Easy Drain Humidity Tray

susanblooms1(5, Milwaukee, WI)September 6, 2007

I'm dreading bringing my orchids back in the house because of the time I end up spending lugging the pots to the sink to leach them, water them and drain them. I love my chids but It is messy and takes me more time than I have (and often makes me late for work!)

I know that the time has been helpful to me for it's hands on effect, getting me to inspect and find things, growths, bugs, etc, but I could easily have more relaxed and thoughtful, quality time, without all the messy lugging.

I found the easy drain humidity trays online. Has anyone used these and are they worth the $35 plus s&H charge for a 26X12 tray. Since I'll need multiple trays, thought it would be worth asking.

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mehitabel(z6 MO)

I've seen those easy-drain trays, and they are very tempting. I haven't tried them, but I do use the heavy-duty brown trays that you can get at Oak Hill. Those are sturdy and fairly good to look at, and they let you water in situ.

I've devised a way of draining the Oak Hill trays without carrying overflowing trays to the sink.

Take a 2-towel length of paper towels, and fold the long way so you have a long strip about 1" wide. Wet the paper towel strip completely, put one end into the water in the humidity tray and let the other end drip into a bucket that is below the level of the humidity tray

This makes a wick-siphon, the water in the tray wicks onto the moist paper towel and drips into the bucket. Takes a couple of hours to empty the tray, while you do other things.

I've used this method for a couple of winters, and it works to empty the trays. Beats the sloshing all the way to the sink method.

If you do buy the high-end trays, please let us know how they work out.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 12:57PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

Faster method for draining trays:

Take a piece of aquarium tubing, stick one end in the tray and the other end in a bucket. When you want to drain the tray, just suck on the end in the bucket and the water starts to flow. If you use two or three pieces of tubing at once, you can drain a tray in minutes. The bucket has to be below the level of the tray though.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 1:31PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

These are the trays I use. 49x20 I believe. Love 'em and they're really heavy duty.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tray

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 1:55PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Sorry, Kevin. No way my mouth is getting within two feet of drain dray sludge to start a tube siphon..

To each his own little ways.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 2:08PM
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jamcm(Ottawa Area, Canada)

"Self-starting" siphons (bought at Home Depot-ish store, squeezable red pump near the end starts the siphoning action) -- $4.

Draining humidity tray sludge with no gross-ness -- priceless.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 2:35PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

My trays don't get gross.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 3:42PM
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susanblooms1(5, Milwaukee, WI)

Great suggestions, all, thanks!

Kevin, if your trays don't get gross, you truly are amazing (or just have too much time on your hands :)

I like that large tray, but I think a darker color (brown or even black) would be helpful to absorb heat in the winter months?

Mehitabel, you are resourceful, I may just try that, expecially since the paper towels can be tossed and not stored between uses.

However, Julie, your idea may win in the end, just for ease of use.

Aint no way I'm taking any chance of swallowing runoff. Yuck.

Thanks all!


    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 11:45AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

No, I don't have too much time on my hands, I just like to be efficient when doing menial tasks. If you keep the trays slightly slanted the water collects at one end and you siphon it off. If you do that, he trays don't get green. You also don't need to suck water into your mouth. Just get the process going and the water flows.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 1:55PM
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whitecat8(z4 MN)

"Just get the process going," he says. But what if it's not one-trial learning? What if there's a learning curve? And what if you succeed the first 2 times and then fail the 3rd and 4th? You could die, that's what.

Maybe you could thread Mehitabel's paper towels through Kevin's tubing to get the process going and then pull out the paper towels so the siphoning went faster. Maybe wrap the p. towels around some wire heavy enough to push through. Am I making this too complicated?

Julie, some genius thought up that self-siphoning rig just so that disgusting green gunky grudge couldn't touch our lips. Thanks for the tip.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 9:21PM
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have not bought any in a long time but i am cheap. i use 12 x18 seedling trays or flats with no holes in them. cost about $0.89 and then seedling inserts about $0.89. which are strong enough to hold up orchid pots. if they get too dirty you can just trow them away. or you can wash in bleach. if you have four feet of aquarium tubing. there is no way you will be getting that sluge in your mouth. if your reflexes are that slow i hope you don't drive a car.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 9:32PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Well, I bought one of those siphon pumps and used it today. Works really well, and a lot faster than the paper towel system. Empties out a tray in just a few minutes.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 11:03PM
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whitecat8(z4 MN)

They don't have the siphon dealies @ our Home Depot, but the nice guy said he got his at an auto parts store. Mehitabel, where did yours come from?

Ron, 4' of tubing sounds safe. I was picturing a shorter piece that would go from the tray to the bucket directly below w/ a few inches left over. Your solution w/ the seedling trays is a good idea.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 11:53PM
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jamcm(Ottawa Area, Canada)

I should perhaps have said gas station or auto parts store. One of our main "hardware-ish" stores up here also carries car parts (Canadian Tire), which is where I got the siphon.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 8:08AM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

I got mine at Ace Hardware, which is a smaller, human-sized hardware store.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 10:26AM
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spiced_ham(z5 OH)

Aquarium tubing does not work! The resistance due to the small diameter is too great for liquid. Been there, done that. You need at least 1/2 inch tubing (available at Home Depot, Lowes etc.) or cut sections of garden hose.

Here is what I did, and works very well for watering fast draining SH pots indoors.

You need:
Big plastic sweater box
large diameter tubing (1/2" or garden hose)
Spade bits for drill [I guess you could melt the hole with a soldering iron too]
Plummers Goop adhesive (or any other Goop should work)
1" PVC tubing
egg crate light diffuser pannel

Drill a hole through the long side wall of the box at floor level [near to one of the short side walls so that you can glue the tubing to both the floor of the box and to the bottom of the wall of the box] and insert about 6-8" of tubing into the box. Glue in place [apply several coats over a couple of days, use a lot of Goop, cover the whole tube - swabbing the plastic with alcohol, or simply washing with soapy water will help the Goop stick better]. You will need enough tubing to reach the floor, where you will place a bucket on watering day.

It has to be done this way because if you try to stick the tubing through the bottom it won't glue and drain right.

By placing the tubing against one wall, so it looks like it is coming out of the corner of the box, you can tilt the whole box a little for better drainage.

To get the plants up off of the bottom of the tray you could use a bunch of inverted pots under the egg crate, but the PVC is better. Cut the egg crate to fit the bottom of the box [I use the back of a saw or large kitchen knife and just wack the row of squares that needs to be cut. The plastic will give way like a zipper]

Cut the PVC a little shorter than the egg crate (a cross cut saw is faster than a hack saw. The plastic is pretty soft. Attach two lengths of PVC under the egg crate with Zip ties so the you have a "floor" above the bottom of the tray, which will not resist the flow of the draining water.

With this bottom the process of picking up the egg crate flooring to clean the box is so much easier than anything else you can come up with.

When not watering just loop the tube up into the back of the box.

This all sounds complicated but the materials are soft and easy to work with and the design is hard to screw up. The spade bits come in a pack of three, and don't cost that much.

Compared to buying something off the shelf (and multiples of it for many plants)This method is cheap and you can choose the size of sweater boy to fit your space. You can also make a several of these at a time. When I stopped growing indoors I moved mine into the greenhouse and put them on the gravel floor to hold pots steady, so you can move these out into the yard in the summer.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 9:40AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

"Aquarium tubing does not work!"

I'm sure glad you told me I haven't been draining my trays for two years now. I wonder where that water went??

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 11:01AM
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spiced_ham(z5 OH)

It doesn't work well if you have passive entry into the tubing rather than starting the flow by sucking-siphoning. I'm guessing many people would like to water their pots properly while they are sitting in the tray, and have drainage that is fast enough to prevent a lake from forming around the base of their pots.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 7:07PM
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spiced ham - - - boy you sure like making mountains out of mole hills. there are numerous easier ways to do it. my time is too vaulable to me.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 8:49PM
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There is an easy way to drain your humidity trays.
Go to http://www.jehmco.com/html/bulkhead_fittings.html

I used PHBBFL014C, which is a 1/4" elbow bulkhead fitting requiring a 1/2" hole.

Drill a 1/2" hole in the middle of the side of your humidity tray, insert the bulkhead fitting and voila. easy drainage. You'll want to put it in the side so that you can retain water up to the level of the hole of where your fitting exits.

I use a drip irrigation system and then my humidity trays go to the drain. Because of the ease of which I can drain the trays, I actually put extra drip fittings that go straight into the tray so I can flush the trays out and prevent the scum from forming.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 2:03PM
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