Soda/Water Bottle Waterers and Feeders
I have not been to GardenWeb for several weeks, working outside has kept me very busy this year. I had never noticed or visited the forum about frugal gardening and when I did see it I immediately thought of a project I could share.
I use soda and water bottles to feed my Tomato plants and it works great. I saw another post that seems to be about the same subject but I could not tell for sure. If it is duplicating another post I apologize.
There is a commercial product available that is very similar to what I make but cost forced me to come up with a home made alternative. I plan to have one for each of my 200 Tomato plants and when I finally finish making them I think I will have less than 30 dollars invested.
My Tomato plants are mulched with newspaper so applying plant food can be a time consuming project without the bottles, plus it tends to go where I don't need it. With the bottles it goes exactly where I want it - the roots of my Tomatoes.
Almost any bottle with a plastic screw-on cap will work fine for this. I use 2-Liters and 3-Liters for my plants in the garden and 12 to 20 ounce bottles for my hanging baskets.
After you get your bottle you will need PVC pipe that fits perfectly over the cap. Whenever I go to buy more pipe I just take a bottle cap with me and check to make sure I am buying the correct size. The cap should require a little pressure to go into the pipe and should require screwing the bottle into it to remove the cap from the pipe.
I cut the pipe into 7 inch lengths with a 45 degree angle on one end (3 or 4 inchs for baskets and containers). I drill a 1/4 inch hole in the cap and push it into the pipe. To get plant food into the bottle I cut just one of the lugs off of the bottom. You can cut the entire bottom off but I don't. With a smaller opening I get less debris in the bottles and my dog can't drink from them.
If I want the bottle to empty quickly I drill a couple of 1/4 inch holes in the sides of the PVC pipe about halfway down.
If I want the water to be a later in the day drink for the plant I don't drill holes in the pipe. When you push the pointed end into the ground it will pack the tip with dirt. Without holes it will drain very slow. The amount of time it takes to drain will vary with different soils, mine is dark and rich and it takes as long as 24 hours for a 2-Liter to drain with no holes in the pipe. With the holes it drains in just a few seconds.
The PVC pipe costs about $2.50 for a 10 ft. length.
I cut the pieces at about 7 inches, getting 16 to 18 out of each.
The final cost is about 15 cents each.
The PVC that fits over a 3-Liter cap costs about $5 for 10 ft.
I hope that I have explained this so that it can be understood easily. If you have any questions feel free to email me, I would be happy to explain further or send a photo.