for a day or two. Observe the transplant's soil carefully to see if it is being allowed to at least partially dry out. If the soil is not drying out, you will need to drill more holes in the top tray to shorten the drain time.

At some point you will have your setup running with the right amount of time for the transplants to get properly watered, but not overwatered. Believe me, the time put into setting it all up is well worth the time you're going to save watering (not to mention the lost stress).

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posted in: seed-starting, Projects, watering, transplants

Comments (3)

veggielover53 writes: Can someone tell me if it is ok to use non food grade plastic containers for this?
I have no idea.
But the water comes into contact with the plastic for quite a while.
Does it leach anything out of the plastic?
Posted: 1:13 pm on October 11th
Alvinbass21 writes: incredible
Posted: 5:10 am on July 15th
Dwiggit writes: Wow...great design! I may try something like that as I begin sowing my winter crops...a couple of weeks from now. I can tell you are a pretty creative guy. I know you folks are having some terribly hot weather as we are in Abilene. Ready for some rain and lower temps!
Posted: 9:58 pm on August 4th
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