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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
We made a couple dozen of these a couple years ago and they worked out great. Click here to get to the first of a series of pictures with instructions how to build these from two cat litter pails and some PVC pipe. I was intrigued by the concept of Earthboxes but wanted something less expensive, so I developed this idea instead. The only cost to us was the dirt that went into them, as we had a pile of cat litter pails (check Freecycle if you don't have pails) and we also had scrap PVC pipe around.

I would use larger PVC for the fill pipe. The smaller stuff we used works okay but some of the later ones we made have larger pipes and fill faster.

We also cut some slits from the back of the lids to the holes in the lids so the lids will slip around the stems of the plants.

I've also come to realize plants don't need that much dirt to grow in, so I'm going to remove at least half the dirt and fill the bottom of the top pail with empty milk jugs, leaving the lids on. That will make the expensive dirt we put into them go twice as far.

Peppers growing in one of our self-watering planters. We actually brought this in the house and had it in the south windows to extend the growing season well past first frost.



Tomatillos. This plant got enormous.

 

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Cool idea! I have Earthboxes, and I love them. If these work anything like them, they are a fantastically economical way to get the same results!!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
We were gone two weeks last June, and it was unusually hot here last year. We filled the reservoirs (bottom pails) before we left and our tomato plants didn't even notice we were gone.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I've also concluded putting milk jugs into the bottom of the upper pail is a bad idea, as it needs dirt in it to wick the water up from the bottom pail. So I'll just let that thought go. I do put milk jugs in large pots that aren't self-waterers, so I know that works.

I like how Earthboxes look but I just couldn't get past the price of them for the number of them I wanted, so decided to just forget how ugly the cat litter pail version looks and focus on how great they work and how happy the plants are growing in them. :tay: I also like the small footprint they have which means they can sit on steps for a tiered garden.
 

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I agree on the footprint. Could you disguise the bucket somehow? I'm wondering if painting it with a flat paint or maybe just hanging a larger ground cover over the surface (to hang over the side) would help? If only they weren't that NEON yellow!! :)

I bought my Earthboxes over time, year by year, because they last FOREVER, and once I went in with someone else to buy enough to get the discounted price, so I have about a dozen of them now.

I may check with my local animal shelter, though, to see if I can take any of their litter boxes off their hands, just to try your method. You can never have too many planters. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
They're ugly, but they're not in conspicuous places. They're not ugly enough to bother me into covering them up. Then I'd just have to create/store/pay for/mess with something else to clutter up the place, and I have enough of that already.

I'm planning a deck for the side of the house though, which would be the first thing anyone sees when arriving at our place. I'd like self-watering planters instead of rails, so I'm thinking about building boxes that look like wood planters but in reality are just containers to cover up the litter pail planters.

We suck at gardening so the less work and more successful we can make it, I'm all over that! We've had the most success we ever had using those planters in 35 years of attempting to get something to grow.
 

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Cool idea about building box "planters" to cover up the buckets. Since the buckets are standard-size, you could maybe put three of them in one planter!

I just posted to my local Freecycle asking about cat litter buckets, btw. I want to give this a try! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
They're really simple and quick to build, assuming you have the tools. I need to root around in the garage and see if we have pails to make some more for our gardens.

We have very poor, rocky soil here. Nothing grows. Gardening is impossible unless you haul in tons of dirt and then build it up with all kinds of fertilizers and stuff. I wish we'd have thought about container gardening years ago.

The fake planters I have in mind which would have the cat pails in them would be along a thirty-foot span of the deck and probably be in two or three sections, so they'd be long. I could put the pails in the narrow way to take up less space on the deck.

We have five cats so no shortage of pails. They accumulate pretty fast, and they're such nice sturdy pails it would be a shame not to make use of them.
 

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Same kind of soil here. I have raised beds, and that is also why all the Earthboxes.

Like the concept of the planters. I have a really narrow deck, so I'd have to see if it would work here.

I also like the idea of re-purposing the containers. :) Hopefully, someone out there in Freecycle land has a stash of them that they are hoping to give away!
 

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I'm feeling like a bit of a dufuss, I can't figure out where the directions are. All I see is a picture with tools. Help please. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Polly, click the link in my OP to get to my Webshots album, then to see the next pic on Webshots, click Next in the upper right corner of the page. :)

On all the pictures, scroll down a little to read the captions under the pics.
 

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What an excellent idea! I've got a number of empty litter boxes that I'm glad now I didn't throw out.
 

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Neat. This is something we intend to try. Dh has seen the ones made with 5 gallon buckets. We have quite a few of those.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I've never seen ones made with buckets. Do you have a link? I'm always interested in seeing if I missed anything, or if someone else has come up something better/cheaper/easier than what I've done!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Bummer. I can see why though. Those are great pails with so many uses, people probably find all kinds of ways to use them themselves.

We used five of them between the front and back seats in our truck when we went to Yellowstone last year. They were perfect for extending the seat for our dogs, and since we couldn't leave any food in our pop up, we used them for organized food storage and other stuff. It turned out to be a great storage system!

Don't give up, maybe you'll find some somewhere else. Do you have Craigslist there?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Happy hunting!

You could also use other kinds of pails, including round five-gallon pails from food service places or other places that use them. Some of those places give them away or sell them cheap.
 

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Spirit Deer I'm sorry I don't have a link. My husband saw it somewhere online when he was googling something else.
 
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