Here’s my latest DIY self watering planter bed. A true sub irrigated planter ideal for large plants and perfect for growing cannabis or peppers and tomatoes if that is your preference. It was designed as an indoor garden but it could be adapted to run outdoors too.
My first sub irrigated planter beds worked very well. I recently harvested one of my highest yielding plants ever. A GG4 in my SIP yielded 10 ounces in a 3 gallon smart pot and gave me over 8 ounces cleaned and manicured. So I know this method works!
My first system used growstones as a wicking bed and for the most part it worked well. The large stones worked flawlessly. Unfortunately they no longer make them.
All I could find were smaller perlite sized growstones for my 2nd planter bed and they were problematic. They actually wicked better than the large stones but the smaller size led to problems with clogging.
Since I recirculate the nutrients everything needs to flow freely. If it doesn’t they drain slowly causing the water level to rise too high. My first build with larger growstones works very well and you can see it here https://420grower.org/diy-sip-grow-system-for-cannabis/
My New DIY Self Watering Planter Bed
Hydroton would work as an alternative medium but I wanted to find a way to eliminate the need for stones entirely. So I put my thinking cap on and came up with the system you will see in the video below.
Sub Irrigated Planter Bed Smart Pot System
This is a very easy DIY build. If you watched the video you will see there is not much to it but I want to bring up a few points about this system.
You dont need to use a flood tray
Any container, tub or tote will work for a self watering planter bed but if you plan to water manually bigger is better. If the container is small you are going to have to add water back frequently. I really recommend using a reservoir and pump that recirculates the water. If a flood tray is too expensive you can get 2×3 mixing tubs at Home Depot for about $13. Here is a diy build using these mixing tubs: https://420grower.org/diy-sip-grow-system-for-cannabis/
You dont need a drip irrigation manifold
I used what I had at hand because that tray was set up for a top feed drip system. You could simply use a length of 1/2 tubing and connect it to some pipe with holes in it. You could even just flood the tray and skip the manifold entirely. I like a little bit of slope so water drains to the outlet more easily and I wanted to spread the water flow out more evenly.
You do need to use smart pots
You absolutely need to use smart pots with this system. Hard plastic pots will have trouble wicking up water. Besides roots grow better in smart pots and most plants will yield more in them.
You dont need to grow cannabis to use this system
I designed this system to grow large plants. Even though I am growing cannabis with it that doesn’t mean you have to. This SIP system will grow amazing peppers and tomatoes too.
It is an indoor system for me but you could easily set something like this up outdoors too. Or you could grow peppers, tomatoes or fresh greens or herbs inside during the winter. Use a closet or any spare space provided you can provide enough light for them and control temperatures.
You might enjoy my GrowBucket review where I grow tomatoes and peppers with a self watering planter bucket system.
DIY Self Watering Planter Bed And Seed Project Day 14 Update
Things are going well in my new SIP planter bed. Plants are growing and drinking well. No algae growth or other issues so far. My seed project is now on day 4 of 12/12 and my planter bed has been running continuously for 2 weeks now.
I have gone through about 20 gallons of water so far and pH has remained stable during that time. Plants have gone through about 600 ppms of nutrient. I am using Jacks 3 2 1 mix and also some Veg + Bloom so nothing fancy.