Float valve in Self Watering Container worked

April 9, 2008

Last year I put a small float valve in the bottom of a homemade SWC, made from a 19 gallon rubbermaid tote.

Planted an early girl tomato. It grew big with lots of harvest. And I never had to hand water. Had a 50 gallon brute rubbermaid trash can filled with water. Put 1/4" tube from the can to the float. And it worked all season. I was afraid the tomato roots might clog it up.

This spring I threw out the soil to use the SWC again and checked out the roots around the float valve. There were none, it was totally clean. Very surprising. I had expected some roots to be on the float valve but there were none. Some roots were at the bottom of the SWC but not a whole lot. I believe since water was always in the reservoir, the roots couldn't grow into it. In a SWC, that I hand watered, I saw more root growth in the bottom of the container. Maybe since the container dried out somewhat the roots could establish themselves better as the bottom of the container would have been damp, not totally dry or full of water.

Anyway, for me this is exciting. Freedom from watering without worries. For this year, I've added a float valve to one of my 5 GS SWCs to test out. If it works, I'll retrofit the others next year. Also put a float in a 5 gallon bucket SWC. Having a float in each container means I can put the containers at any level (versus a 1 float system that feeds many containers at the same level).

Wordy post, but the $12 Kerick plastic floats (MA252) are much more inexpensive than the Earthbox automatic watering system. And the floats can be put in GS or homemade SWCs.

If anyone is interested, I can post a picture of the GS SWC I retrofitted this year.

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